Rangers newco: Even Third Division will object to club’s presence
MORTON chairman Douglas Rae believes Third Division football is the best-case scenario for newco Rangers, but has predicted that they will face opposition to their presence from clubs in the lower tier of the Scottish Football League.
• Morton chairman Douglas Rae believes Third Division clubs would oppose Rangers’ presence in the lower tiers of Scottish football
• General consensus is that Rangers should not be allowed to drop down just one division
• Two non-league clubs rumoured to have lodged bids to join the SFL
Rae insists the SFA’s bid to merge the SPL with the SFL in order to provide the reconstituted Ibrox club with a softer landing after their rejection by top flight clubs is doomed to failure.
At a meeting of the Morton Supporters Trust, Rae formally declared his intention to vote against Rangers’ admission to what is currently the First Division when all 30 SFL clubs meet at Hampden next Tuesday.
The businessman, who rescued Morton when he bought the club ten years ago, can see no prospect of the proposal achieving the 75 per cent support of SFL clubs required. “I’ve made my mind up and I won’t be changing it,” Rae told The Scotsman. “I know a few other chairmen who haven’t declared their position publicly yet but who have indicated privately they are going to vote against Rangers being admitted to the First Division.
“I think the SFA will be surprised at the strength of feeling among First Division clubs against Rangers going straight in at that level. They should be treated the same way as any other club. Rangers should have the same punishment as Livingston and be banished to the Third Division.
“My understanding is that two non-league clubs have lodged applications for the potential vacancy in the SFL. That would be in the Third Division and that’s where Rangers should apply to join. The normal practice should apply – that the SFL clubs receive a presentation from all applicants and then cast a vote on who they believe should get into the Third Division. It has to be consistent. Otherwise, it is being done only because it is Rangers.
“We’ll need to see what happens on Tuesday. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that Rangers will end up in the Third Division but I also know there are a lot of Third Division clubs who don’t want Rangers as it will threaten their own ambitions of promotion. My former manager, Jim McInally, for example, is hoping to make a big push for promotion with Peterhead next season. It won’t be much fun for them if Rangers are foisted onto them and become automatic favourites to win the division.
“Another problem with Rangers going into the Third Division is that there is no segregation at grounds there. That’s something for the police to consider.””Rae added: “There has been a lot of pious talk about sporting integrity. Where’s the integrity of a club going into administration, liquidation, getting rid of its debts and just dropping down one tier of football? I don’t see any integrity in that. It’s easy to talk about integrity but I regret to say there’s not much of it around in Scottish football right now.
“Rangers have admitted they should be punished because they have cheated consistently over the last number of years. They have tried to steal a march on other clubs. As a result, they have to receive the same punishment any other club would have got.
“If this was Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Kilmarnock in the same position as Rangers, for example, there wouldn’t be the same guff as we’ve gone through over the last few months. I saw Charles Green suggest the SFA should be sitting down with them and discussing their punishment. That’s like saying someone accused of a driving offence or burglary should sit down with the judge and decide what sentence they get.”
Rae has also warned against creating an option for any other clubs who become insolvent to avoid the full consequences of their situation.
“It would be dangerous to just let Rangers drop one division as new club with no debt,” he said. “Let’s then say that Motherwell, just as an example, were in a bad way financially. They could just decide to go into administration, then liquidation if necessary, if they knew a precedent had been set where they would only drop into the First Division.”
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