The hierarchies within have been unable to find solutions to the multiple difficulties which the plight of Rangers has thrown up. The need to respect sporting integrity while safeguarding the future of the sport financially has proven an insurmountable challenge to those in charge. Consequently, a disrupted or delayed start to the new footballing season cannot be ruled out.
The uncertainty over future turnover at clubs has inhibited their ability to plan financially and allot funds for transfer fees and wages, which has produced a relatively quiet transfer window thus far. Some clubs have tentatively begun to build their squads for next season while others have had to enforce transfer embargos until the situation is given clarity. The longer the situation is delayed the greater the chance that clubs will be forced to rush through a flurry of late deals, leaving little time for players to settle into their prospective new squads before the season kicks off. Moreover, the pool of available players may be drained as they sign for clubs in England’s lower leagues and abroad as the window progresses.
The fan-led takeover at St. Mirren has also been put on ice until the financial future for clubs can be seen with a degree of certainty.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has revealed that he does not believe the uncertainty caused by weeks of indecision and an absence of contingency plans for the situation will affect his budget for next season. However, the SPL champions are better placed to negate the uncertainty than other clubs due to their steady income gained through ticket sales, commercial contracts, and financial reward for participation in European competition.
Dunfermline and Dundee, the two clubs vying to occupy the place vacated by Rangers in the SPL, have been left unsure as to whether to plan to compete in the First Division or SPL next season. Pars manager Jim Jeffries has admitted that his initial plans this summer were to bring through youth players for the First Division campaign; however, the former Hearts manager would be looking to sign some older players with experience should they be playing in the SPL again. The battle for the place in the SPL may yet be taken to the courts, which will further elongate the uncertainty.
The backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the newco itself has forced ‘Rangers’ players to pursue other avenues for their careers. Steven Naismith, who has signed for Everton since refusing to transfer his contract over to the newco, cited the uncertainty as a catalyst behind his decision to depart from Ibrox. Other big name players have also sought secure employment elsewhere, leaving manager Ally McCoist with a skeleton squad of players returning for pre-season training last week.
Plans should have been made for all possible outcomes when Rangers first entered into administration. Moreover, the situation is not unprecedented in Scotland and those in the offices of power have failed to heed lessons from the past. The indecision and lack of viable solutions put forward by Scottish football’s governing bodies is evidence of their negligence and this has been to the detriment of all of Scotland’s professional clubs, as well as the image of the Scottish game worldwide.
Bold, informed, and prudent decisions are required in order to ensure Scottish football steps back from the precipice of a crippling era of ignominy. Thus far, those charged with making these decisions have lacked the vision and aptitude to perform their role satisfactorily.
This trend must be arrested in order to ensure that clubs are able to prepare for next season and a clear future is put forward to all of those with a stake in the game in Scotland. A quick resolution is also required in order to re-engage those supporters who have grown disillusioned and fatigued due to the protracted crisis.
Written by Steven Ballantyne