Rangers demoted to Third Division
Cash-strapped Glasgow giants Rangers will play in the Third Division next seasonfollowing a vote of Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs yesterday in a move that couldhave enormous consequences for the entire future of Scottish football.
Already expelled from the Scottish Premier League (SPL), following the formation of a new company or newco that took place after Rangers entered administration, the Gers were dropped to the lowest tier of Scottish league football during a meeting of Scottish Football League chairmen.
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan had said that demoting Rangers to the Third Division would cause financial catastrophe and a “slow, lingering death” of the Scottish game.
Regan argued the 140-year-old Rangers, Scottish football’s most successful club, should be dropped just one tier to the First Division.
But at a news conference after yesterday’s meeting at Hampden Park it was announced that 25 out of the 30 SFL clubs had voted for Rangers to be entered into the Third Division instead.
“It has been a very, very important day for Scottish football,” said SFL chief executive David Longmuir.
“We have voted to willingly accept Rangers as an associate member of the SFL.
“The only acceptable position will be to place Rangers FC into the Third Division from that start of this season, 2012/13. This decision followed a tried and tested process.”
Safeguarding the multi-million pound commercial deals on which Scotland’s professional clubs rely so heavily was central to Regan’s stance, with a new television deal worth £80 million over five seasons reputedly dependent on the screening of four Rangers vs Celtic Old Firm derbies a season.
Broadcasters were said to be prepared to go no more than one year without these showcase matches.
Meanwhile, it has still to be decided if Dunfermline, relegated from the SPL last season, or First Division runners-up Dundee will take Rangers’ place in next term’s top-flight.
Police are conducting a criminal investigation into the takeover of Rangers by Craig Whyte in May 2011.
Businessman Whyte bought an 85% shareholding in Rangers for £1 from previous owner Sir David Murray and made several pledges regarding paying off the club’s bank debt.
However, Rangers went into administration on February 14 this year following court action from UK tax officials.
Administrators announced subsequently Rangers had failed to pay about £9m in tax since Whyte’s takeover.