Scottish giants Rangers were sensationally ordered to start life in their new guise in the lowest tier of Scottish football today, the ultimate humiliation for one of most iconic names in European football.
Rangers’ “newco” were sent into the Third Division following a meeting of Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs, meaning the 54-time domestic champions will visit grounds that barely attract three-figure crowds on match days.
The Scottish Premier League (SPL) and Scottish Football Association (SFA) were hopeful Rangers, the most successful club in Scottish history, would be parachuted into the First Division, with SFA chief executive Stewart Regan claiming that putting them into the Third Division would bring financial catastrophe and a “slow, lingering death” of the game.
But 25 of the 30 SFL clubs voted against Rangers restarting life in Division One and instead to send them plummeting down the leagues after Charles Green’s Sevco consortium, who now run the club, were forced to apply for entry to the SFL once SPL clubs voted against them being allowed to stay in the top flight.
Rangers entered administration in February owing up to £134 million ($209 million/€167 million) to unsecured creditors.
The old company will eventually be wound up and the club, which have invariably played before 50,000-capacity home gates, now have to win three straight promotions to get back to the SPL which they have dominated for decades with their Glasgow rivals Celtic.
“Today has been one of the most difficult decisions to be made by all concerned,” SFL chief executive David Longmuir (pictured above, right) said.
“The decision has been taken in the interest of sporting fairness.”
Green said ahead of the meeting that his consortium would accept whatever decision was reached.
Afterwards he added: “We’ve learned to expect the unexpected and have to accept the decision.”
But SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster said before the vote that sending Rangers to the bottom rung of the pyramid would “inflict massive damage” on the whole of the game in Scotland.