Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The SPL's Rangers Conundrum

Glasgow Rangers last week were duly liquidated ending 139 years of history. The almost inexhaustible list of misdemeanours make it hard for anyone to feel any regret over the foreclosure but all fans would empathise with the death of the club that they support.

Were Rangers to play in any normal country or league, the reality would be simple, that of having to start again in much the same way that Fiorentina did relatively recently. Being that Rangers play in Scotland the situation becomes vastly more complicated however.

Having listened to the views of the majority of fans in Scotland, there is little doubt that popular sentiment is for Rangers to begin again at the bottom, this is of course how it should be. For Rangers' future integrity also this would be the better option with the three season hiatus allowing them to get their affairs at the same time wholly in order rather than what suspects will happen, an utter fudge.

Charles Green of course does not want this to happen, he after all has acquired the assets of the old Rangers under his 'newco' and the quickest way to start generating revenue is through playing in the SPL. Rangers' wishes however should be irrelevant in much the same way that a convicted bank robber doesn't wish to go to jail, too bad.

Given the weight of evidence against Rangers, the fact that they are a new establishment (therefore without any rights) and given the broader wishes of Scottish football supporters, there should be only one outcome, that of being consigned to the bottom of the pile. As mentioned earlier however Scotland is not a normal footballing nation.

Rangers and Celtic have with brief periods of respite dominated Scottish football both off and on the pitch since their inception. Their wishes have usually prevailed and the income that the two clubs generate are oft seen as the lifeblood of the game - the reality is they take far more than they give - and the remaining SPL clubs appear terrified at the prospect of losing one of them.

The Sky TV deal with the SPL is one of the main reasons for this. Definitive information is hard to come by but it is mooted or believed that the deal is dependant on both Rangers and Celtic playing in the division. Most Scottish professional clubs are in dire financial peril and the prospect of losing what little television money there is to go around has the clubs gripped by fear.

The majority of SPL chairman have said little on how they intend to vote, especially when their supporters' groups have been so vocal. Michael Johnston the Kilmarnock chairman has however voiced an opinion that Rangers have been punished enough, but this flies completely in the face of the fans he is bound to represent.

For Celtic, it is possibly the biggest and toughest decision. They have stressed that they do not require Rangers to survive but no one could honestly suggest that Celtic will require the squad they do and a 60,000 seat stadium to win the SPL without their only true rivals, and there is the rub.

The SPL clubs should without any shadow of a doubt vote for Rangers to be excluded from the SPL given their flagrant breaching of the rules and their resulting insolvency. The powers that be in Scottish football however rarely act with much integrity and with self interest always coming to the fore.

The vote on the 4th of July is a chance for a real fresh start in Scotland with the potential for a much more level and competitive league - there are still a raft of other problems granted - and a chance to rebuild the product at the most basic of levels.

Sky TV money will come and go but the true lifeblood of the SPL clubs comes from the communities that they reside in. Season ticket sales - already dreadful - are almost non existent so far this year given the UK's finances and also and more importantly the fans' view of the readmission of Rangers. The SPL chairman however are prone to chasing the fast buck and it is therefore hard to know which way the vote will go.

There has been talk of readmission coupled with reduced revenues for Rangers and points deductions etc but these are simply inappropriate and would still in all reality probably lead to Rangers finishing runners' up for the next three seasons. The wishes of Scottish football fans should be heard, it is time for a fresh start and not just for Rangers - No Nonsense.