‘Bullied, railroaded and lied to’ – SFL clubs rage at Rangers newco plans

35
1372

By Bob Duncan

Raith Rovers director Turnbull Hutton has claimed that clubs in the Scottish Football League (SFL) are being “lied to, bullied and threatened” by the Scottish FA and Scottish Premier League to force them to accept a newco Rangers into the First Division next season.

Hutton described the attempts to force teams to bypass a formal application process for Charles Green’s company as “corrupt”, following threats that finances from the SPL would be cut off and a breakaway ‘SPL2’ league would formed.

By Bob Duncan

Raith Rovers director Turnbull Hutton has claimed that clubs in the Scottish Football League (SFL) are being “lied to, bullied and threatened” by the Scottish FA and Scottish Premier League to force them to accept a newco Rangers into the First Division next season.

Hutton described the attempts to force teams to bypass a formal application process for Charles Green’s company as “corrupt”, following threats that finances from the SPL would be cut off and a breakaway ‘SPL2’ league would formed.

He said: “It is not an SFL issue. We’ve been lumbered with this. There are rules. We feel they should be followed. They [newco Rangers] should apply for the Third Division. [We are being] bullied, railroaded and lied to. We are being lied to by the Scottish FA and the SPL. We are being threatened and bullied. It is not football as I know it.

“It was a ridiculous document which came out last week whereby the threat was there that if you don’t vote for an acceptance into the First Division, a breakaway SPL2 will come along and those who didn’t vote wouldn’t be invited. What kind of game are we running here? It is corrupt.”

When asked if he agreed with the SFL’s assertion that Scottish football would face financial meltdown without Rangers, he replied: “I don’t believe that.”

A presentation sent out by the league to its members last week warned £16m could be wiped out from the Scottish game if Rangers had to play in the bottom tier.

The 30 member clubs of the SFL are meeting at Hampden on Tuesday to discuss proposals which would see Charles Green’s newco parachuted into the First Division, as opposed to applying to enter at Third Division level.

The SFL board has ruled a simple majority will be required in the vote.  A number of clubs have already indicated they will abstain due to a conflict of interest.

Speaking after the meeting to journalists, SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: “Clubs are now in a much more informed position to go back to their own boards and fan groups and take the information we gave them today to go and make informed decisions.  It is time to give them time to reflect on the scenarios and consequences of the different scenarios and engage in proper dialogue with their own boards and fans.

“The meeting was very forthright. We care about the future of the game.  It is time for a bit of reflection and space to digest what they got today. We will all be in a better position in a few day’s time.  I think the magnitude of the situation and the effect of the crisis we have found ourselves in… it doesn’t really matter how it has arisen. It will have a massive impact on the future of the game.”

The 12 Scottish Premier League member clubs will meet today to decide whether to admit the Rangers newco to the league.

A majority of eight votes to four are required to allow the newco to assume the place in the SPL.  Under pressure from fans, the majority of whom are opposed to allowing a newco to enter the SPL, many clubs have stated their position prior to the vote.

The votes are likely to be as follows:

Yes: Rangers

No: Dundee United, Hearts, Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, St Mirren, Motherwell

Motherwell supporters have voted by 82% to 18% not to allow Rangers back into the SPL.  Others have been taking soundings of their supporters, and are apparently coming to the same decision.

Celtic have come under pressure from some of their own supporters to support the smaller clubs and help to ensure that the integrity of the Scottish game is preserved.  The Celtic network web site has published the following statement:

“Celtic FC have until now been silent on the current goings on but now we are the biggest most powerful club in the land we should be stepping in and giving support to these smaller clubs. Celtic should make a strong statement that they will not accept clubs in the lower divisions especially division one to be bullied into accepting a company with no history of playing in any football league in the world never mind Scotland being dropped into their league or give any backing whatsoever to rushing in an SPL 2 just to accommodate the SPL, SFA and SEVCO. That is unless Celtic are party to these proposals. I certainly hope that is not the case.

“Celtic have acted in helping smaller clubs in the past when in 1964 Rangers thought it would be a good idea to boot five clubs out the lower division to change the league structure. Surely Celtic must take the lead in defending the smaller clubs now especially as they are being threatened ,bullied and lied to by the football authorities.

“If the bullies are allowed to win then Scottish football will be fractured for years to come. There will be a lot of bitterness and disgust shown to those clubs who rail road these half backed rule breaking changes.

“Like most Scottish fans I don’t want to see anyone threatened or bullied but in cases like this other clubs,the SFA, SPL and the SFL’ s Mr Longmuir should be reminded that Celtic FC have a huge fan base who spend a lot of money and attract a lot of revenue into the game and Celtic should use that pressure to make sure the smaller clubs are protected and any corrupters of the game are not allowed to win.

“Tomorrow Sevco will be told they do not have a place in the SPL. The rules are there  and they are simple. They must apply for membership of the SFL and a place in division 3. Anything else is nothing short of corruption.”

Newco-Rangers are already facing the prospect of no European football for three years after the old club were put into liquidation.  A refusal to allow the resurrected Rangers to leapfrog straight into Division One would be a catastrophic blow in terms of finances and the clubs ability to attract top flight players.

It is understood the SKY TV contract is dependent on both Rangers and Celtic being involved in the top flight league and supporters of Rangers-Newco entering Division One argue that the loss to the game in Scotland of TV money would cause major problems throughout Scottish football.

However opponents have challenged this with many suggesting the game may in fact flourish if the stranglehold exerted by the Old Firm is loosened.  Celtic have already stated that their survival is not dependent on games against Rangers.

With league fixtures needing to be settled as the new season approaches, pressure will mount on the smaller clubs to reach agreement on the Newco.