Rangers' hopes that a newco club could be admitted straight back into the Clydesdale Bank Premier League are hanging by a thread after Hearts and Dundee United said they would vote against the move.
The Glasgow club require an 8-4 majority vote in their favour when the SPL's 12 clubs - including Rangers - decide the issue at a general meeting on July 4. Otherwise they face the likelihood of dropping to Division Three.
Both Hearts and Dundee United cited the integrity of the competition as the reason for their decision, with Hearts chairman Vladimir Romanov saying in a statement on the club's website that it was about "keeping order in the SPL".
Romanov added: "Supporters deserve a new beginning and have to accept the fact that their club has to start from the lower keep, keeping order in the SPL and without creating unfair competition with other clubs."
Dundee United said they had come to their conclusion after discussions with fans' groups.
In a statement they said: "The board.. are unequivocal in the belief that a form of sporting punishment must form part of the reasoning behind any decision made and therefore, cannot vote the newco into the SPL."
Inverness and Motherwell have both indicated that they will leave it up to their respective clubs' supporters- but Caley chairman Kenny Cameron gave a strong hint his club's vote would go the same way.
In an open letter on the club's website, Cameron said: "It is fair to say that those who say that Rangers have been punished sufficiently are in an extremely small minority of all the representations received."
Motherwell, who are in the process of moving to a fan-owned model, said they would leave the decision up to the Well Society but regretted the implications would be "substantial and negative under all likely scenarios".
Motherwell's statement added: "The decision-making on 'newco' is rendered extremely difficult by the complexity of the potential scenarios and the uncertainty around the likely financial implications of all of them."
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