Since my original article Rangers – No case for defence only one of these has occurred. The original Rangers have indeed ceased to exist via liquidation and assets have been transferred into a newco. The logical course of action was for the newco to apply for entry to the Scottish Third Division and work their way up like all clubs and businesses have to when they start out. However this is Scotland, things are simply not allowed to work that way. Not where Rangers are concerned.
In the run up to Rangers demise we were treated to what seemed like an organised campaign – from those within Ibrox and sections of the mainstream media – to secure that a Newco would be allowed straight into the SPL. Tall tales about how “Scottish football will die” and “4 or 5 other clubs will liquidate immediately” were the order of the day. Pundits on the outdated asylums of the ill-informed and the deranged, the radio football phone-ins, force-fed the Rangers PR agenda down the warbling throats of their listeners. The more unashamed of RFC propagandists even went as far as saying that not only did we need “Rangers in the SPL” but that Scottish football actually needed a “STRONG” Rangers to survive. How a strong Rangers is good for Scottish football has still yet to be explained in any coherent fashion.
The media and the Rangers PR assault was to be put to the test soon enough. On June 14th 2012 Rangers failed with their hopeful – in reality hopeLESS – CVA proposal and began their liquidation. Sevco5088 took ownership of the assets and the old Rangers perished. The news sent shockwaves around the UK. Rangers fans cried on national TV, journalists began preaching about the oncoming armageddon that awaited us all and non-Rangers fans the length and breadth of Scotland began a hardy celebration at the demise of what the majority viewed as a big cheating bully finally getting it’s just desserts. Almost immediately the old Rangers guard and the media gathered themselves and got back to their campaign to have the newco admitted to the SPL immediately.
The days following the rejection of the CVA saw a temporary derailment of the “where for Newco?” question and had everything ranging from the tragic to the utterly ridiculous. From the media’s refusal to acknowledge that it was the start of a new club we had to witness the ill-fated crusade by Walter “did you have an EBT?” Smith and his band of less-than-merry investors to “save Rangers!”. Their crusading galleon of hope hit the rocks when they got their first look at the books and the realisation that despite what the media and Rangers fans say, on paper and by law this is an entirely new company and this was too much for Walter to bear. The circus was – and still is – well and truly in town. Mr Custard would be proud of the show that Scottish football has put on.
With Walter, the last hope of the Rangers minded, turning tail and walking away. The collective consciousness shifted its focus back onto “where for the Newco?”. The scare-mongering from the media returned. The bullying and aggressive discourse from the Rangers fans and ex-Rangers players returned. Business as usual. The non-Rangers fans of this country were bombarded with a mind assault of inaccurate half-truths and skewed mythology. They were told that the newco IS Rangers and that without Rangers the SPL and all of Scottish football will die. They were told that their clubs and their divisions would collapse and that short-term profit, the protection of our failed business model and the protection of a sky deal – which most of the fans detest anyway – was more important than the base-level integrity of the SPORT. A sport that the fans have spent decades contributing their hard-earned money to. Did the media and the Rangers family REALLY think these fans would scare that easy?
One by one, supporters groups of non-Old Firm clubs in the SPL began to take polls at their supporters clubs and on their internet fan forums, and one by one the same result kept coming back……NO. The fans of the other clubs made their opinion known and let their chairmen know that the fans would accept a financial hit and a downsizing of our league to protect the basic integrity of our game. The fans have spoken. These are men and woman who will follow their clubs whether they are playing in a Europa League qualifier or down at the local five-a-sides. So the fans spoke and it was a resounding NO to the newco in the SPL.
Life in the Third Division beckoned. But once again, this is Scotland. Pretty soon after it became obvious that the newco would stand absolutely no chance of entering the SPL a new “compromise” began to be suggested. A down-market, struggling tabloid whose sports editor has a close-relationship with the old Rangers, broke the half-baked story and suddenly the new path for the newco was that they would jump 2 divisions and be admitted to the Scottish First division. Suddenly, a league that has been operating just fine without Rangers presence….would completely melt-down if a newco was not allowed to enter immediately. Needless to say…..this didn’t go down too well with the first division club’s fans and looks set to be kicked into touch with as much aggressive vigour as the SPL fans did.
So what now? The newco MUST be forced to apply for a place in the 3rd division and work their way back up through the leagues. Most Rangers fans accept this is the correct course of action ( although judging by the forums, facebook and twitter it is more out of some demented and feral blood-lust to “kill off!” all those who “kicked us while we were down”. ) and the fans of all SPL and SFL clubs will gladly accept this. The alternative is risk losing the real fans of Scottish football to protect short-term gain for a few figureheads at the SFA, SPL and a few chairmen of clubs.
Why don’t we let the newco start with a clean slate and work their way up and use this as the perfect opportunity to re-structure our football set-up. Perhaps merging our SPL and First Division, lowering ticket prices, organising our own TV package and the re-introduction of standing areas would be a good place to start? No? Ok, lets just tear-up the rule book, become a banana republic and do everything we can to protect the newco and let the newco fans convince themselves they are still the same club and still entitled to everything they have had handed to them or financially cheated their way to over the last few years.
Do I have confidence that those at the SPL and SFL whose bonuses and personal gain are linked directly to having a SKY deal which involves Rangers in the SPL will do the right thing? No, to me it is the foxes guarding the hen house. Sorry to sound all Sandy Jardine here but if the SFL clubs allow the newco to market itself as Rangers Football Club and walk into the First Division…..then the fans of every other SPL and SFL club in this country will revolt and retreat to the safety net of the English premiership.
Now that really WILL be the death of everything we call Scottish football and the fans, bloggers and internet bampots must remain vocal, strong and adament. We must win this and sporting integrity must prevail.
Written by Thomas Payne