By Bob Duncan
Newco Rangers chief executive Charles Green has complained that bigotry was one of the motives for punishing the new Ibrox club for the misdemeanours of the old one.
The Rangers’ owner was speaking as his new club played its first match as an SFA member in the Ramsdens Cup against Brechin City and was highly critical of the decision to deny the club a place in the top flight.
“My frustration’s been, after 30 years of business, I have never experienced anything like the last three months,” he said. Some of it has been driven by bigotry, some of its been driven by jealousy and some of its been driven by all the wrong motives”.
Rangers went into administration last season and Green’s Sevco consortium created a new company, Sevco Scotland, after failing to prevent the old one being liquidated. The former Sheffield United chief bought the assets of Rangers for £5.5m in June in the expectation that Sevco Scotland would be invited to join the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Scottish Premier League clubs voted against accepting the new club into the top flight. No SPL clubs had supported Sevco’s application, with Kilmarnock abstaining and the others voting against.
Sevco forced to apply to the SFL where, despite the support of Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster, the clubs voted by 25-5 against placing Sevco in the First Division, but allowed them immediate entry to the Division Three.
Then the Scottish Football Association said Rangers would only be given membership if they accepted sanctions for unpaid football debts by the oldco.
The 54-time Scottish champions have also been banned from European competition for three years and lost many of their best players.
Green’s consortium accepted all of the above, but issues relating to media rights and oldco EPAs held up the process to such an extent that only a conditional membership was given to allow them to face Brechin while more negotiations take place.
Speaking just before Sunday’s fixture, Green said: “Some of the business decisions that have been made really have been nonsensical from a business point of view. One of the meetings I went to, one of the reasons why SPL chairmen were under pressure to do something with Rangers was they wouldn’t buy season tickets until Rangers were thrown out of the league.”
Asked to expand on what he meant by bigotry, Green complained that fans of other clubs had pressurised directors to deny top flight membership to newco Rangers by refusing to buy season tickets.
“We’ve got a position whereby Rangers were thrown out of the league and these clubs are still appealing with fans to buy season tickets,” he said.
“What’s happened with Rangers, as an outsider looking in, although I am now an insider, is absolutely incredible where it seems to me the whole of Scotland have wanted to kick this giant club while it was down.
“I think justice has been done. The club were fined 10 points, it received an £190,000 fine, it was then put out the SPL, it was then put down to the Third Division, it has had to pay all the Scottish club debts, which wouldn’t normally happen for a newco to be obliged to pay oldco’s debts.
“We’re also now paying European debts and there is still potential cloud hanging over the club from the SPL over EBT issues.
“I had meetings last week with some Uefa officials who say this is unprecedented in Europe.”
Responding to the possibility of Rangers being stripped of previously won titles, Green said: “Sevco will defend that position to the full.”
He added: “What the majority of fans believe, in Scotland, is that Rangers may have won titles when they had a team on the field that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to pay. My knowledge of footballers is that, if you don’t pay them what you’d agreed, they leave.”
The SFA have yet to make a response to Mr Green’s Remarks. However, given recent sensitivities over sectarianism in Scottish football, those in charge are likely to take a dim view of a Director of a new league member making allegations of this nature.
Sunday’s first outing for the newco also witnessed pockets of Rangers fans indulge in chanting that many will have considered inappropriate and if allowed to continue may see Green’s new club, who have yet to be granted full SFA membership, facing more sanctions.
On Friday, following a long and tortuous meeting which allowed Rangers newco a temporary licence to play SFA fixtures, Rangers manager Ally McCoist criticised the Scottish Premier League for pursuing “as hostile an agenda as possible” towards the club, adding “Rangers have not been punished enough in their eyes”.
In a lengthy statement, McCoist described the recent uncertainty over Rangers’ status as “a ludicrous situation”.
“No one is denying that Rangers were badly mismanaged for 10 months,” said McCoist. “Nor are we disputing that we should be punished for that. We have been. We accept that punishment and want to start putting the past behind us and move forward.
“But that is not being allowed to happen – and I have to ask myself why?
“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.
He added, “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.”
New Rangers won their first match since being demoted to the fourth tier of Scottish football, beating Brechin 2-1 on Sunday in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup after a Lee McCulloch extra time goal.
The new club is expected to be granted full SFA membership this Friday, with the oldco’s SPL membership passing to Dundee.