Newco Rangers set for SPL rejection

 

Charles Green's Rangers were today effectively consigned to start life outside the Scottish Premier League when Aberdeen became the crucial fifth club to confirm they would vote against a newco application.

Inverness had earlier joined Hearts, Dundee United and Hibernian in making public their intention to vote no.

Green needs seven other clubs as well as the soon-to-be liquidated Rangers to vote in his favour at a meeting next Wednesday and, unless there is a U-turn from at least one chairman, there will be no top-flight football at Ibrox next season.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne said in a statement: "Traditionally we have preferred not to make public our voting intentions, but in light of the level of interest and the fact other clubs have chosen to show their hand, on this occasion I can confirm it is our intention to oppose readmission to the SPL for any Rangers newco."

Other clubs are likely to follow suit. Motherwell have entrusted members of their newly-created fans' ownership group with the decision while St Mirren have launched a formal consultation with supporters.

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston previously argued that Rangers had been punished enough but the Ayrshire club subsequently invited supporters to make their feelings known.

Fans have become the key element in the process and the Inverness board earlier came to a unanimous decision after struggling to sell season tickets.

Caley Thistle chairman Kenny Cameron said: "The past few weeks have been extremely hectic in terms of our supporters and season ticket holders making their views known in great numbers to the club, as is their right.

"It is fair to say that in excess of 95% of them raised the issue of sporting integrity as the reason why they don't want the newco to be admitted and had not yet renewed their season tickets.

"Financially, we examined the various scenarios and, frankly, none of them were positive for our club. It is extremely disappointing to be adversely affected by something not of our doing, unfortunately this is a similar situation for the rest of the clubs in SPL.

"We have also been contacted by supporters of various other SPL clubs, saying they would not be back to Inverness if we did not accept that sporting integrity was what mattered, but this is something that we had already considered and it is not only the integrity of the SPL that is at stake but the integrity of Scottish football."

Cameron added: "We would be in a completely untenable position, financially and morally, if we defied the overwhelming demand of our own paying customers who are, after all, what Caley Thistle are all about."

Attempts to accommodate Rangers in the Scottish Football League had already begun with the Scottish Football Association using the crisis to push ahead with proposals to restructure key elements of the game.

The SFA want a merger of the two league bodies as well as a pyramid system and a play-off that could see another top-flight club relegated.

Talks have been held between the three bodies that could see Green's club admitted to the Irn-Bru First Division instead of inviting them to apply for entry to the Third Division in a bid to protect commercial income but Falkirk have already stated their objection to such a scenario.

And Aberdeen argued that such major change should be considered more carefully.

Milne said: "If readmission were to be refused, we believe the appropriate course of action would be for Rangers newco to apply for membership to the SFA and to submit an application for admission to the SFL."

He added: "Reorganisation of the game is a priority and is something we have been actively involved in for a long time, but it is not something that should be rushed through just to deal specifically with one club.

"As we have indicated there are a number of other areas that we feel need to be addressed openly in the coming period if Scottish football fans are to feel that their views have been properly taken into account."

One pressing issue is which club would complete the make-up of the SPL next season if and when Green's application is rejected.

It is understood that the SPL clubs themselves would make that decision and it could be next Wednesday before it is announced.

Dunfermline finished bottom of the SPL last season, and were owed money from Rangers, but Dundee also have a claim having finished second behind promoted Ross County in the First Division.

Meanwhile, the continuing uncertainty could delay a St Mirren takeover until next summer.

The 10,000 Hours community ownership group, who have received financial pledges from more than 1,000 fans, had been hoping to assume control next week but the deal has been delayed.

Members of the group have been asked whether they would be prepared to support the club with increased donations should commercial revenues fall.

The consultation document said: "Depending on the funding required, this may delay the purchase for a year with your monthly contribution going towards helping the club directly while helping to maintain the integrity of Scottish football."

PA

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