Rangers hit rock bottom as SFL bows to fan fury

Chairmen vote Glasgow club into Third Division amid chaos over 'SPL 2' plans

Football in Scotland was plunged into chaos yesterday when Rangers were relegated into the Third Division following a vote by Scottish Football League chairmen at Hampden Park.

In the most dramatic day in the 122-year history of the SFL, 25 of the 30 member clubs rejected pleas from the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football Association to show leniency to the Rangers "newco" and only demote them one division.

Instead, in a huge rebuff that has potentially massive ramifications, the SFL took the decision to relegate Rangers three divisions, and risk the "armageddon" that the SPL chief executive, Stewart Regan, had warned would follow such an action.

The Rangers chief executive, Charles Green, and manager, Ally McCoist, came out in the immediate aftermath of the decision and said they supported it, even though it means their club cannot play in the SPL until the 2015-16 season at the very earliest.

However, the spectre of the launch of an "SPL 2" remained late last night and Rangers officials were tight-lipped about the possibility. The 11 remaining members of the Scottish Premier League will meet on Monday and launching another division, or even questioning the initial demotion of Rangers, are both believed to be under consideration.

Jim Ballantyne, the SFL president, admitted his organisation would be powerless if there was a desire to ensure Rangers were not relegated to the lowest tier of the game in Scotland.

"We don't have any control over the SPL and they are entitled to do whatever they wish within their own rules," he said. "But it is important to mention the Division One clubs went out of their way to make it clear their route regarding a solution involved all 42 teams. I think that says a lot for them.

"Other bodies are going to have to look at the decision we've taken and decide what view they take. As far as we're concerned, it's crystal clear and it was a massive majority.

"The talk of financial meltdown is scary for everybody but that completely ignores the views of fans. They've been vociferous in their view of what this whole situation may bring. The message coming across from every club is exactly the same, even from Rangers fans themselves. If they had their choice, it would be Division Three. That reflected the views of First, Second and Third Division clubs."

McCoist, who has just a handful of established first-team footballers at his disposal at the current time, said: "I fully accept the decision of the SFL today and thank them for allowing us into the SFL.

"Clearly, starting again from the bottom league is not ideal and makes the task of rebuilding Rangers a longer one but the SFL was placed in an impossible situation and I respect its decision. I fully supported the fans' views that starting again in Division Three maintains the sporting integrity that the SPL clubs were so keen on.

"The SPL clubs and the SFA have made their positions clear over the last few weeks and it remains to be seen what the long term effects of their decisions will be. Rangers has been severely punished for the actions of some individuals who previously ran the club and it will take time for us to recover but we will come back stronger thanks to the loyalty of the fans and the commitment of everyone at Ibrox who are working tirelessly to bring stability and success back to Rangers.

"I will be carefully monitoring events and reactions over the new few days and will be making further comments, probably early next week."

However the response of those chairmen who voted Rangers into the lowest tier of the domestic game as they left the historic meeting at Hampden Park last night suggested they were prepared for the very real possibility of a further civil war inside Scottish football.

"What remains to be seen is whether us having made that decision leads on to others beginning to interfere and gerrymander," said the Raith Rovers chairman, Turnbull Hutton. "We await, with interest, what happens. I said last week that today was important. Today isn't the endgame in this; let's not kid ourselves."

John Yorkston, the Dunfermline chairman, said: "We'll have to see what develops on Monday and I'm not sure it's over yet. I'm sure there'll be a twist in the tale, and that will come out on Monday when the SPL meet."

Key to developments over the next 48 hours will be the reaction of Sky TV and ESPN to yesterday's decision. Sky's new five-year £110m contract to broadcast Scottish football has not yet been signed and their agreement includes four Old Firm league games a season.

While the very smallest clubs in Scotland took their decision based on huge fan hostility to the idea of relegating Rangers only one division, those at the basement of the SPL rely significantly on the funding from television revenue. Dundee United picked up £1.4m from the SPL because of the television deal last season, but it has been suggested that figure will fall to around £200,000 if the new deal is not signed.

As things stand, however, Rangers will begin next season in the Third Division of Scottish football with an away fixture at Peterhead, whose ground has a capacity of just 3,250 and who played a friendly last night against Inverurie Loco Works.

Rangers, who have won the Scottish title a record-breaking 54 times and have never been relegated, will take the place of Stranraer and complete their fixtures for the 2012-13 season.But that is dependent on developments in the SPL meeting on Monday.

Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own