Scottish footballing giants “Rangers” will play in Scottish division 3 next year after a “vast majority” of clubs voted in favour of them joining the lowest level of Scottish professional football. The bankrupt club were forced to liquidate the previous company and new chief executive, Charles Green, has set up a “newco” in which the Glagow team could still operate. This decision could have enormous financial consequences upon SPL teams and SFL teams alike, as television rights will have to be renegotiated.
Glasgow Rangers football club went into administration earlier in the year due to debts of an astonishing £134 million. This meant the company was liquidated and as a result its registrations with the SPL and SFA were terminated. They were then denied re-entry to the SPL, as they did not attain enough votes from SPL clubs. This meant the Rangers had to apply to enter into the Scottish Football League and hoped to enter straight into Scottish Division 1, but this was met with fierce opposition from a number of clubs who felt the protocol for entering into the League was being bypassed. A number of the smaller teams expressed doubts, as to whether Rangers would be financially viable in a lower division. Clyde football club, one of numerous clubs who released a statement before the vote said;
“We have received absolutely no information on the organisation… whom we are being asked, and encouraged, to vote straight into the top division of the SFL under resolution two and possibly into SFL 3 under Resolution one.”
There was also considerable risk in putting a team with a fan base as large, as the Rangers into the lowest professional league in Scotland; additional costs of policing a large number of fans for small clubs, some of whom have average attendances in the low hundreds, could drive them into financial difficulties.
However, there were great financial benefits for the Rangers and other SFL Division 1 teams, as they are a huge financial draw for sponsors and television rights and a likely one year break from the SPL would not have resulted in a major re-negotiation of sponsorships and Tv rights. However, a potential of four or more years out of the top flight could be disasterous for the SPL teams, as the flagship match of Scottish football, The Old Firm Derby, would not take place barring an occasional cup tie.
Smaller clubs have also expressed worries that their votes will be ignored and the SFA will push the League into a two League system with an SPL1 and SPL2, with rangers in the top flight. This could be potentially disasterous for Scottish football; being a rushed change just weeks before the start of the season.
However, at this point it looks more likely that the Rangers will start next season in the depths of division 3 playing relative unknowns, such as Montrose and East Stirling. It’s difficult to predict how these rulings will affect Scottish football, but what is certain is that the Rangers and Scottish football in general are facing their toughest times.