THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

Comments (19)
Comment by MoeTheBarman 2012-05-09 13:12:38

I wonder how Rangers fans feel being seen as nothing more than a cash-cow by the rest of the league?

Comment by markrpoole 2012-05-09 13:17:15

Indeed.

'If you look after the football, the money will follow. If you chase the money, the football will die.'

Any judgement of how to treat any club that is liquidated should be based 100% on justice and consistency, and 0% on pragmatism. If Rangers are liquidated, they should be treated in the same way that Gretna were. Any other club that is liquidated should be treated in the same way. A chance to re-apply to Division 3 and work their way back seems to make sense to a lot of Rangers fans.

Clubs would adjust to their diminished income. The TV deal currently represents 8% of SPL income. Losing Rangers would reduce this, along with sponsorship income and travelling fan gate receipts. It would be a significant change but not the financial armageddon Neil Doncaster says. Ask him how well his Norwich City coped when On Digital blew up? After a couple of years, he said they came out stronger from adversity. Far more worrying is the many fans threatening a boycott if they see Rangers being treated differently from everyone else (except, hypothetically, Celtic).

After all, what's the point in bothering with competition if the league and many of its member clubs deem any of the clubs effectively too big to fail?

(Of course, Rangers being liquidated is still hypothetical; who knows what twists and turns are still to come?)

Comment by Coral 2012-05-09 13:35:43

Seems a waste of time to me though to send Rangers to the Third Division. They will be back coming first or second within 4 years. It also seems a harsh penalty to pay for financial mismanagement. Most teams lose 10 points when they go into administration. Luton were particularly bad and got 35 points taken off. Juventus cheated by really unfair means but only got dropped one league. This proposal is to drop a team 4 leagues. And again, who is it that is punished? The people who got them in this trouble are long gone, it is the fans who are punished. There has to be some punishment but seems a bit disproportionate to me.


Genuine questions, if they are not allowed back into the SPL, could they apply to the English FA for entry?

Comment by Ichabod 2012-05-09 13:39:44

Nonsense that the clubs would die, the escape to the EPL & Atlantic league shows this. It is media propaganda and nothing else that scares chairmen. Integrity is important in business dealings, and none is on show here, least of all from the media. Division 3 or bust is the only way forward for the SPL.

Comment by jertzeeAFCW 2012-05-09 14:09:03

Sorry Coral but I can't stand when people say "It is the fans that get punished".

It's the fans that were happy to cheer when they were cheating their way to winning all those trophies.

Furthermore, if the fans shouldn't be punished because of the acts of someone in the past then it should be no problem removing their trophies that they "won".

Comment by Coral 2012-05-09 14:26:54

But it is a reality jertzeeAFCW. The fans have next to no control over the club and the reality of what was going on within the club had not been made clear so what exactly are they meant to do?

When Rangers get dropped down to the 3rd division who will it be that gets punished? Will it be the fans who have to watch that after the crime of celebrating some wins? Or will it be the various characters who have no attachment to the club anymore?

As for the cheating point, was it cheating? Yes they have bent rules financially, but having more money is not a guarantee of winning. I would class cheating as bribing the ref, mind you they have been accused of that before as well.

Comment by biziclop 2012-05-09 15:03:42

Coral, how is it harsh? Eventually relegating Luton to the fifth tier by shifting the goalposts was harsh, but we're not talking about administration here, we're talking about liquidation.

And liquidation should be exactly that: the club as a business and sporting entity ceases to exist. It has happened with Gretna, it has happened with many English clubs and the answer has always been to expel them from the league and make them start from whichever lower league can accommodate them.

Why should Rangers be any different?

Comment by biziclop 2012-05-09 15:07:50

Furthermore, it might be just me, but I rate stealing tens of millions of pounds from the taxpayer as a slightly more serious offence as bribing a ref.

Sure, ideally the perpetrators should be punished personally, but since football clubs are also companies, by law they have to be treated as such, and not only when it suits them.

