Four years on from predictions that Armageddon would be visited on Scottish football with the liquidation of Rangers and the requirement for the Ibrox club created thereafter to start in the fourth tier of Scottish football, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has conceded that the sport coped “remarkably well” with no Rangers presence in the top flight.
Ibrox will again be hosting top-tier football again following the Championship success for Mark Warburton’s side last season. Rangers will join a set-up wherein debt burdens across most of the clubs have been greatly reduced since there was an Ibrox club among the game’s elite.
Doncaster is keen to point out that he never used the word “Armageddon” – SFA chief executive Stewart Regan was the administrator who did so – but maintains there were economic convulsions caused by Rangers’ demise that should not be forgotten.
“There’s no doubt a lot of financial damage has been caused to a number of clubs as a result of what happened in 2012 and the events that followed, but I do believe the game has healed remarkably well, and that’s down to the robustness of the game, the supports and the clubs. They all deserve credit for the way they’ve pulled together,” he said.
“And the clubs deserve massive credit for the leap of faith they took in 2013 to bring the league back together again [with the Scottish Professional Football League formed from a merger of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League].
“There were those suggesting at the time that particularly for the lower league clubs, there would be less money, less influence, less involvement, and they’d be cut adrift. I would hope people across the game would see the reverse has been true. And the fact we’ve increased the monies payable to all clubs by more than 20 per cent over the past three years vindicates the confidence all 42 clubs had at that time.”
Doncaster refused to consider that the Armageddon warnings were irresponsible and unhelpfully talked down the entire Scottish football brand, which Rangers bolstered coming through the divisions.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the pain some clubs in particular have gone through with the loss of Rangers’ support in particular,” he said. “Equally I think it’s right to recognise the huge financial good the Rangers support have brought to the lower league clubs on their journey through the divisions. That has transformed the finances of certain clubs in the Championship, League One and Two. So certainly it’s not without an upside, but the game in this country has proven itself to be remarkably robust in the face of those challenges and I think we can look forward with massive confidence.”