The newco will instead apply for a place in the Scottish Football League – in either the First or Third Division. The clubs’ decisions have been informed by the opinion emanating from their supporters. Now, it is time for those supporters to show their support financially in order to ensure a salubrious future for their clubs and Scottish football in general.
According to projections made by the Edinburgh Evening News, Hibs could lose around £250, 000 in revenues next season as a result of the imminent ‘no’ vote. Other clubs are likely to suffer considerably steeper losses. A report in The Scotsman places Hearts’ potential losses at £500, 000 and those of Dundee United at £600, 000; Motherwell – whose vote will be informed by a ballot of ‘Well Society members – could suffer losses in excess of £700, 000.
Participation in the Group Stage of the Champions League next season would negate the immediate financial impact of Rangers’ omission for their Old Firm rivals, Celtic; however, the long-term effects, in terms of competition as well as finance, could be far more serious.
With such a negative financial impact it appears self-destructive for clubs to take the fratricidal decision to vote ‘no’. However, the strength of opinion among fans over the situation has forced clubs to take their preferences into consideration. Those fans – in line with the majority throughout Scotland – believe that Rangers must face reprisal for bringing Scottish football into disrepute. And although official statements may peddle the notion of sporting integrity as the premise of their decision, the truth is that the clubs had no option but to acquiesce to the demands of their supporters.
It is difficult to believe that all six ‘no’ vote clubs would have taken the decision purely on the basis of sporting scruples. The threat from fans not to renew season tickets and to boycott SPL games next season presented as grave a threat to the clubs’ financial security as the absence of Rangers does and this is primarily what forced directors to listen to supporters.
Motherwell’s limbo is a result of the quagmire which the crisis has placed clubs in. Motherwell – who will suffer more severely than most as a result of a ‘no’ vote – could, according to the club’s directors, fall into administration without the revenue Rangers bring to the club. The precarious possibilities and uncertainty facing Motherwell illustrates the wide-spread consequences of the crisis.
The Kilmarnock chairman, Michael Johnston, has implied that financial security for his club might perhaps supersede sporting integrity – although this is now academic as a ‘yes’ vote from Killie would be in the minority come July 4th – the day on which
the official vote will take place. The initial sense of Schadenfreude felt by many non-Rangers fans is being kicked into the grass by the bleak realities of the situation.
Clubs are relying on their supporters to help them absorb the financial losses which Rangers’ absence will cause. Michael Johnston has claimed that Kilmarnock would need an increase of 1000 season ticket holders for the new season in order to compensate for their impending losses; Sales have increased by five per cent upon this time last year and it must be hoped that the trend continues upward for the Ayrshire club.
Now that their clubs have answered their demands, supporters must back their clubs financially throughout the coming seasons to obviate the risk of more of Scotland’s top clubs experiencing the fate of Livingston, Gretna, and Rangers.
Written by Steven Ballantyne