Sunday 18 March 2018

SPL meeting set to define future of the Scottish game

Ewing Grahame

This morning the Scottish Premier League's members will convene at Hampden for their 14th annual general meeting. It could also be their last.

Friday's momentous decision by Scottish Football League clubs to place newco Rangers in the Third Division will have far-reaching effects for the highest level of the Scottish game.

The likely reduction in TV money caused by Rangers' removal from their fixture list will put several member clubs under severe financial pressure.

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour has claimed that having Sevco Scotland Ltd, who own Rangers' assets, in the bottom tier rather than the First Division will be catastrophic. "Five clubs could be left in administration within weeks," he said.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle chairman Kenny Cameron was even more alarmist when he outlined the problems facing the top flight.

"None of us will escape the financial fall-out from this," he said.

Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Dundee United are the other clubs threatened by bankruptcy and the last named, along with Hearts, have publicly stated that they will have no truck with any attempt by SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster to cobble together SPL2, which would include Sevco and, so the argument goes, save the TV contracts with Sky and ESPN.

Doncaster told SFL clubs earlier this month that the SPL would not be able to pay their organisation the annual £1.9m settlement agreement if Rangers were not allowed to enter the First Division.

With the SFL's members voting 25-5 to defy Doncaster and install them in the Third Division, Doncaster and his clubs must now find a way of meeting this legally binding contractual commitment.

Failure to do so would leave the SPL insolvent, with their clubs then forced to apply for membership of the Scottish League.

Irish Independent

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