By Bob Duncan
Charles Green’s newco Rangers have been granted a conditional Scottish FA membership.
At almost literally the eleventh hour, Sevco Scotland Limited has been granted a temporary authorisation to play in the new outfit’s first fixture this Sunday’s at Glebe park.
The Rangers Football Club have been given permission to begin life at Brechin City on Sunday in the Ramsdens Cup and, according to reports, will have full SFA membership by the end of next week.
Manager Ally McCoist is pushing ahead with plans for the new season and the club tonight confirmed that former Hearts and Scotland striker Kevin Kyle, a free agent after being released from his contract at Tynecastle last March, had trained at Murray Park.
However, the new club will bear all of the football debts and 12-month transfer ban imposed on the old Rangers FC, while an SPL investigation into the old club’s use of Employee Benefit Schemes remains ongoing.
Owner Charles Green has insisted he will fight for all of Rangers titles if they are threatened by an SPL probe and also took a swipe at Rangers former SPL rivals Celtic, claiming the Parkhead outfit had a more complicated business history.
He said: “HMRC has still to reach a decision or announce their decision. I understand the SPL has put a panel together to look at this issue and we will contest it every inch of the way. The view of the club, the fans and indeed newcomers like myself is that those titles and those games were won fairly and belong to this club. We will fight it to the finish.”
Speaking tonight to RangersTV he said: “There has been an enormous amount of hours put in by all the team – Ally, Andrew Dickson, the board and myself – and there have been numerous meetings.
“To get to the point where we can finally go out and play a game on Sunday it’s an enormous relief and it’s really where the club and its fans want to be. We have had to come to an agreement on a signing ban and the manager reluctantly agreed to that.
“If we had come to the table with a clean piece of paper then we wouldn’t have signed up to the agreement but the realities are there have been historical misdemeanours and this is the price we have paid. We were on the outside trying to get membership of the SFA and they set the rules and the regulations.
“I’m interested to see how things will be applied in the future because this is not the end of the problems for Scottish football. It’s the end of the problems for Rangers but it will be the beginning for many other clubs.
“I think it will hugely difficult for Scottish clubs. We signed up to the TV deal because we don’t want to be held responsible for the downfall of Scottish football but someone is responsible for the demise.
“There is no doubt Scottish football has been going downhill and if you look back in history as I can as a non-conflicted outsider, to 14 years ago when the SPL was formed and since that time Scotland hasn’t qualified for a major competition. Incomes have not grown and there really has to be a look at where Scotland as football business is going.”
On their official media site, Rangers have tonight said: “Finally, eventually, at long last, we’ve been granted our SFA membership and can now start focusing on what Rangers do best – playing football. The cascade of relief felt across the west of Scotland (save a few embittered pockets) and wider still could almost be heard when the news broke that we are to start playing football again.
“Rangers may be down in Division Three, but we are not out – indeed the opposite, we are now officially in the SFL’s admirable league system, subject to the club transferring its SPL share to Dundee FC by Friday 3rd August. Today is the day we start the climb back to the top tier and adding to our world record tally of 115 trophies.
“In exchange for the membership transfer, the club have had to accept a registration ban on new players that starts on the 1st of September, alongside a host of other as yet undisclosed sanctions. Furthermore, the SPL have reserved their position on the EBT investigation (Green wanted the investigation dropped totally), but, crucially, the club have the right to appeal any verdicts or punishments that occur as a result (Doncaster wanted no such potential appeal).”
Despite the agreement, manager Ally McCoist was damning in his appraisal of the SFA’s handling of the situation: “In recent days, I have been in a number of meetings with Stewart Regan, Rod Petrie and other senior SFA figures – and despair at the lack of leadership shown.
“In my years in professional football, I have not always agreed with everything the SFA did or said. But, no matter what you thought of their decisions, there was no doubt they ran the game firmly and robustly.
“As for the SPL, they seem determined to pursue as hostile an agenda as possible towards Rangers. They kicked us out of the SPL – which was their right – and we acknowledge that – but that doesn’t seem enough for Neil Doncaster and some of his board.
“Not only as they withholding our SPL prize money for last season – they won’t tell us how much it is but we reckon it to be about £1.3million. And having said they don’t want us – they do want a bigger share of the TV money that our presence will bring to the SFL and its clubs. Never mind sporting integrity – where is the moral integrity there?
“And there is no line to be drawn in the sand. Rangers have not been punished enough in their eyes and along with one or two people who have a vested interest within SPL clubs, our right to past titles will be challenged. They want what we and our fans bring, yet seem determined to strip us of every bit of our dignity. It has to stop.”
“Sadly, only one Scottish football body has offered us any help or assistance – the SFL. I would like to thank David Longmuir, Jim Ballantyne and 29 of their 30 member clubs for inviting us into the SFL. We are grateful for the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, SFA Chief Stewart Regan, said: “This has been a difficult period for Scottish football, but with this agreement now in place, and with the new season upon us, it is essential that we all focus our energies on football once again. In the months ahead, the Scottish FA will resume discussions on the subject of league reconstruction.
“We remain committed to this process in order to re-energise the national game and will work closely with the SPL, SFL and all other relevant affiliated bodies to provide a dynamic product appealing to our supporters.”
Green also insists that those who cannot bring themselves to call the club Rangers should realise the error of their ways. He said: “I think everyone knows that it’s Rangers that are playing at Ibrox whether its owned by company A or company B.
In a thinly disguised dig at Glasgow Celtic, Green suggested Rangers former SPL rivals had experienced a far more troublesome business existence than the Ibrox club.
“Our main rivals – or our former main rivals – across the city they have had three different companies in their lifespan. In fact if you look at their corporate structure now it’s more complicated than Rangers’ is.” he said.
“So it’s not about an individual or a corporate company with a registration number. This is Rangers and will always be Rangers.”