Rangers newco: Scrap the ‘dead parrot’ SPL, says Raith chief Turnbull Hutton
AS they addressed representatives from all 30 Scottish Football League clubs inside the Hampden auditorium yesterday, Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan were seeking to win the hearts and minds of those who have railed against their contentious plan to solve the Rangers crisis.
After five hours of talks, during which the SPL and SFA chief executives were invited to make presentations to the organisation they would like to absorb newco Rangers next season, there was a feeling that at least some clubs were prepared to head home and give it some consideration.
But, no matter how hard they tried, there was one opinion the two Englishmen were never going to change. Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton has emerged as the most outspoken critic of the move to provide Rangers with a soft landing in the First Division and he isn’t about to alter his stance now.
On the contrary, straight-talking Hutton also trained his guns on the SPL as a whole after the meeting, laying the blame for the current situation firmly at their door.
In a saga which has constantly teetered on the brink of being funny if it wasn’t so serious, it seemed almost appropriate that Hutton chose Monty Python’s most famous sketch for inspiration in a withering attack on the league which broke away from the rest of Scottish football back in 1998.
“In essence, the SPL is like a dead parrot,” said Hutton. “It’s financially unsustainable. So it’s hardly up to the First Division to sustain that. There could maybe be a recognition from the top that accepts the SPL is dead, so let’s wind it up. It hasn’t worked for the past 14 years, it has been a failure. It’s all gone belly-up.
“Let’s start again and I’m sure the SFL would welcome applications from some of the teams who are currently in the SPL to join an organisation that is based on sporting integrity.
“I feel the same as I did when I arrived here today. It’s been a long, tiring, boring day.
“A lot of information was given, I don’t know how accurate it is. Various opinions were expressed. But my coming-out position is the same as it was going in.
“I don’t know if they’ll get enough clubs to vote for [Rangers joining the First Division]. I don’t think they were necessarily trying to win people over today, they were trying to paint a picture. People could then take a position.
“Some people might have been swayed, but our position is unchanged. This is a problem of the SPL’s making. But here we are, SFL clubs, spending a whole day where we seem to be the last resort to solve a problem that’s not of our own making. That’s why I objected.
“In my view, people abdicated their responsibilities. They pushed the decision on to a group that had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Now the pressure is on the First Division clubs to find a way out of this. I just think that is wholly wrong.
“I’m never an angry man, I’ll always look on the bright side and see the best in people. I’m well known for my tender, charitable side.
“That said, I’d love a couple of resignations over this. But I’d love promotion and for Raith Rovers to win the European Cup as well. We’ll leave it at that. My view is that there are rules in place and that’s the view I’ve stuck to rigidly.”
Hutton also claimed he has received considerable support for his views from Rangers supporters, despite his unequivocal stance against any preferential treatment being applied to the stricken club’s position.
“My computer has been in meltdown with a significant number of e-mails from Rangers fans who have listened to what I’ve said,” he added. “They say their wish is to go into the Third Division, they want to accept the fact things have gone into meltdown. They say if they go into the Third Division and work their way up, they can hold their heads high and face the rest of Scottish football.”
Asked about the apology issued by Rangers newco chairman Malcolm Murray on behalf of the club yesterday, Hutton alluded to the threats he previously said Raith had received after their director Eric Drysdale sat on the Judicial Panel which imposed a 12-month signing embargo on the Ibrox club.
“It’s long overdue from our point of view,” said Hutton. “If they also sent two buckets of water and a fireman to Kirkcaldy, it would be much appreciated.”
Morton chairman Douglas Rae was more conciliatory in tone as he emerged from the meeting but was also unmoved from his previously-stated position of opposing newco Rangers being admitted to the First Division.
“The meeting went very well, it was very constructive,” said Rae. “Stewart Regan had an input and it was constructive. We got to know a lot of things that we didn’t know beforehand. But there is no finality about it because there is the SPL meeting tomorrow before it can move on. So there was nothing of any consequence.
“It didn’t change my view at all. No vote is planned so far. We can’t really vote until we find out what happens at the SPL meeting. We might be having another meeting next week and that will clarify things. I think there will be an end to it next week
“The SPL might still keep Rangers as members, we don’t know. I didn’t feel there was any pressure being put on the clubs today, none at all. It was just explanations and questions.” Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall, whose own club were demoted to the bottom tier of the SFL after their insolvency event three years ago, expressed his dismay over any prospect of Rangers not having to follow the same path.
“I’ve nothing against Rangers and if it was Celtic, Hibs or Hearts, it would make no difference,” said McDougall. “But people almost seem to have forgot what Livingston went through. The Rangers issue has been piggy-backed on to reconstruction and that’s not right. They are two entirely separate issues.
“Allowing Rangers into the First Division would open a can of worms because what happens if any other SPL club which got into similar financial difficulty wanted to do the same? I’d like to see the SPL and SFL amalgamate, but not in the way that is being proposed because of this particular situation.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east