Rangers: We want to play in England

 

Scotland's most successful football club is trying to attract potential investors with an eye on someday playing in the English Premier League.

Rangers, a 54-time Scottish champion, feels less loyalty to its homeland after being forced to start again this season in the fourth tier as punishment for a financial meltdown.

And now the Glasgow club's new ownership believes an exit route from the Scottish leagues is becoming possible as UEFA explores changing cross-border rules.

“The SPL told us face-to-face, 'We don't want you, you aren't welcome,”' Rangers chief executive Charles Green said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the club's planned flotation on a London Stock Exchange market.

And a planned revamp of the Scottish Premier League and three professional divisions below could be Rangers' chance to escape. The overhaul was announced during the offseason just as Rangers was going into liquidation with tax debts exceeding $30 million.

“What we understand is that any restructuring will also revisit the taboo,” Green said. “A bit like, `Don't talk about the war to the Germans.' `Don't mention Rangers and Celtic leaving Scotland.' It was always `Shhh don't mention that.'

”I think the taboo of that is going to be lifted ... Scottish football without Rangers and Celtic might actually become more competitive within the remaining clubs rather than having these two monsters sat above them.“

Rangers is due to float on London's AIM market by the end of the year, and Green has been trying to persuade financial institutions this week that the club has a realistic chance of playing in the English Premier League.

”As a football club, if Rangers were in the Premier League only Manchester United would be bigger,“ Green said. ”Because Arsenal haven't got more fans than Rangers ... the fan base is so big.“

But the barriers to joining the world's richest football league are also vast, with the English Premier League already resisting previous overtures from both Rangers and Glasgow rival Celtic.

”I don't believe the Premier League are hostile towards it because I think it's a generalization,“ Green said. ”Speak to Manchester United. They are not hostile to Rangers joining.“

But United disputed Green's claims.

”We are not in favor of it at all. We are against it,“ United spokesman Phil Townsend said. ”Our view is it's the English Premier League and should remain that way.“

Green, though, pointed to the financial advantages of United being able to play at the 50,000-capacity Ibrox.

”Why would Man United want to play Southampton? Why, when they could play Rangers? Sixty percent of the Premier League don't want Rangers. Of course they don't want Rangers,“ Green said. ”Why would Southampton, Swansea, Wigan, Aston Villa? Why would any of them want Rangers or Celtic in their league. Why would they? It threatens their existence ... but if you asked the big clubs, `Would you like Rangers?“

They would, according to Green. Even in Spain.

”Ask Barcelona and Real Madrid if they would like Rangers and Celtic in their league,“ Green said. ”They definitely would. Why wouldn't Barcelona want to play Rangers home and away as opposed to playing Getafe. They would sell (those) games out.“

In the presentation to potential investors, Green features a quote from Barcelona President Sandro Rosell highlighting the virtue of playing European rivals on weekends.

”What will change football over 5-to-10 years is this insatiable demand for the big clubs to play each other,“ Green said. ”And this is not the insatiable demand from the west Midlands or from north London. This is the demand from the Middle East, Asia, the Far East.“

Green is putting his faith in a UEFA experiment that could remove a key barrier to Rangers leaving the Scottish league. European football's governing body has allowed 16 women's teams in Belgium and the Netherlands to form a cross-border league in a three-year trial.

”The difficulty is that historically I don't think Celtic and Rangers would have been allowed to consider leaving Scotland,“ Green said. ”What is now going to change things ... is now we've got this cross-border league for women.“

Rangers' demotion means that Scotland's only internationally attractive fixture is off the calendar - the Old Firm derby against Celtic.

And at Celtic's annual general meeting today, chief executive Peter Lawwell said he believed expanding leagues beyond borders could become a reality.

”We are committed to the SPL but nothing stays the same,“ Lawwell said. ”There are initiatives in Europe. UEFA have opened their mind up to some form of regional leagues.

“I think they recognize the polarization between the top leagues and the smaller leagues in terms of media values. There are very early proposals that may look at regional leagues.”

Green bought Rangers' assets for 5.5 million pounds ($8.7 million), and four months later he is already hopeful of raising about 30 million pounds ($48 million) from a flotation on London's AIM exchange. Fans are expected to invest 21 million pounds (about $33 million) in shares.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks