Rangers to play in Scottish fourth flight next season
Clubs from Scottish Football League voted on the issue Friday
Glasgow giants were liquidated at the end of last season
New company were expelled from the Scottish Premier League
Glasgow Rangers, one of European football’s most famous clubs, must play in the fourth flight of their domestic league next season, Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs decided Friday.
The 30 clubs were asked to vote on admitting the most successful club in their country to the SFL and in which division they should be placed.
Cash-strapped Rangers went into administration earlier this year and a new company was formed to allow them to continue as a professional team.
They were subsequently expelled from the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and had to turn to the lesser SFL for next season.
At a news conference at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, it was announced that 25 of the 30 clubs had voted for Rangers to start the 2012-13 season in the SFL Third Division.
“It has been a very, very important day for Scottish football,” SFL chief executive David Longmuir told a press conference.
“We have voted to willingly accept Rangers as an associate member of the SFL (29 out of 30 clubs in favor)
“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
“Today’s decision has been one of the most difficult for all concerned but it has been taken in the best interest of sporting fairness, which is the fundamental principle of the SFL.”
But that decision is likely to have severe financial implications for Scottish football, which has struggled to attract the cash lavished on the English Premier League (EPL) south of the border.
As one of its two great clubs, part of the famous “Old Firm” with Glasgow rivals Celtic, was facing up to years in the wilderness, the EPL sealed a sponsorship deal with Barclays Bank worth £40 million ($62.18 million).
The three year deal is a near 50 per cent increase on the previous sums paid by Barclays and follows a month after the EPL improved a 70 per cent increase in the value of its domestic television rights to more than £3 billion ($4.67B) over three years to 2016.
By contrast, the sponsorship and television deals for Scottish football are comparatively modest. A new five year television deal for the SPL, starting from the 2012-13 season, will bring in £80 million ($124.5m).
Derby matches between Rangers and Celtic, who traditionally battle for the honors in the SPL, are the main attraction for Scottish football fans and armchair viewers.
Reports have suggested that the new TV deal may even founder if a certain number of Old Firm matches cannot be guaranteed.
Rangers have also been regulars in the European Champions League since its inception. They won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 and as recently as 2008 were runners-up in the UEFA Cup (Now Europa League).
SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster and his Scottish Football Association counterpart Stewart Regan both lobbied for Rangers to be placed in the SFL Division One so they could secure a quick return to the top flight, but their pleas were ignored.
Rangers went into administration on February 14 this year following court action from UK tax officials.
Businessman Charles Green purchased the assets of the club for £5.5 million ($8.55m) and they were transferred into a new company in June.
Several leading players have since left the 54-time Scottish champions, claiming their contracts were effectively annulled when the new company was founded.
Reacting to the SFL decision, Green said: “We are grateful to be accepted as members of the SFL and accept their decision to vote us into Division 3.
“This decision maintains the sporting integrity that clubs and fans across Scotland have been calling for but it also impacts massively on Scottish football as a whole and only time will tell what the consequences will be.
“We are a football club and we just want to get back to playing football. Now is the time to move on and start afresh.”