Comment by Coral 2012-05-09 15:11:22

The business gets liquidated, that does not mean the fans cease to exist or the notion of what the clubs is and what it stands for ceases.

It should not mean the end of any club, Chester was particularly sad as they went with out so much as a mention in most media outlets.

I just find it all a bit nasty. People baying for the destruction of something. I have helped with Accrington, Darlington and Wrexham of late and would offer the same to Rangers. More should be done to prevent clubs getting into this state, but putting the bullet in the back of the head when they are on their knees to the cheers of the gleeful crowd is not something I want to be part of.

Comment by Ichabod 2012-05-09 15:53:35

Possibly Coral you misunderstand the nature of the OF. Accrington, Darlington & Wrexham had their problems but they do not contain the 'nature' of the OF and in particular the Rangers. Arrogant bullying over a hundred years, paid for by sectarian bigotry which has cost the west coast much in the way of social problems (encouraged also by Celtic of course), cheating Scottish football over many years, influencing referees, the governing bodies and through Masonic ties other parts of the nation do not make these clubs popular. In this instance they have been caught out badly and far too many are covering up for them, other clubs would be condemned and dealt with! It is indeed sad for genuine fans but the majority are not genuine and will disappear overnight as they have done during bad times before.
Be concerned for fans of other clubs, if indeed you are a genuine neutral.

Comment by Mr Beast 2012-05-09 16:09:57

Rangers should face punishment in accordance with whatever sanctions currently exist - no more and no less.

Comment by geobra 2012-05-09 16:43:53

Was there not a time, back in some remote footballing ice age before the Old Firm gained total dominance of Scottish football, when Rangers sometimes drew four figure crowds? Which brings me back to a question I've asked before. How many of those who now fill Ibrox (and maybe Parkhead too) are actually lovers of the game of football?

The current plight of Rangers is in some ways reminiscent of that of Juventus in 2006. In both cases trophies were won partly because other clubs were not allowed to play on a level playing field. And some at Juventus as well as many of their fans still have not grasped the fact that their club was caught with its hands in the till and received a punishment that was, all things considered, relatively light.

Comment by JimDavis 2012-05-09 21:00:48

Maybe instead of starting a Newco, they should just buy Ross County. It shouldn't be that expensive? Transfer all Rangers good assets to Ross County, liquidate Rangers, move Ross County to Glasgow and then Change Ross County's name to RC Rangers, or MK Rangers, or something similar.

Comment by ingoldale 2012-05-09 21:38:15

Grimsby supporter, Hibs fan having lived in Edinburgh for a year and owned a season ticket at Easter Road. Rangers should get same treatment as Gretna should they be liquidated as should Portsmouth be sent to the bottom of the pyramid a la Wimbledon.

It may be 'pointless' because they'll walk the league but there's a big pay day for he rest of Scottish football here too - Divisions 1-3 can look forward to trying to be the team that takes the inevitable Rangers scalp every and the bumper gates hey will bring. SPL teams can look forward to a realistic shot at European qualification and being able to hold on to some of the better Scottish talent for an extra season or two.

Bye bye Gers, bye bye Pompey! See you when you get back...

Comment by multipleman78 2012-05-10 01:55:06

The notion that Rangers have cheated their way to trophies is a bit ridiculous to me. The smaller tax case caused by Craig Whyte using staff tax to run the club instead of paying the tax man happened this season when no trophies were won. The big tax case that has ran through most of last decade where trophies were won is still at tribunal. That is no proof of guilt. People have just decided that tax avoidance is tax evasion. It may be morally wrong but if Rangers win that tribunal then it wasnt illegal.

Through that period of success people have also claimed Rangers won by living outwith their means. Again this is nonsense. Rangers were being run with a debt that was manageable and agreed to by HBOS. If any one us has an account with an overdraft or multi option facility like Murray had then we can work within that as long as the bank are happy. In 2008 the banks went bust and that is when they tightened the screw on Rangers. At this stage Rangers followed suit and by the time Whyte had come in they had reduced their arrears to 18 million.

