9 May ~ An ominous cloud hangs over Scottish football at present. Rangers are in administration, with draconian sanctions imminent. Bill Miller, an American businessman, was named by the administrators as the preferred bidder to take over the ailing club, but promptly withdrew his offer. Whoever takes over will surely attempt to implement the plan proposed by Miller. The blueprint for Rangers' survival, it seems, is to transfer the assets of the current company to a "newco" so the "oldco" can be liquidated, potentially allowing the club to carry on with minimal penalties, while the taxpayer is screwed out of millions.
Most observers agree that any new club should begin life in Division Three. Most realistically, however, is that a new Rangers would remain in the top tier so long as the SPL chairmen vote in favour – a likely circumstance that has infuriated many football fans in Scotland.
Professional football is a business primarily, but the integrity of the league is under threat with these proposals for a new Rangers. The Kilmarnock chairman, Michael Johnston, said: "There is a feeling that member clubs see the commercial benefits of having Rangers in the SPL, even if it is a newco. Member clubs are mindful of a sporting integrity aspect but the commercial benefits outweigh that."
With this in mind, if a new Rangers is formed and voted straight back into the SPL, the commercial benefits from their large away support are obvious, but the repercussions could be severe. It is, as Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson puts it, "a lose-lose situation" for non-Old Firm clubs, who will either feel the adverse financial effects of a league and accompanying TV deal without Rangers, or the stultifying effect of a significant number of their own fans promising to boycott games in protest at their inclusion. No one can envy the position of club chairmen tasked with voting on such an issue.
Dunfermline, in particular, have every reason to feel peeved at the latest turn of events. Bottom of the SPL for most of the season, before finally succumbing to relegation with a 4-0 defeat away to Hibs, they will play in Division One next season. This despite having existed within their means and paid their creditors on time throughout the current campaign.
There is a school of thought that the SPL cannot survive without either half of the Old Firm, despite being advised to the contrary as recently as 2008 when an Atlantic League including both Celtic and Rangers was being considered.
Plans to try and effect a move to the English leagues have been met with derision from all sides, with many still adamant that should the remote opportunity arise, the Old Firm would leave Scottish football in a heartbeat, despite current protestations that the SPL needs them to survive.
Scottish football as we know it has changed irrevocably. Over the coming weeks and months, the SPL threatens to become even more of a laughing stock than it is at the moment. These are tense times to be a football fan in Scotland, and there is no happy ending in sight. Colin Thomson