Stalemate at Rangers but bigger tests await

Rangers 0 Motherwell 0: McCall happy as Well prove they are 'best of the rest' against tired Blues
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The Independent Football

Perhaps nothing could sum up the second, sorry half of Rangers' administration-hit Scottish Premier League season than a goalless draw with Motherwell, the team that will finish third, behind the Glasgow side, yet will enter next season's Champions' League in their stead.

The ramifications of Rangers' financial failings will rumble on, however, and their manager, Ally McCoist, speaking after the stalemate at Ibrox, warned of a knock-on effect if Rangers are demoted to the Third Division.

"I just spoke to a radio reporter and he said the phone-lines on the radio station have been jammed with non-Rangers supporters saying we should go down to Division Three and all that kind of stuff. I can understand that but it's not just as simple as that because I do believe there would be a threat to the livelihood of maybe some other clubs in the SPL if that were to happen.

"That's not something I would say lightly but in terms of the finance of Scottish football – sponsors and television money and things like that – it's a massive issue. The right thing to do might be the wrong thing in the long run. It's a big problem."

On the pitch there were problems, too. Having beaten fourth-placed Dundee United 5-0 on Wednesday night, Rangers fans were expecting another feast in the final home match of the season but were left disappointed as Well withstood early pressure in which Lee McCulloch had a shot blocked, Kyle Bartley's shot dipped just over Darren Randolph's crossbar and McCulloch's cutback was collected by Sone Aluko but his tame shot was gathered by Randolph.

Rangers were forced to make a change after just half an hour when Dorin Goian limped off, with what looked like a knee problem, and was replaced by Ross Perry.

Both teams looked livelier after the restart and Steven Whittaker tested Randolph, before Allan McGregor was called into action to block a low shot from Keith Lasley. Whittaker tried turnnig provider, crossing to McCulloch who nodded wide. Motherwell had a decent chance when Chris Humphrey burst into the box and tried to set up the shot for Jamie Murphy in front of goal but Perry managed to clear the danger.

Rangers made a double change when Andy Little and Alejandro Bedoya were thrown into the action in place of Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe.

The Glasgow giants should have opened the scoring when Aluko's corner was met by Carlos Bocanegra but Little inadvertently blocked his team-mate's header. Maurice Edu pounced on the rebound but Randolph made another fine save.

Rangers had a late shout for a penalty when Little went to ground in the box but the pleas were ignored by referee Willie Collum as the match ended goalless.

The Motherwell manager, Stuart McCall, was happiest with the outcome. "We wanted to come here and prove why we are the best of the rest and I thought we did that," he said. "We saw what Rangers did to Dundee United the other night and I thought we acquitted ourselves well. It was a deserved point."

McCoist was less satisfied. "It's really difficult to be too critical of the players but, at the same time, you've got a job to do. We didn't play well at all. We looked a little bit heavy-legged and a little bit tired."

But for McCoist and Rangers, more important than yesterday's result is the outcome of tomorrow's meeting of the 12 top-flight clubs to discuss financial fair play proposals that could mean tougher sanctions for insolvent clubs. If passed, the new rules would mean any club who has undergone an "insolvency transfer event" would be docked 10 points for two seasons and see their League income slashed by 75 per cent for three years, as of next season.

"I just hope it's a favourable result for us on Monday. I can understand that the SPL and the SFA have got big decisions to make and they won't please everybody," added McCoist.

Preferred bidder Bill Miller's plan if he gains control of Rangers is to create an "incubator" company. His "newco" plans would have to be in place by the end of this season to avoid any new SPL rules, otherwise sanctions would be at the discretion of the SPL board.