Newco protectionism must be avoided


Legal precedence has apparently been set with Livingston. How much more shame should the regime over at Hampden bring on Scottish football by allowing this blatant protectionism? Clubs in Scotland have grown fat on the meat of Rangers and Celtic’s commercial size, it’s about time that they went on a diet and cut their cloth to suit their real budgets. I can only imagine that Livingston’s legal advisors would be sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to lodge a case against the decision.

Without Rangers, the SPL is meaningless. It’s time it was rebranded the CPL – Celtic Premier League – because, guess what, they are the only club that is going to win it. Nobody else, as shown by decades of results, can come close. As a league, the SPL is effectively as dead as Rangers.

The other 11 clubs will compete fiercely for the second European slot, some will argue. How long will that last for? No other team outside of the Old Firm that has slipped into European competition over the recent years has proven themselves adept at playing in such an edified atmosphere. In fact, it’s generally been embarrassing.

You can, with a degree of confidence, therefore expect Scotland’s co-efficient to fall in European terms, and maybe there won’t even be a European spot for anyone other than the winners? And who are they going to be? Celtic.

Commercially, Celtic will probably continue at a high level due to their fan base, but will potentially fail to attract big name players. Scott Brown alluded to this when he spoke about one of his reasons for joining Celtic was to play against Rangers. The Old Firm derby is world-renowned, so are top class players going to want to come to Parkhead to play Dundee, Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle for lower wages than they can get in the Championship?

Why would any self-respecting Third Division club vote for anything other than Rangers joining their league? Rangers travelling support, however diminished by Third Division status, is still probably more than most Third Division clubs get from any other fixture. Motherwell and Kilmarnock have both estimated the loss of a Rangers home game to be about £250,000. Their loss will be the Third, Second and First Division’s gain over the next three years, assuming Rangers retain a squad capable of back to back wins.

Why on earth would anyone want to avoid such a fair redistribution of income?

Quite frankly, offering £1 million for the First Division TV rights to Rangers games is derisory compared to the benefits that can be spread throughout Scotland over the next few years by resigning Rangers to the Third Division.

It’s not just about TV, Mr Doncaster. Perhaps your personal bonuses may be at risk if the deal is lost, but the bonus to Scotland of Rangers admission to the Third Division is massive. Think about this.

Small towns across Scotland will see commercial benefits from having faithful, loyal, Rangers support turn up in their hundreds, if not thousands. Corporate hospitality at smaller grounds will potentially increase. Local chip shops will see the benefits from the travelling Rangers support. The arrival of the boys in blue will re-ignite the fans of local clubs to turn up to their games. Even a small proportion of those fans staying as active supporters once Rangers get promoted is a huge win for Scottish football. Fans through turnstiles is what makes a strong football business. Take note, Mr Green!!!

Restructuring, without allowing Rangers into Division One as the price, is a great idea. Fans have spoken about it for years, the SFA want it to happen, but only the greed of the corporate cowards in SPL boardrooms has prevented it from happening. However, the majority of people want to see more teams in the SPL, and it will still be a meaningless league if Celtic remain there and there is no fair distribution of non-turnstile revenues. Celtic and Rangers were wrong in their belief that they bring more to the table. It’s the league that brings everything to the table.

The league cannot exist without a full complement of teams playing each other. To penalise smaller members simply because of their size is criminal. A fair distribution would be equal shares. Certainly Celtic and Rangers would still have more income because of the number of fans, but this small increase in budgets would see other clubs become more competitive over time and, hopefully, increase their fan base accordingly. Fans will come when they genuinely feel that their team has a chance of winning some games. The perfect example of this, ironically, is Rangers. Their attendances pre-Souness were poor, and then look what happened.

I don’t think that we need to sit around and watch the press mangle these restructuring ideas for weeks, if not months. I sincerely hope that the clubs in the SFL roundly reject any such proposal on the grounds that it’s frankly ludicrous.

Rangers are dead, or close to it, and it’s their duty to return to the bottom and start again. There is no other fair, reasonable, moral, decent, or honourable thing to do. I’d venture that most Rangers fans would agree.

Written by Colin D. Young


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