Rangers newco: SFL clubs warned they face the devil’s alternative
DAMNED if they do, doomed if they don’t.
If you believe the numbers being crunched by Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster, that is the unenviable scenario facing the Scottish Football League’s 30 clubs when they gather at Hampden next Friday to decide the fate of newco Rangers.
The SFL chairmen and chief executives know they will face a severe backlash from their supporters if they accept the Regan-led proposal for the Ibrox club to land gently in the First Division. If they vote against it, insisting the Third Division must be the starting point for the reconstituted Rangers, they will be under threat of the formation of an SPL2 which would cut them further adrift from the financial summit of the game.
For SFL chief executive David Longmuir, it is the defining moment of his tenure. Can he seize an unprecedented chance for his clubs to secure a greater share of Scottish football’s money and influence, while at the same time retaining his organisation’s moral credibility?
Publicly at least, he does not accept Regan’s drastic observation that Scottish football will die if Rangers are not allowed to take a place in the second tier of the senior league set-up. But there is no doubt Longmuir is ready to try and maximise the return his clubs would receive for making such a gesture.
“Scottish football will survive no matter what happens,” said Longmuir. “But I think there is an opportunity here to put some things in place that will stand us in good stead for the future.
“The clubs should be thinking about things like how they want to see the game governed and structured going forward, how they would like to see the finances distributed. As quickly as possible, let’s get back on the pitch.
“I don’t feel we are in a position of power now. I just feel we are in a position to improve the game factually. I have great belief that the game will come out of this better. What we are about to embark on is a plan of change which will radically shake up the game and let fans and other stakeholders see what we are trying to achieve here.
“It’s not about the status quo, it’s about moving the game forward. There are one or two different strands of structure we are looking at. Not just in terms of governance, but the make-up of the leagues, how the game is financed and how the finance trickles through the game.”
One of Longmuir’s priorities ahead of the crucial vote is to cool many of the fevered brows among his member clubs. Accusations of bullying, lying and corruption have filled the air over the past week in reaction to what is seen by many as a blatant passing of the buck by the SPL in seeking a solution to the Rangers crisis.
“The clubs have to have the freedom to make the right decisions,” added Longmuir. “That’s my ask of everyone who has a stake in and a feel for the game. Give them a chance. We are confident we know what’s right for the game because of our closeness, passion and feel for the game. Those are the key things for us. I believe we have the pulse of Scottish football and that’s something we can use for everyone’s benefit.
“What happens before Friday is more important than Friday itself. There will be a lot of work done in the lead-up, so clubs have the information that they need to take the game forward. The key thing is to get things in place that will make voting very easy. There will definitely be a vote but if we can get the groundwork done and knock a few heads together and get it sorted, then next Friday should hopefully be a good meeting. And everything should be quite clear after that.
“The concern that clubs are being bullied has been manifested in many different ways over the last few days. The President [Jim Ballantyne] and myself have taken on board everything that has come our way. We’ve stood up to it, handled the pressure and it’s now time to just give us a break.
“We’ll have further dialogue with the SFA between now and next Friday. There are one or two things that we need to iron out. We need some more detail on our plans. Trying to bring everyone with you in football is a difficult. It is a ‘herding butterflies’ scenario as the president likes to say. It’s a good analogy of what you’ve got in football. You’ll never get everybody but you can get most of them and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
SFL president Ballantyne, whose club Airdrie United are set to abstain from next week’s vote as they could benefit with promotion in the event of Rangers joining at Third Division level, denied that his organisation are being pressured by the SFA and SPL to ensure the First Division option goes through. “No-one has told us we have got to do anything,” said Ballantyne. “All we are interested in is getting everyone together and working as a big team. You will never be able to convince everyone in a group of 30 that everything is absolutely right, especially in circumstances like this.
“People are beginning to accept there is technically not a right answer to this. It is a case of looking to see what the best answer is, not the correct answer. It is the bigger picture and that is what the SFL will be concentrating on in the next seven days.
“We are looking at the best model for Scottish football, working on that and delivering that. Then it is down to the will of the clubs and whether they believe that is the best thing to do. There are 30 clubs in the organisation and they will decide on the day . It is not for us to try and shoehorn something in. We are trying to do what we think is best. After that, it is democracy and that is how the organisation should be run.”
Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall, a member of the SFL board, accepted the irony of the situation the organisation’s clubs find themselves in after the SPL’s rejection of newco Rangers.
“It’s a fair comment to say we are being asked to do the opposite of what the SPL did,” said McDougall. “It’s down to each individual club’s view and we are on record with ours.
“It’s a very difficult situation all round. Our club would survive, wherever Rangers go. We would make sure of that. It’s the base of the argument, isn’t it?”
l Third Division Stranraer have advised that they intend to vote at the SFL meeting next week to discuss whether ‘Newco’ Rangers should be admitted into the Hampden body and at what level. The Stair Park side were beaten finalists in the play-offs and would benefit from a move up the leagues if the Glasgow side are placed in the Third Division. However, they do not feel compelled to abstain in a similar manner to Airdrie United.
The Wigtownshire club have already advised that “they see no reason to breach the integrity of the SFL by filling a vacancy at any level other than at the lowest tier” and they intend to cast their vote appropriately. SPL-bound Dundee were informed that they will not be allowed to vote due to a conflict of interest. However, Stranraer have received no such instruction and committee member Iain Dougan said, “Our view is that this vote is a bigger issue than any promotion for Stranraer. If we were asked not to vote we could argue that no First Division club should vote as they have a financial incentive to have Rangers in their Division.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West