RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has joined the growing list of those who have become deeply frustrated by the length of time it is taking Scottish football to reach a decision about league reconstruction.
The Ibrox manager yesterday reflected on his side’s clinching of the Third Division championship following the traumatic events of last summer, when Rangers were forced to re-join the Scottish league at the bottom tier.
Having been confirmed as Third Division champions on Saturday, McCoist cannot even be sure what league the Ibrox side will be competing in next season. Scottish Football League clubs are now split on whether they are in favour of a Scottish Premier League plan for all 42 clubs to split into three leagues of 12-12-18.
With an SPL vote not due to take place until 15 April, McCoist is frustrated by the time it is taking to reach a decision. Rangers chief executive Charles Green was a guest of St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour on Sunday as the Paisley club hosted Celtic in an SPL fixture, but McCoist again distanced himself from talk of a possible breakaway SPL 2, with many First Division clubs desperate to gain the benefit of the fairer distribution of finances promised by the 12 SPL clubs.
However, he acknowledged that as far as the welfare of Rangers is concerned, “I did not say it would not be a good step for the club”. McCoist is concerned that joining such a breakaway faction would be interpreted as a “slap” for those clubs in the Third Division who have made Rangers feel so welcome this season.
However, this has not stopped him hitting out at the failure of all parties to reach a consensus. He now believe it has reached the point where it is too late to make a change ahead of next season, meaning Rangers will aim to continue their progress through the leagues by winning the Second Division title next year.
“Charles and Andrew [Dickson, head of football administration] are as much in the dark as anyone else but there’s a meeting of SPL clubs on 15 April and that should set the tone,” said McCoist
“At this moment in time my guess would be that it’s too late for change unless it’s a dramatic change – and, by that, I mean that we don’t yet know what’s going to happen with some of the SFL 1 clubs.”
McCoist stressed that he was not “100 per cent comfortable” with the notion of SPL 2, something that has reared its head after several SFL clubs were revealed to have gone cold on the idea of 12-12-18 after a meeting at Hampden last week. “I did not say it would not be a good step for the club but I would not be 100 per cent comfortable with it if we were seen to be slapping down the people that gave us an opportunity to play.
“That’s where I would not be comfortable with it. Obviously, the decision will be made by people above me. The one thing about our football club is that I honestly believe we have always tried to do the right thing. We have got a lot of things wrong but we have always tried to do the right thing.”
McCoist is frustrated that the Scottish game is again guilty of dragging its feet. “That’s probably typical of Scottish football,” he said. “Decisions are not being made soon enough for people to agree or disagree with them.
“Our problem – and it will be the same for most people – is the delay in decision-making. I think the time has come for action. Even if it means delaying any change for a year, that’s fine, but we need to find out sooner rather than later what everyone is thinking and where we’re going to go.
“I’ve been to a few of the SFL meetings and there is, understandably, an element of self-preservation involved,” he added. “But there genuinely also is a feeling that we need to benefit, not just ourselves but Scottish football. That has to be the biggest thing to come out of this – we need to put our own interests aside in order to discuss what would be better for the game in Scotland.”
McCoist admitted that his own personal preference would be for a larger top tier, numbering 14 clubs. This is the Rangers view as well.
“Everyone wants a bit of change,” he said. “Players, supporters, everyone is looking for a bit of freshness in the whole thing. Everybody has got different opinions of where we see the game going and what’s got to happen to benefit the game,” he added.
“Something has to happen. You look at the national team slipping away. Scottish football is not in a place where we want it to be so we have to do something.”