Rangers facing just one year out of top flight as Division One ‘parachute plan’ revealed

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By Bob Duncan
 
Plans are being finalised by the Scottish football authorities which could see the Rangers newco begin the new season in Division 1, despite huge opposition from rival fans.
 
Charles Green’s newco, having failed to gain sufficient support within the Premier League to be accepted as “Club-12”, may be ‘parachuted’ into the First Division from the start of next season.

If the other clubs in the league do not accept these proposals, Green could face the prospect of re-launching the club in the Third Division.

Other plans under consideration include the SPL and Scottish Football League bodies merging into a new organisation called ‘The Scottish Professional Football League’ in 12 months’ time.

SFL chief executive David Longmuir said in a statement: “The Scottish Football League, for the last number of days has been involved in intensive discussions with the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football Association and other crucial stakeholders in our game, to try and address, in a positive way, the current critical issues affecting our game.
 
“The Scottish Football League will today send a briefing document to its member clubs – a logical and positive communication which will hopefully eliminate some of the understandable doubt, threats and insecurities that are apparent within the game at the moment.”

According to a BBC Scotland report, the main points of the proposal documentation are:

  • Play-offs between the top two divisions will be introduced in time for the coming season with one team from the top flight and three from the second tier competing for a place in the following season’s SPL
  • An increase in the parachute payments made to clubs relegated from the SPL
  • An additional £3 million for clubs in the top two tiers with teams in the lower leagues earning a similar amount to the current set-up
  • A new pyramid system will become effective from season 2014-15 that will allow a potential place in the new league format for a team from either the Highland league or newly-created ‘Lowland League’

And the proposals for Rangers in particular are:

Rangers are to be relegated with immediate effect and replaced in the SPL by Dundee. 

  • Television rights for Rangers matches in Scottish Football League Division One are to be bought by the SPL for £1m
  • Rangers newco’s acceptance into the Scottish FA would only be approved if they accept responsibility for the football debts and fines incurred by the previous club along with their waiving of rights to a legal challenge.
  • The SPL and SFL will merge into one body at the start of season 2013-14

All of these changes have to be approved by SPL and SFL clubs over the next few days.  The plans require the support of eight SPL clubs and a simple majority of SFL clubs to be passed.

The Scottish Football League have said publicly that they have not reached an agreement with any other footballing body over newco Rangers playing in the Irn-Bru First Division.

Additionally, the SPL have warned they may form a breakaway second tier if plans to put Rangers in the First Division are not approved by clubs.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne has stated his opposition to the prospect of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League striking a deal that would allow newco Rangers to play in the First Division.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Milne insisted that the new club should abide by the same rules as any other seeking to join the league: 

“Rangers Newco should apply to the SFA for admission and apply direct to the SFL in the same way that any other new club would do.

“This is and remains our clubs absolute position.” he said.

The consortium behind newco Rangers claim it has “no intention” of selling the club.  Sevco Scotland Ltd chairman Malcolm Murray stated that the purchase of the Ibrox club’s assets was part of a “long-term” strategy.

In a statement released on the official Rangers website on Thursday, Mr Murray also named further backers of the consortium, which purchased the club’s assets and transferred them to a new company in a £5.5m deal.

He said that the group had “working capital in place for the foreseeable future.  Staff and players were paid this month as normal and will continue to be while the Club operates and functions normally.”

Meanwhile, at least 10 players have objected to the transfer of their contracts to the new company.  Only 13 players reported for the first day of pre-season training at Rangers’ Murray Park training ground on Thursday morning. 

However, three of those players are out of contract and their future is unclear under Green’s newco club.  Free agents Andrew Mitchell, Salim Kerkar and Chris Hegarty – whose contracts expired at the end of the season – also reported for fitness tests but their immediate future remains unclear.