Rangers… the club where bad news just keeps on coming
21:03 GMT, 5 July 2012
The bad news keeps on coming for Rangers. The club’s proposed summer tour to Germany was cancelled on Thursday. That follows the cancellation of friendlies against Le Havre and Southampton.
That followed last month’s liquidation, which followed February’s administration. It in turn followed Rangers’ bankruptcy — economic and, some say, moral. For Rangers fans, who sing of their determination to ‘follow on’, where this now leads is guesswork.
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On Wednesday, Rangers’ unravelling present led them to Hampden Park, Scottish football’s headquarters. There they were informed by their peers in the Scottish Premier League that Rangers’ financial misdemeanours — including tax avoidance — meant they were no longer welcome. Their behaviour over a period of years had compromised the SPL’s sporting integrity.
Rangers’ new owners — the original company formed in 1872 died on June 12, 2012 — seemed shocked at this. If so, they badly misread a clear public mood in Scotland that says Rangers need punishment. Even among their own fanbase, this mood exists to varying degrees.
So here we are, 29 days before the next SPL season, and there is chaos.
Yet another week will slowly pass before a return to Hampden. Then the Scottish Football League will decide on which division Rangers enter.
The governing body, the SFA, have made apocalyptic statements regarding the possibility that anywhere other than the First Division would mean ‘meltdown’.
If Rangers are sent to the bottom, the Third Division, to start again, they would not be back in the Scottish top flight until August 2015 at the earliest, a year after the next World Cup. It is understood that small print enables Sky TV and ESPN to walk away from their agreements should this be next Friday’s decision. The SFA stress 15.7million would be lost instantly.
On Wednesday, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said that TV could ‘live’ with Rangers in the First Division for the assumed one season because of the ‘theatre’ of it all.
Crisis: The Ibrox club's future remains uncertain
Rangers, the new company romantically
called Sevco 5088, will still have to operate under a 12-month transfer
embargo and, while ‘we don’t do walking away’ became a springtime
catchphrase, Wylde, Davis, Lafferty, Naismith, Aluko, Whittaker, Ness
and other players have walked away since. Ally McCoist remains as
With an ad hoc squad there is no guarantee Rangers would win the First
Division but, if they did, it would mean only one season without
Celtic-Rangers games and, as Regan said: ‘It’s no secret that the media
value of TV contracts is predicated on Old Firm derbies.
‘Without Old Firm derbies the value takes a substantial drop. The
overseas rights are almost exclusively about Old Firm derbies, they’re
the only matches overseas want to take.
‘I think it’s fair to say that the broadcasters would live without a
year (of the Old Firm), knowing that there is a chance that year could
be of terrific interest — “How are this team going to do” There will be
a galvanising of fans, a siege mentality, the broadcasters see that as a
‘But, beyond that, you start to think that media value will be less and
less. They cannot possibly agree to a five-year contract when a
substantial period of that contract does not contain games they thought
A hazard for this argument is that Livingston were relegated to the
Third Division, from the First, three years ago after liquidation. They
are the precedent. If ‘sporting integrity’ is the aim, then Rangers
should follow Livingston and Sky TV can join those walking away.
Emotionally, this is popular. It ties in with a public mood that wants
the powerful, whether they be bankers, politicians or football club
owners, punished — not bailed out.
Rangers have accumulated debt of 130m and anxious creditors. Many fans
in Scotland feel trapped. Dick Advocaat, the Ibrox Imelda Marcos, spent
92m on players — 12m on Tore Andre Flo — and a strong feeling is that
Rangers bought their success. Ibrox lived beyond its means and opponents
think they paid for it, once then, now a second time.
The chairmen of the Scottish First Division clubs know this is the angry will of their people. It has shaped their thoughts.
In the midst of this, though, it is worth asking if Livingston really
are a suitable precedent. Formerly Meadowbank Thistle, Livingston have
been in their town only since 1995. The capacity of Almondvale is
10,000. When Livingston entered the Third Division, their first home
game attracted 632 spectators. In an English sense it’s like comparing
Manchester United to Stevenage.
Against that stand principles of fairness, justice, sporting integrity.
Scotland is one of the homes of the game but the place is a mess. Celtic
are 1-33 to win the SPL next season, which would make it 28 years since
a club outside the Old Firm won the league title. If Rangers are
guilty of looking after themselves, Scottish football is guilty of not