Rangers doomed to life in Third Division

Ibrox club must start from the bottom after rivals reject attempt to retain their SPL status

Aberdeen delivered the final blow to Rangers' flickering hope of playing in the Scottish Premier League next season, with the Old Firm giants now expected to be demoted to the bottom division, ending a 140-year stay in the top flight.

Charles Green, who bought the Gers for £5.5m earlier this month, was informed that he would have to form a new company following forced liquidation. The newco Rangers had to apply to continue their existence in the SPL. The 11 clubs who currently make up the top flight are due to vote on 4 July, but news came to light yesterday that the application is to be rejected by at least five – meaning Rangers will not be readmitted. They have dominated the game north of the border since the turn of the 20th century – winning the league a record 54 times, coupled with 60 cup triumphs.

Rangers' name was replaced by an anonymous "Club 12" in the fixture list, and they are due to be replaced by either Dunfermline or Dundee. Dunfermline finished bottom of the SPL last season, while Dundee were runners-up in the First Division.

The Glasgow club need to secure an 8-4 majority to have their application passed. Heart of Midlothian and Dundee United had already stated that they would be voting against the proposal, and were joined by Hibernian and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. That meant it needed just one more team to follow suit. Aberdeen obliged, as did St Johnstone later in the day.

"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," the Aberdeen chairman, Stewart Milne, said in a statement.

Hibernian said that the decision of the five clubs "reaffirms the view of the board that the sporting integrity of the SPL is of paramount importance," and there is little talk of fear as to how much money the division can generate without Rangers. Sky Sports and ESPN, the broadcasting companies which show 30 live games a season for a combined fee of £80m in a deal running until the end of the 2016-17 season, refused to be drawn on whether they are bound to the contract until next Wednesday's final vote.

Clubs who have lived in the shadow of Rangers for so long are now eyeing a more competitive race for qualification to the two European competitions. The SPL currently commands two places in the Champions League, with Motherwell having already capitalised on Rangers' ineligibility to play in Europe next season.

The Rangers manager, Ally McCoist, who said in April that demotion to the Third Division would be "morally" correct, has a huge job on his hands keeping his squad together, with players expected to reject the chance to transfer their contracts to the new company.

First-teamers Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith turned down the opportunity over the weekend, and are now believed to be free agents, while Allan McGregor, club captain Steven Davis and Carlos Bocanegra could also quit Ibrox.

Strathclyde Police have begun an investigation into previous owner Craig Whyte's takeover of Rangers. Whyte was in charge when they went into administration in February. "The investigation into alleged criminality follows a preliminary police examination of information passed to them in February this year by club administrators," Scottish prosecutors said.

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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower