x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Grim future for Rangers as Scottish clubs warn they do not want new team in top league

Former Scottish champions look set to be denied entry back into the SPL after rival clubs said they would vote to block their admission into the top flight.

Glasgow Rangers showing support for their beleaguered side during a protest at Ibrox.
Glasgow Rangers showing support for their beleaguered side during a protest at Ibrox.

GLASGOW // Former Scottish champions Rangers must face a future playing football outside the top flight after rival Premier League teams warned they would not vote to allow them back into the SPL.

A new Rangers has been formed from the ashes of the previous side, which was put into liquidation earlier this month over substantial unpaid tax debts.

Owner Charles Green had hoped the newco Rangers would take the place of the previous side in the Scottish Premier League, but six SPL teams have now indicated they will vote against such a move at a hearing next week, ensuring the club will not get the 8-4 majority it needs.

The decision represents a significant blow for the Ibrox side, who already face losing key players after they objected to the transfer of their contracts to Green's new company.

Discussions have been held at the top level over putting Rangers into the Irn-Bru First Division amid wider changes to the structure of the Scottish game but SFL clubs would have to approve such a measure and Falkirk have already objected.

Green told STV: "I always want to play at the highest level and that's why we made an application to join the SPL - and whether you're a player, whether you're a fan or whether you're a director of a football club, you always want to see your club playing at the highest level.

"But cream always floats to the top and this club will come back and it will come back at the top - make no mistake."

Some Rangers fans see starting at the bottom of the SFL as the right thing for the club but Green does not share their opinion.

"Well, of course, I accept that that's a view but what we also have to look at is Scottish football is driven by two factors: Rangers and Celtic," he said.

"And the income drivers, the generation, the media, the marketing is all about two clubs, and really I think what we have to do is start looking now at what's best for Scottish football and we all have to now unite behind the club and make sure that the decisions we take going forward achieve that result."

The issue is complicated by uncertainty over Scottish Football Association action, with an appeal hearing due against Rangers before Green bought the club's assets and business.

"There are sanctions that could withdraw the club's ability to play," Green said.

"Part of my job is to work through the issues and make sure we're playing football and we're playing football at Ibrox for many years to come."

Sone Aluko, Rhys McCabe, Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith have already indicated they will not play for the new Rangers, and union chiefs have warned that further players are likely to quit before pre-season training begins on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Strathclyde Police will start a criminal investigation into the final stages of the original club, which is soon to be liquidated, after studying documents relating to Craig Whyte's buyout of Sir David Murray in May last year.

A Crown Office statement read: "The Procurator Fiscal for the West of Scotland will now work with Strathclyde Police to fully investigate the acquisition and financial management of Rangers Football Club and any related reports of alleged criminality during that process."


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