Goian's refusal to play in Scottish fourth tier could spark player exodus at Ibrox

 

Dorin Goian was the first Rangers player to reveal he will leave the club rather than play in the Scottish Third Division, but the likelihood is that more will follow.

The Ibrox side are due to kick-off the league season in the bottom tier with an away trip to Peterhead in four weeks, but it seems certain that at least the current international players in the squad will join Goian in seeking a move.

Maurice Edu and Carlos Bocanegra will not want to damage their places in the US national squad by playing in the Third Division, while Lee Wallace may also consider his position at Ibrox, despite the Scotland full-back recently pledging his future to the club.

Eight players asserted their right under employment law not to accept their contracts being transferred to the newco company that now owns Rangers, and so left for nothing, and the three further departures will be the first consequences of the decision by Scottish Football League clubs on Friday to vote Rangers into the Third Division.

Goian had been prepared to play in the First Division but the SFL clubs voted against placing Rangers in the tier below the top-flight. The SPL clubs themselves had previously rejected the request from the newco Rangers company to go into the Premier League.

Manager Ally McCoist accepted the decision for his team to begin next season in the Third Division but the reality for him now is some frantic squad rebuilding.

Rangers will dwarf every other club in the bottom tier, and if crowds held up at Ibrox, Rangers could still afford to pay wages higher than most SPL teams.

The reality is, however, that there is obvious financial uncertainty around the club currently.

Barely any season tickets have been sold due to unease among supporters about the investors behind, and intentions of, Sevco, the consortium run by Charles Green, the former Sheffield United chief executive, that now owns Rangers.

It is likely that most fans will now buy tickets on game by game, but that won't stop the Ibrox side being able to offer wage terms that are more attractive than most other Scottish clubs.

The likes of Lee McCulloch, Kirk Broadfoot and Neil Alexander are all paid five-figure sums a week and those terms still apply.

Rangers are interested in signing Ian Black and Craig Beattie, the former Hearts midfielder and striker, and both players could yet be tempted to join the Ibrox club's drive to climb back up through the divisions if they are offered long-term deals that other Scottish sides could not match.

McCoist would still have to manage the balance between young, inexperienced players and a small core of battle-hardened veterans.

The Rangers support would also reduce from the numbers commonly attracted in the SPL, but the mood among the fans is to get behind the club in its hour of need, although they are torn by their suspicions about the current owners.

The scenario can also change, since the SPL clubs are meeting tomorrow, ostensibly to decide whether Dunfermline or Dundee replace Rangers in the top flight.

But they could also push ahead with plans for SPL2 and invite Rangers, plus nine other teams, to break away from the SFL. However, it is not thought enough clubs would be willing to do this.

The SPL could also, in theory, change its stance and offer Rangers a place in the top flight. Most clubs voted against this on the assumption that the Ibrox side would be accommodated in the First Division and that Sky would honour the terms of the broadcast deal with other commercial partners if Rangers were only out of the SPL for one season.

The Scottish Football Association must also process Rangers' membership application now that they have a league place, and the governing body has asked for clarification on a number of issues, including the source of the current owners' funding.

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