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Saturday 18 November 2017

More Scottish first division clubs oppose move to accommodate Rangers

NEW Rangers WO more Scottish Football League clubs have come out against the idea of a newco Rangers joining the Irn-Bru First Division amid speculation that some Clydesdale Bank Premier League clubs are on the verge of a U-turn.

Stranraer and Stirling both said Charles Green's club should have to apply for membership of the Irn-Bru Third Division ahead of this morning's Hampden meeting of SFL clubs.

Six others have already stated their opposition while Airdrie have vowed to abstain from any vote as they would be promoted should the Ibrox club be denied SPL and First Division status.

No vote will be taken at today's meeting but the SPL clubs will be hugely interested in any feedback 24 hours ahead of their vote on Green's SPL application.

Seven SPL clubs have already publicly confirmed their opposition but Green says he is confident chairmen will listen to his pleas to consider the impact on Scottish football.

Reports this morning claim Green, who met several SPL clubs over the weekend, has offered a six-point plan to secure top-flight football including a points deduction and making a public apology on behalf of the oldco club.

However, the rest of the reported proposals - SPL voting reform and fairer distribution of wealth, accepting an SFA transfer ban and repayment of football debts - could come about anyway as a consequence of the Old Firm being split up or by stipulations made by the SFA over membership.

A document presented to SFL clubs includes a claim that the Third Division option could cost Scottish football £16million and Green hopes SPL clubs will now balk at the consequences of rejecting his bid.

Green told www.rangers.co.uk: "I know the chairmen will listen. The problem some of them have to a lesser degree than I have here is fan pressure.

"We think the important thing is Scottish football and we need to draw a line and move forward.

"There is now a clearer understanding of the implications of football without Rangers because, remember, this is not just about Rangers not being in the SPL.

"Lord Carloway may even just withdraw the licence to play at all if we go back to the tribunal.

"There are some big decisions and none are more material than Rangers being excluded from the league and the financial incomes this club drives for the benefit of all Scottish clubs."

Fans-run club Stirling will be guided by a poll of supporters that revealed 68% were in favour of the Third Division option with 16% arguing for termination or suspension of Rangers' SFA membership.

The Stranraer board declared themselves unconvinced by the "emotive language" of the document and said the SFL's credibility should not be risked by bending the rules.

A statement read: "There should not be a special case made for any club and we believe that the proper place for a phoenix club to restart life is at the lowest level."

However, Hamilton chairman Les Gray called for decisions to be made purely for the game's long-term prosperity and enjoyment of supporters.

Gray said: "Harmony must be restored between all clubs for the good of our game and the continued existence of all Scotland's clubs."

Motherwell are expected to confirm today that supporters in their fans ownership scheme rejected the idea of relaunching Rangers in the SPL.

An announcement was expected yesterday but was delayed amid the unexpected development of Derek Weir stepping down as vice-chairman of the club and one of the six SPL board members.

Motherwell had warned of a potential £900,000 loss of income if newco Rangers were not accepted but also stated administration would be a possibility whatever the outcome given the prospect of alienating loyal fans.

Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian, Inverness, St Johnstone and St Mirren have all previously declared themselves against the newco bid.

If SFL clubs harden their stance against the compromise proposal today then those clubs will face the dilemma of either reneging on promises to supporters, many of whom renewed season tickets after the announcements, or risking a period of extreme financial uncertainty with no confirmation yet over the consequences for SPL television deals.

Second Division side East Fife also believe the 'newco' Rangers should enter the Third Division ahead of the new season.

A statement on the club's website read: "East Fife FC want to make clear our views on the current 'newco' situation as it relates to SFL membership. We have taken into account the views of over 500 of our supporters who responded to our survey.

"We retain an open mind on the subject of league reconstruction, and will carefully consider any proposal put to us in this regard.

"The board of directors of East Fife FC, however, is unanimous in its view that we shall not support any integrated plan that in our view compromises sporting integrity by involving the admission of any 'newco' directly into Division One.

"Any 'newco' must follow the normal application route into the bottom tier."

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