ALLY McCoist tonight came out in favour of newco Rangers joining the Third Division, hours after the Scottish Football League set a dramatic date of Friday the 13th to determine whether the Ibrox club should be admitted to the First Divsion next season.
McCoist declared that the “sporting integrity” argument that saw 10 Scottish Premier League clubs reject their top-flight application means Rangers cannot then be relaunched in the First Division.
The Ibrox manager says he needs to sign about a dozen players and claimed he would have a better chance of rebuilding from the bottom as he called for an end to the “punishment”.
McCoist followed chief executive Charles Green’s lead in saying the club would accept whatever fate the Scottish Football League deal them – but he added his weight to calls from the majority of fans that they should restart in the Third.
Reacting to Wednesdays’s SPL rejection in an interview with RangersTV, McCoist said: “Like everyone else involved at our club, extremely disappointed is putting it mildly. We are now in the hands of David Longmuir at the SFL, who is certainly a man that Charles and I trust implicitly.
“He is a good, honest man that I firmly believe has the best interests of Scottish football at heart, of that there is no doubt.
“Out of all the characters involved in this situation, I think David and his member clubs have been very unfortunate to have been put in a position where they have to make a decision. Whatever decision they reach, we will accept. Having said that, from my meetings with our supporters, and the vast majority of SPL chairmen have been listening to their supporters, which is great, I’m all for it. We had a meeting with our supporters last night and the vast majority of them – in the region of 75-80 per cent – have said enough is enough, let’s go to SFL 3. Our good friends at Celtic across the city issued a statement that stated that integrity was of paramount importance to Scottish football, and we totally agree with that, and I would imagine the vast majority of all SPL chairmen agree with that statement.”
SFL chief executive David Longmuir, meanwhile, insists his organisation’s 30 clubs can be trusted to make the right decision on the future of Rangers when they hold one of the most momentous extraordinary general meetings in their 122-year history next week. There remains a strong body of opinion among SFL clubs and their supporters that Rangers should have to start life in the Third Division, in line with the feelings of McCoist.
However, a proposal drafted by Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan is offering SFL clubs the incentive of league reconstruction, an improved financial distribution model and the introduction of play-offs if they agree to provide Rangers with a softer landing in the First Division.
Longmuir is understood to support the plan and admitted he will try to “knock heads together” before next week’s vote in a bid to achieve the outcome he believes will provide his member clubs with the greatest long-term benefit.
But he distanced himself from Regan’s apocalyptic comments, which predicted a “slow, lingering death” for Scottish football if Rangers are not accommodated in the First Division.
“Passions are high at the moment but people need to calm down a bit and give the clubs a chance to take stock,” said Longmuir after a four-and-a-half hour meeting of the SFL board on Wednesday. “A lot of alarmist-type talk needs to stop. Let’s think about the game. I think people need to calm down. They need to let the SFL take the game forward now. We need space. The SFL clubs have been put in a very difficult position. Invidious is the word I would use. Give us time and trust our judgment.
“I feel for our clubs, I absolutely do. They have been put in a position that nobody would have wished. But the converse of that is that I’m glad it’s our clubs who are faced with the task because I trust them implicitly. I think there are wise people at our clubs. We’ve got the right values at our heart, and I think we will do the right thing for the game. But we need time and space to give information and consider it.
“There is a lot of work to be done before next Friday. I would like everyone who has a stake in this game to take the heat off a bit and give them a chance to do the right thing.”
Longmuir revealed that clubs will face more than one question at next week’s meeting before it is determined at which level Rangers are admitted. “The first question will be: are the SFL in a position to accommodate Rangers into the Scottish Football League?” said Longmuir. “We are looking at two types of voting structures – the egm itself where a straightforward majority is required for the first question. That fundamental question will be supplemented by further resolutions we then need to implement, with some requiring different requirements. Some require two-thirds majorities and some straightforward majorities.”