Does having a club in debt mean that any trophy won in that time is won by cheating? Lets just hand the League Cup won by Kilmarnock this year to Celtic. Dont even bother with the Scottish Cup final cos Hearts are automatically cheats. Oh and while we are at it tell Barcelona their claims to being a great club side are utter balderdash as they are living outwith their means.

Comparing the Old Firm leaving for England or Atlantic League in this situation does not apply. The SPL could survive without the Old Firm but could it survive without one of Rangers or Celtic and that is the difference. Both leaving opens up a competition for the rest. One leaving means a monopoly for the other Glasgow team for how many years? Celtic may eventually have to down size but i think they will have won 15 in a row by the time anyone challenges.

I am a Rangers fan and like the majority of Rangers fans i know we are happy to take the punishment of relegation to division 3. Staying in the SPL as a newco is not something we are pushing for. We know we must be punished for the shambles that Craig Whyte made us. Craig Whyte broke the rules and he was head of our club. A punishment of relegation should follow. If the big tax case goes against us then throw the book at us even more. If we are shown to have used dual contracts then take the titles away but those are ifs. Until and IF those verdicts find us guilty the cheating claims should cease.

Comment by geobra 2012-05-10 08:07:07

Call me naive, but there has never been so much money sloshing around in football as in the last 15-20 years, thanks to sponsorship and TV. An inordinately large amount of it goes to the biggest clubs. So why are so many of them so indebted when in the not so distant past (but after the abolition of the maximum wage) they weren't? If teams like Rangers and Manchester United, not to mention Barcelona and Real Madrid, can't live within their means, who can? But of course they could, if they wanted to, and if they had the guts to reject some of their players' absurd wage demands. And hopefully if FFP becomes a reality, they are going to have to.

In 45 years of work I have never earned anything like £50,000 in a year, and the idea that anyone actually 'needs' that amount of money (and more) per week to live well is absolutely ridiculous.

In the meantime, I have no sympathy for indebted behemoths, because they have brought their problems on themselves by reckless overspending, and they must accept the consequences. In the same way I would have no sympathy for a multi-millionaire who lost everything in the casino.

Comment by FCKarl 2012-05-10 10:15:58

The author of this article wrote, "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."

GOODNESS! IT IS NO WONDER THAT MR. MILLER HAS WITHDRAWN!

My goodness. Have others here seen the vile, hatred laden messages, texts, and emails that were either sent directly to Mr. Miller, Mr. Miller's business, or care of Mr. Miller? What is wrong with Rangers supporters? Too many that are obviously demented. (Yes, I will allow that perhaps some of these messages were coming from "fans?" that do not support Rangers.) It is just hard to have any good sentiments toward Scottish football when there are obviously so many ugly-mouthed, vile-tempered, self-uninformed louts involved. Mr. Miller truly could have helped. He is a proven, strong and very astute businessman. Now the situation is even more bleak.

Word's already gotten 'round about this. And Scottish football and Scottish fans earned a black eye.

Comment by trickydicky 2012-05-10 11:01:45

2 things seem to be getting comepletely lost/forgotten when considering the financial 'implications' of Rangers being hoofed into Divison 3:
1. All the clubs in Divisions 3, 2 and 1 will get a year of increased revenue. Granted, its unlikely the SPL chairman will give a shiny one about that, but some people should.
2. Other SPL clubs have an increased chance of getting involved in European competition for 3 years, which would give increased revenue. Hell, somebody might even sneak into the Champions League Group Stage in that time. Surely, surely somebody from Scotland can make it to the UEFA Cup Group Stage? In the last couple of years teams from Belarus, Moldova and Georgia have, it shouldn't be beyond the wherewithall of Hearts, Motherwell and whoever else.

Comment by Coral 2012-05-12 23:29:48

Bye bye Gers, bye bye Pompey! See you when you get back...

I can almost see your sneer Ingoldale, it's what football needs more of :)

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