Arbroath FC participate in League reconstruction talks
Updated Thursday, 21st June 2012
From the Daily Record@ THE SFL have been asked to ride to the rescue of Scottish football by accepting newco Rangers in the First Division next season.
Minnow clubs are set to cobbletogether a compromise on behalf of the SPL and SFA before the start of the new campaign that will eventually lead to a merger of the two league bodies and the senior game being re-branded as the SPFL.
The merger is the model SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has been championing on the back of Henry McLeish’s review into the future of our game.
The SFL board held an emergency two-hour meeting at Alloa yesterday morning, as revealed by Record Sport, and reached a broad agreement on the principle of accepting newco Rangers into the second tier of the game.
But in return, they want guarantees going forward on voting rights, fairer financial distribution and easier access to the top flight for First Division clubs, most likely via a play-off system.
And to appease Sky TV chiefs it is understood the Glasgow Cup could be revived to ensure there will still be Old Firm clashes.
SFL chief executive David Longmuir was tight-lipped as he left Recreation Park yesterday lunchtime after talks with Ewen Cameron (Alloa), Kenny Ferguson (Brechin), Gilbert Lawrie (Dumbarton), Anne McKeown (Arbroath) and Jim Leishman (Dunfermline).
But last night he said: “We had a very productive meeting and we’re right in the middle of discussing all the options at the moment and Rangers’ situation is part of it.
“There are other options available as well but we’re just trying to do what is best for Scottish football.
“We’re not ruling anything out at the moment and there is a lot of work to be done before anything can be put together and agreed on.
“I think we looked at every option available to benefit the game and the Rangers issue was one of them.
“As an organisation, we are preparing ourselves for every eventuality that may impact on us. That is the only prudent thing to do.”
The SFL intend to exploit the situation to insist on the return of the play-off system, which the SPL abolished 14 years ago.
Longmuir said: “Play-offs are always on our radar and on our agenda. We think that their re-introduction would benefit the game.
“They’ve proved to be a very successful format and it’s something we will continue to work towards because we believe it’s important.”
The SFA and SPL have been caught between a rock and a hard place as they seek to punish Rangers for their financial recklessness and yet protect the commercial interests of the game as a whole.
SPL fans are up in arms at the prospect of Charles Green’s newco being admitted into the top flight and club chairmen are listening but they must also protect the £80million Sky deal, set to kick-in in August.
The SFA’s position is equally as problematic as Lord Carloway could shortly decide to suspend or expel Rangers from the Association after a recent Court of Session verdict set aside a transfer embargo imposed by an earlier tribunal.
Doubt also remains if newco Rangers can even be granted automatic entry to the SFA asarticle 14 suggests a member’sshare, held by the old company, is non-transferrable.
Talks have already taken place between the three bodies and more are planned but time is of the essence as lower-league clubs start their season with Ramsdens Cup ties on July 28.
A new SPFL will be almost impossible to introduce for the new season and the challenge will be to legally enforce principals in the coming months that will prevail when the new structure comes on stream, most likely next summer.
One SFL club source said: “It will take a leap of faith for the SFL to accept Rangers for the new season on the promise of widespread and wholesale changes being made for the good of the game the following year.
“What happens if Rangers win the First Division title and then it’s declared all bets are off on the radical reform so many believe is needed throughout the game?
“The SFL will have to go forward on something stronger than an understanding between their members and the SPL. They must have something that is legally watertight and that’s just one of many challenges as timescales are so tight.
“In truth, the whole thing is a mess. You cannot merge two organisations within the space of a few weeks. There are legal and morale issues to contend with, not least the question of sponsors to satisfy,governance and constitutional issues to resolve, as well as staffing levels. As always, the devil will be in the detail.”
Longmuir recently said there was no scope for newco Rangers to play in the First Division but, in truth, the rule book will have to be ripped up to allow Rangers to keep playing at a decent level and effect the change the SFL hope will benefit the whole of the Scottish game.