x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Charles Green says Rangers could make for the English border

Chief executive tells Gary Meenaghan how an overhaul in the Scottish League has the Glasgow club looking to England.

Charles Green, the Rangers chief executive, concedes a move to English football will not be easy.
Charles Green, the Rangers chief executive, concedes a move to English football will not be easy.

Charles Green, the chief executive of Rangers, has derided the planned revamp of Scottish football, labelling it "surreal" and reiterating the club's intention to explore the possibility of emigrating south to England's Conference.

A proposed merger of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and the three tiers below it could see Rangers forced to remain in the country's lowest division next season, despite coasting at the top of the league.

Green, a former chief executive at Sheffield United, is in favour of change, but refused to hide his contempt for the "12-12-18 proposal", criticising the format and timing.

"Something needs to be done because Scottish football is dying," he told The National. "More and more clubs are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and unless something is done there won't be any television, sponsors or fans, because attendances are declining.

"You only have to look at Celtic's league attendance. The most successful team in Scotland today is Celtic, yet for a home league game they can't get half of what we are getting. Something is not right and it needs fixing. But to do it in the middle of the season is wrong."

The Englishman, citing the case of the midfielder Lewis Macleod, who was stretchered off with knee-ligament damage in Rangers' last home match, added: "If next week's game is totally meaningless and nobody can get promoted and nobody can get relegated, is it right that a player should go out there and potentially ruin their career?"

Green said the proposal - which the 12 SPL clubs have unanimously agreed should be in place for next season - has forced Rangers to investigate a potential move to England's Conference, the fifth tier of English football.

"Moving to England is something we have to explore," he said. "But I am intelligent enough to appreciate that it's not something we'll ever get by asking everyone who is in favour to raise their right hand - it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

"Why would Wigan and Southampton want Rangers to come? We'd come in and they would get relegated and lose a pile of money. So the last thing anybody in the Championship or Premier League wants is Rangers or Celtic in their league.

"But, if the question is would Rangers rather, next year, play in the league we are in or go to the Conference, I would go to the Conference in the drop of a hat."

While English Conference clubs agreed last month to discuss the matter, numerous bureaucratic hurdles would need to be overcome. Brian Lee, chairman of the Conference, has also previously warned that clubs have concerns over heightened travel costs and security issues relating to manning Rangers' large support.

Green, however, said a visit to the small towns his team have played at this season would allow observers to witness the benefits of welcoming the Glasgow club.

"We have been travelling around Scotland this year, going to places that you can't find on a Sat-Nav in a Range Rover," he said. "We take 5,000 fans when the average is 400, yet you speak to the mayor or the man in the pie shop in Elgin or Brechin or Annan and ask him if he wants Rangers fans there and the answer is yes.

"So I don't agree there would be problems in England. People need to look forwards not backwards."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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