By Bob Duncan
Charles Green’s Newco Rangers will play in the Scottish Football League (SFL) next season, but will enter the Third Division, following a vote of SFL chairmen.
SFL chief David Longmuir revealed that 29 of the 30 clubs in the lower leagues voted in favour of admitting the newco club into the SFL as a whole, while 25 voted for them to go into Division Three.
Following the meeting, he said: “This has been a very important day for Scottish football. The member clubs have voted to willingly accept Rangers into the SFL. The only acceptable position was to accept the newco in Division Three from the start of 2012/2013.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make for all concerned. We are comfortable that the decision has been made with fairness and integrity in mind. We want to see better governance and better distribution of funds in the game.”
“This decision followed a tried-and-tested process and was taken in cognisance with the other options which were available for consideration. 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 Scottish Football League.
“The Scottish Football League has been entirely consistent with our willingness to work with other bodies to ensure that we focus on rebuilding our game, restoring pride in our game and exploring revenue streams and our willingness to achieve these aims does not alter.”
A statement on the official Rangers website said discussions over forming a breakaway SPL2 were still ongoing. The statement read: “It was mooted last week that plans for an SPL2 would swing into action in the event of today’s outcome but it is not known if this will be the case.”
However, Livingston chairman Gordon McDougall does not believe such a breakaway will happen. “I don’t think there is any chance of that” he said, “We all want a 42-club solution to this situation with all 42 clubs working together for football but I have no idea what is likely to happen.
“We have made a decision. I sincerely hope the decision is respected and we go forward with Rangers in the Third Division. Ally McCoist and Charles Green were adamant that they would respect our decision.”
Asked if he was surprised by the 25-5 vote he said: “Not after discussions took place. If you had asked me last night I would not have come to that figure.”Discussions went well, we listened to everything that was said and we are quite happy.”
In a prepared statement read to the gathered media, David Longmuir said: “”Something I would like to say very clearly today is that he First Division clubs in particular made it very clear to us that they are looking for an all 42-club solution to Scottish football’s restructuring issue – that was a very clear direction of the will of all SFL clubs.”
While the meeting of chairmen was underway, Charles Green had called for “common sense to prevail” so all the clubs involved can start to put the whole situation behind them. “It is a very important day and I think there is lots of good, really responsible articles put out in the press today,” he said.
“I think it is time now for realisation. I think the vilification and persecution has to end and common sense has to prevail and I think it will.
“I think it is very difficult for the other clubs and the other leagues, and for the managers to understand who they are going to be playing and when their season will start and who their opposition will be. There are cup games in a few weeks’ time and we all need to move on.”
Following the vote, he continued: “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.
“Rangers has been handed the ultimate punishment of starting again from the bottom of the leagues, but there is an overwhelming feeling among fans and within the club of ‘wiping the slate clean’ as a club free of sanctions.
“The people who brought shame on this great club are no longer part of it and everyone at Rangers is focused on rebuilding the club on top of a solid financial foundation.
“We wish to play a constructive part in Division Three and encourage our fans to support the other clubs within the league by attending matches and delivering to them the benefits of having Rangers within their league.
“It is a matter of regret for all of us involved with Rangers that the issues surrounding the club resulted in the SFL and its members being placed in a very difficult position, not of their own making.”
Rangers manager Ally McCoist said: “I fully accept the decision of the SFL today and thank them for allowing us into the SFL. Clearly, starting again from the bottom league is not ideal and makes the task of rebuilding Rangers a longer one but the SFL was placed in an impossible situation and I respect its decision.
“I fully supported the fans views that starting again in Division 3 maintains the sporting integrity that the SPL clubs were so keen on. The SPL clubs and the SFA have made their positions clear over the last few weeks and it remains to be seen what the long-term effects of their decisions will be.
“Rangers has been severely punished for the actions of some individuals who previously ran the club and it will take time for us to recover but we will come back stronger thanks to the loyalty of the fans and the commitment of everyone at Ibrox who are working tirelessly to bring stability and success back to Rangers.
“I will be carefully monitoring events and reactions over the new few days and will be making further comments probably early next week.”
Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston said: “We’ll have to see what develops on Monday and I’m not sure it’s over yet. I’m sure there’ll be a twist in the tale, and that will come out on Monday when the SPL meet”