Representatives of all 30 SFL clubs will gather at the national stadium tomorrow morning to debate the document distributed to them last week. Drafted by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan in conjunction with Longmuir and Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster, one of its key proposals is the admission of Charles Green’s reformed Rangers into the First Division. The move has caused widespread disquiet among fans of SFL clubs, who believe the Ibrox club should instead have to submit an application to join the Third Division in the wake of their failure to emerge successfully from administration.
No vote on the issue will be carried out at tomorrow’s meeting. Under SFL rules, a minimum of five days’ notice is required to call an extraordinary general meeting of clubs where any such resolution can be put to what would be a secret ballot.
Tomorrow’s meeting, called by the SFL board last week, is intended to gauge opinion among the member clubs and for Longmuir and his fellow board members to try and persuade them of the merits of a proposal which would eventually see the organisation amalgamate with the SPL from the 2013-14 season.
“The Scottish Football League would like to acknowledge and thank all fans who have taken the time to contact us in relation to the current critical issues affecting our game,” said Longmuir in a statement tonight.
“Many fans have shared with us their concerns and their views on opportunities for the broader game which may arise out of the current issue. I can confirm that every piece of communication has been read objectively and sincerely, and that many contributions have been insightful and thought-provoking. We will, however, be unable to respond to each individual piece of correspondence. I thank you for your understanding.”
Some clubs, however, have already taken the strong views of their supporters on board by publicly declaring their opposition to Rangers being placed in the First Division. Falkirk, Raith Rovers, Morton, Dunfermline and Clyde have stated they would vote against the proposal. Several others, including Partick Thistle and Alloa, have released statements pledging to take feedback from their fans on board before making a decision.
SFL president Jim Ballantyne, meanwhile, has revealed he intends to abstain from any vote as his own club, Airdrie United, could be among the beneficiaries of Rangers joining the organisation. If the Ibrox club were admitted to the Third Division, Airdrie would be promoted to the First Division as the runners-up in last season’s play-off final. Ballantyne found himself in a similar position in both 2008 and 2009 when Airdrie moved up a division as a result of the respective demotions of Gretna and Livingston for insolvency events.
“We are going to abstain from voting because Airdrie could benefit from a particular decision,” said Ballantyne. “But it is not a formal vote [on Tuesday], we are just looking for a steer from the clubs. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We are going to completely run through the document sent to all SFL clubs last week and assess all the various options available.”
The SPL will be keeping a watchful eye on events along the corridor at Hampden. They are scheduled to hold their own general meeting on Rangers’ future on Wednesday when they will vote on whether the existing SPL share of the Ibrox club is transferred to Charles Green’s newco. Seven clubs – Hearts, Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hibs, St Johnstone, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Mirren – have already publicly declared their intention to vote ‘No’. Green needs an 8-4 vote in his favour to retain SPL status for Rangers.
His newco club require to gain SFA membership in order to play anywhere next season. Their application was received by the SFA’s lawyers on Friday and will be assessed this week.
Meanwhile, Green has vowed to pursue legal claims against the Rangers players who refused to join his new company. Norwich-bound Steven Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty, who joined Swiss side Sion, became the first of ten players who objected to their transfer to the newco to secure moves. However, Green has vowed to fight for transfer money and revealed he had written to every league club in the UK warning them to stay away from the players.
Green said: “Our lawyers will pursue these claims. We have written to every Premier League and Football League club in the UK telling them clearly that we see this as a breach of contract.”