Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Rangers would be welcome in the English non-league ranks, reveals Blue Square chief

Lisa Grey

Blue Square Bet Premier chairman Brian Lee has refused to rule out the possibility of Rangers joining his division.

The Glasgow giants have indicated they could seek to quit Scottish football if league reconstruction plans are approved.

Lee is well aware that any attempts by Rangers to switch south of the border would be met by a number of obstacles.

But he believes such problems are "not insurmountable" and the issue is set to be discussed at a club summit on January 21.

Lee said: "On Monday we have a mid-season meeting of clubs so that is a topic for conversation.

"It's up to the clubs to make rule changes.

"There are one or two problems, of course. It's up to FIFA whether a club can change countries or not, so that's the first issue.

"And the second, and probably the most important, is the problem it would create with promotion and relegation and having an uneven number of teams.

"It would be wrong if the Football League would not take Rangers as part of the promotion and relegation system.

"Otherwise they would be in the Conference keeping out a team who might have the wherewithal to go higher in the pyramid.

"But they are not insurmountable problems.

"You will have to have the co-operation of a lot of different organisations to make it possible, but where there is a will there is a way."

Rangers chief executive Charles Green is unhappy with plans for a 12-12-18 league format, which have been agreed on in principle by the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.

If approved, the reforms could be introduced as early as next season, leaving Irn-Bru Third Division leaders Rangers facing a second season in the bottom tier regardless of title success.

Faced with such a scenario, the Ibrox chief wants the Light Blues to explore opportunities to play their football elsewhere.

Green, who has proposed an alternative 14-14-14 format, believes Rangers fans would back a move to the fifth tier of English football.

Speaking on TalkSport last week, he said: "I could join the Conference and I would be in a higher league than I'm in. It doesn't matter to me (which league Rangers are in).

"I can tell you this, if the only option is to go into England and start at the lowest level, I believe Rangers fans would support that."

Meanwhile, Rangers will allow Francesco Stella to quit the club after the Australian failed to force his way into boss Ally McCoist's plans.

The 21-year-old - who came through the youth system at Italian side Chievo before moving to Siena - signed in the summer following a two-week trial.

He has endured a frustrating lack of first-team action this season and has been given the go-ahead to find another club.

McCoist said: "Francesco has made it clear to us that he is disappointed at the lack of first team matches, which I totally understand.

"We will not stand in his way because we feel at this stage he wouldn't benefit the first team.

"He is in the process of leaving the club now and he goes with our best wishes."

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