Rangers newco: Impasse with SPL delays Rangers’ bid for SFA licence
RANGERS chief executive Charles Green’s optimism that he would secure a Scottish Football Association licence for the Ibrox club by close of business today proved unfounded as unresolved issues with the Scottish Premier League continued to cast doubt over whether Ally McCoist’s side will be able to start the new
season as scheduled this weekend.
• Rangers are in talks to secure membership of the SFA
• Rangers’ first match is a Ramsdens Cup tie against Brechin on Sunday
• Agreement reached with SFA and SFL but not SPL - Green
Both Green and SFA chief
executive Stewart Regan had been hopeful of reaching a successful conclusion to negotiations over transferring Rangers’ membership of the governing body from the soon-to-be-liquidated club to the newco purchased by the Yorkshire businessman’s Sevco consortium.
But an impasse over the SPL’s ongoing inquiry into alleged improper registration of players by Rangers during their use of the Employee Benefit Trust scheme, which is the subject of a long-awaited First-tier Tribunal ruling in the club’s dispute with HMRC, is understood to be
delaying an agreement among all parties.
Rangers manager McCoist has vehemently and publicly voiced his opposition to any stripping of historic titles from his club, one of the potential sanctions available to the SPL, who will consider evidence gathered by their lawyers on the issue at a meeting on 10 August.
“We have reached agreement with the SFA and SFL on all matters but not with the SPL,” confirmed Green yesterday morning. “As a result, talks are continuing to secure our SFA membership, which we are hoping to receive today.”
That was not forthcoming, although one senior SPL source did indicate earlier tonight that progress had been made. The negotiations between Green and the SPL will continue tomorrow as Rangers await the SFA membership required for them to play in Sunday’s sold-out Ramsdens Cup first-round tie against
Brechin City at Glebe Park. They are due to begin their Third Division campaign at Peterhead on 11 August.
As the uncertainty continued, McCoist gathered his remaining squad of players at Ibrox today to play three 30-minute practice matches among themselves. Former Hearts players Ian Black and Craig Beattie, whom McCoist is keen to sign before Rangers’ 12-month transfer embargo kicks in on 1 September, were among those who took part.
Ian Durrant, the Rangers first team coach, expressed his frustration at being unable to play any official pre-season matches because of the absence of an SFA licence. Two behind-closed-doors games have been played against Airdrie United and Albion Rovers but the former Scotland midfielder has been encouraged by what he has seen from several of the young players who can expect to be thrust into the first-team picture at the club in the new season. “Both games were really good tests. It’s just a shame they have been behind closed doors,” Durrant told Rangers TV. “We’ve had to bring in young boys and fast-track them, but they have come in and been great.
“Some got a taste for it last
season, like Barrie McKay and Lewis Macleod. They will be great additions to the first-team squad this year. Barrie got a couple of goals against Albion Rovers which will do his confidence no harm, while Lewis slotted in alongside Lee McCulloch and Mo Edu, so it’s a great learning curve for him.
“He’s a talented boy who’s come through the youth ranks, but he’s getting a chance and he’s taking it. He’s been different class in our two games along with young Robbie Crawford. The three of them have completed a full pre-season with the first team and you can see they are getting stronger and more confident.
“It reminds me of when I made my debut many years ago when Rangers were building the stadium and they never had the funds to buy players. Myself, Derek Ferguson, Robert Fleck, Hugh Burns and Dave MacFarlane, to name a few, got a chance to play in the first team.
“That came around due to circumstances and a small squad. But, if you want to be successful, you have to take any opportunities you get. Robert Fleck, Derek Ferguson and myself knew each other from the youth teams, so it’s a great advantage for Barrie, Robbie, Lewis and even young Matty Clarke that they’ve played in the youth teams together and know each other’s game.
“They are coming in as a group and it’s just a case of them integrating with the first team, finding out how they play and being ready to face the demands. But they will be given every chance and I can see them being great Rangers players in the years to come.”
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