Rangers newco: Rangers booted out of SPL as clubs reject Ally McCoist plea
ALLY McCOIST has enjoyed countless memorable moments at Hampden throughout his illustrious career. Yesterday, the national stadium was the venue for an event which would once have been deemed too fanciful for even his worst nightmares.
Just before noon, McCoist drove away from the scene of so many of his triumphs in both light and dark blue, hoping against hope that an impassioned personal plea to the SPL chairmen and chief executives gathered in their sixth-floor boardroom might yet spare Rangers from the ignominy of expulsion from Scottish football’s top flight.
At around 2.15pm, however, came the decision which for so long those SPL stakeholders have seemed at pains to avoid making. By an overwhelming margin of ten votes against them, Charles Green’s application for his newco Rangers to inherit the share of the soon to be liquidated Ibrox club had been rejected.
The meeting had started at 10am amid widespread speculation the vote could yet be deferred in advance of the SFL gathering next week which will determine whether Rangers can be admitted to the First Division.
When Green and new Rangers chairman Malcolm Murray were spotted in huddled conversation in the Hampden cafe at lunchtime, shortly after McCoist’s departure, rumours spread that a deal had been done which would allow the newco to play in the top flight in return for accepting severe sanctions.
But by 2.30pm, not long after the brief one-line SPL statement had confirmed the outcome of the vote, Green and Murray sped away via Hampden’s underground car park to absorb the ramifications and ponder their next move.
For McCoist and those players who have been willing to commit themselves to Rangers for next season, the future remains bleak and uncertain.
“Ally McCoist spoke from the heart about his stance on matters that have taken place since Rangers went into administration,” said SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster. “Rangers newco gave a presentation, the clubs considered it and the clubs said ‘No’.”
Before Doncaster emerged to face the media, Green had released a statement on behalf of Rangers which claimed senior SPL figures had led him to believe the newco application had a good chance of success despite so many clubs having gone on record with their intention to vote against it in recent weeks.
“This time last week, all of us at Rangers were resigned to the fact that we would not be admitted, due mainly to the public declarations of clubs indicating they would not support our application,” said Green.
“At the weekend, we were approached by representatives from the SPL suggesting our application still stood a chance of success and we should discuss this further with clubs. This we did in good faith but with the knowledge of the hurdles that lay ahead of us.
“We had asked the SPL whether it would be more appropriate for us to withdraw our application but were advised against this. We made a presentation to the SPL clubs this morning, detailing our proposals in support of our application and this included what we believed to be penalties and sanctions that would have dealt fairly with the difficulties caused by events at Rangers prior to our acquisition of the Club on June 14. Sadly this was rejected by the other clubs and we regret that our club and our supporters were given false hope by this initiative.”
Doncaster did not deny that talks with Green had taken place but insisted he was unaware of any positive signals having been sent to the Yorkshire businessman.
“There have been a number of discussions between the newco and various member clubs,” admitted Doncaster. “I don’t know how much encouragement or otherwise he was given by those clubs or by those conversations. From our point of view, we had in front of us today an application to be considered by the 12 member clubs and it was rejected.”
The influence of supporters groups in voicing their opposition to a newco Rangers in the SPL has been considerable in the past few months, a factor Doncaster acknowledged as he insisted his members deserve credit for the stance they took yesterday.
“I think it surprised a number of people,” added Doncaster. “Money is important in professional football and what our chairmen have done today is put aside the short-term commercial considerations that would ordinarily drive behaviour, in favour of the longer term interests of their clubs. Supporter involvement is clearly a massive part of that.
“A number of people will argue that the decision made today has enhanced the reputation of the SPL. It would have been easier to say ‘Yes’ to the newco or defer the decision. What the clubs have done is to be bold and make the more difficult decision, which is to say ‘No’.
“Ultimately you can characterise it as you see it, whether that’s as brave or as a gamble. Some people will see it one way, some the other. Some will see it as both. Ultimately they believe they are doing the right thing and they have made an important decision today. It is one that brings a little bit more clarity to an unclear world.”
Doncaster cannot yet quantify the financial cost of losing Rangers from the SPL and will now await the judgment of SFL clubs on the proposal to admit the newco directly into their First Division, which would retain the bulk of the value from television contracts next season.
“It depends where Rangers end up,” said Doncaster. “Until we know where Rangers are playing next season, we won’t be able to ascertain what the damage is commercially to the Scottish game.
“We will not be getting involved with that. It’s a decision for the SFL. We will have to respond to that decision when it’s made. It’s important we step back and let the rest of football make their decisions, as ours have made a big decision today. We hope that a good decision will be made for the benefit of the game in Scotland as a whole.
“We are all crossing a stream here and no-one is going to remain dry. We are all going to get wet, that’s the reality. As a result of misdeeds from a small number of individuals, everyone in Scottish football will be paying a price I’m afraid. That’s not fair, it’s not right, but it is reality. How much of a price is paid will depend on where Rangers find themselves in the new season.”
The SPL’s next priority is to identify who will replace Rangers as Club 12 in the new season which kicks off on 4 August. Three First Division clubs – Dunfermline, Dundee and Falkirk – currently meet SPL criteria.
“Our clubs have not made a decision on that yet,” added Doncaster. “We will do so in due course after the SFL have deliberated. The principles which will be applied to that decision will be down to the clubs. We can give guidance. I wouldn’t want to predict which of those three clubs which meet the criteria our clubs will pick.”
Green, meanwhile, will press ahead with an application to join the SFL which in itself will be subject to obtaining a transfer of SFA membership from Rangers to the newco.
“We will now proceed as we had planned from late June to apply for membership of the SFL,” added Green. “It is entirely a matter for them whether our application will be accepted or rejected and we will make no representation to any member club prior to that application being considered. We also recognise that the SPL has been placed in a difficult position because of the way events have unfolded.
“If our application were to be accepted, Rangers will play in whichever division the SFL sees fit and we will move forward from there. The club hopes that the supporters, who have been absolutely tremendous since the club went into administration on 14 February, will continue to support the club and make Rangers a success once again.”
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