RANGERS newco manager Ally McCoist has claimed he will “never accept any talk of stripping the club of titles” and that “everyone at the club shares this view”. In a strongly-worded statement, McCoist criticised the SFA for releasing a statement on Friday night in which the governing body stated broad agreement had been reached for the transfer of membership between the old club and the new one, which included accepting a 12-month transfer embargo that would start after the completion of this current transfer window.
McCoist was one of those representing Sevco Scotland – the consortium that bought the assets of Rangers as that company headed into liquidation – in the talks with the SFA over the terms of the membership transfer. But he revealed he cut short his role in the discussions over his unhappiness at how the process was going.
“I had to leave the final meeting as I could not support the sanctions they were trying to impose,” he said. “The decision has already been taken to place Rangers in Division Three and we have accepted that, along with many more punishments. However, operating with an embargo on an already depleted first team squad – even with a window to sign players – will make the task ahead an extremely difficult one.
“It is important to remember we have already had a ten-point deduction from the SPL, lost our Champions League place for finishing second last season, had a £160,000 fine, been refused entry to the SPL, been relegated to Division Three and lost the majority of our first team squad – yet still the governing body has chosen to impose further sanctions.
“The transfer ban has been strongly resisted by me, the management team, the directors and supporters. Indeed The Rangers Fans Fighting Fund appointed a QC to defend the club’s position as the sanction was not available to the Appellate Tribunal. From a business point of view I can understand the position the Board has been placed in and ultimately they felt they had no choice but to accept some sanctions in order to move forward – as one of the alternatives could have led to the extinction of the club.
“The Rangers fans have been magnificent throughout this entire process and on behalf of everyone at the club I would like to thank them once again for their loyalty. I can also assure every Rangers fan I will not be accepting any talk of stripping the club of titles. That is something we will never accept and everyone at the club shares this view.”
McCoist’s confused stance reflects the fallacies that have been regularly repeated during this saga. Rangers have not been heavily punished over their financial meltdown but suffered heavy consequences. The new club want to acquire the SFA membership of the old club and their history.
They must therefore accept the sanctions imposed on them for the malfeasance of the Craig Whyte regime and the outcome arising from the SPL’s investigation into the improper registration of Rangers players, through their use of the Employee Benefit Trust scheme from 2001-2011.
If an independent commission finds that Rangers systematically paid players outside of their contracts, then they would have broken stringent registration rules that, on the basis of all precedence, would void any results obtained with those players.
Charles Green’s Rangers received better news yesterday with it emerging that Southampton have agreed to pay an £800,000 fee for Steven Davis. The Northern Irish midfielder was one of the players who opted not to have his Rangers contract transferred to Sevco, which was understood to make him a free agent. Green challenged this interpretation and attempted to block moves by other contract-refusers Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ness. All four have been granted temporary FIFA international clearance but Southampton opted to pay a fee to finalise a deal for Davis immediately.
More pressing for the new Rangers is the fact that SFL rules state new clubs must gain SFA membership within 14 days of being accepted into their organisation. That means that Friday is the deadline day for Sevco, who have been treated as a completely new club by the SFL in paying a £1,000 application fee and a £1,000 entrance fee to play in the Third Division.
The 12-month registration embargo will also prevent the recast Rangers signing players on loan outwith the transfer window, as will be available to their rivals. As with Dundee and Livingston before them, McCoist will be able to play trialists for a maximum of three games.
The newco Rangers are scheduled to take on Brechin City in the Ramsdens Cup on Sunday and, despite McCoist’s defiance, are in no position to play hardball with the SFA and SPL over membership.
Chairman Malcolm Murray admitted as much in stating the other day, certain sanctions had been accepted “under duress” because of the “stark choice” being “take sanctions or risk not playing football at all”.
Claims on titles, even if it proved they have been won through breaking the rules, may have to be relinquished for the same reasons.