The vote is in and the owners of newco Rangers are left to deal with the realization that their newly formed club won’t be playing in the Scottish Premier League next season.
The twelve SPL teams met at Hampden Park and were balloted on whether to allow the newco Rangers to replace oldco Rangers in the top division. Rangers received one yes vote, one abstention and ten no votes. The only team who wanted Rangers to stay was Rangers.
After the level and complexity of the debt accrued under the Craig Whyte became more apparent, liquidation became inevitable. This has led the new owners to establish what is technically a new football club, transferring the assets they purchased from the liquidated oldco Rangers to their newco Rangers.
Unfortunately for Blues fans, newco Rangers isn’t automatically entitled to oldco Rangers’ place in the SPL, hence the vote. Having now lost their place in the SPL they face a similar scenario with the clubs in the lower divisions.
“The Scottish Football League clubs will be meeting again next Thursday and will be voting on that. It remains to be seen how that plays out.” – SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster.
Exactly which division they end up in is as yet unknown but they have already lost a large number of players who have refused to have their contracts transferred to newco Rangers.
Steven Naismith (Everton), Steven Whittaker (Norwich), Jamie Ness (Stoke),
John Fleck (Coventry) and Kyle Lafferty (Sion) have already signed contracts with new clubs. Allan McGregor, Steven Davis, Rhys McCabe and Sone Aluko have all refused to have their contracts transferred and are expected to sign with new clubs soon.
If the SFL votes not to allow Rangers to join Division One they face starting from Division Three, or at least they can apply to do so. This would surely lead to a further exodus of players, removing further value from the struggling club.
With Rangers free-falling through the divisions the SPL is left as a one horse race but the questions have to raised regarding how much interest there is going to be in a title race which already appears to be a foregone conclusion.
It could be argued that getting rid of their debt, starting from the bottom and building the club back again over a five to ten year period will be good for the club in the long-term. But will the SPL survive the loss of one of it’s two biggest draws? Newco Rangers may be free of their debt but several of the remaining clubs, including Celtic, have debts which may be harder to manage now.
Nature abhores a vacuum so we may see Hearts or Motherwell step up to the plate to offer a legitimate challenge Celtic but even that could take a couple of seasons. The individual clubs’ reasons for voting against Rangers staying the Premier League are valid, you do the crime you should face the time, but is it the best thing for Scottish football? As always, only time will tell. For now Rangers fans will spend their time hoping for more yeses than noes when the SFL meet to decide their newco clubs fate.