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SFL claims Rangers in Third Division would take '£16m out of the game'

Leaked document sent to clubs warns of doomsday scenario if newco aren't admitted to First Division.

SFL chief executive David Longmuir (left) and president Jim Ballantyne (right)
SNS Group

The Scottish Football League has claimed around £16m in revenue would be wiped out from the Scottish game if Rangers were to be readmitted to the league structure in the Third Division.

In a private document sent to all 30 member clubs on Thursday, which was seen and published by STV Sport, teams are asked to give their approval to Charles Green's newco playing in the First Division in the 2012/13 season.

Described as the "least damaging" option to the game in Scotland, a £1m payment would be made to the SFL by the Scottish Premier League to "buy out Rangers' media value" and broadcast second tier games involving the club.

Following talks over league reconstruction between the SFL, the SPL and the Scottish Football Association, five options concerning the future of a Rangers playing professional football were put to clubs in the First, Second and Third Divisions.

With SPL clubs set to vote no to allowing a newco Rangers to play in the top flight when they are balloted on July 4, the onus has shifted onto those in the SFL to accommodate Green's proposed team, protecting the top flight's commercial revenues.

It is also claimed in the document, sent out as a presentation to clubs, that the Settlement Agreement between the SPL and SFL, which sees the breakaway league make a payment of around £2m to the lower leagues each season and allows for promotion and relegation between the top two divisions, would be under threat if a compromise can not be found.

Allowing Rangers to play in the First Division, it is claimed, would reduce the revenue of the SPL "by 30%" but is a figure deemed "financially possible to recover" from.

In return for forgoing the accepted rules and practices of the SFL, demands have been made for a play-off between the two leagues, potentially creating a second promotion slot, as well as a change to financial distribution from the top flight to benefit clubs in the First Division long-term.

Agreeing to allow Rangers to play in the second tier in 2012/13 is also described by the league to clubs as balancing "short term need for redemption with a least worst case financial scenario".

SPL threat

If SFL clubs do not approve the plans, the SPL has warned it would press ahead again with proposals to form a breakaway SPL2 second tier, with First Division clubs invited to take part.

The creation of such a league would potentially cut off the SPL from the SFL, leaving clubs left behind with no means to work their way up to the top of the Scottish game.

Reaction

The proposals have been met with anger by Scottish football fans, with many starting to write to their clubs urging them to maintain a united front in the face of increasing pressure to bow to the SPL's wishes of retaining Rangers near the top of the pyramid to protect commercial revenue.

One club source, speaking to STV on the condition of anonymity, admitted the threat of a breakaway SPL2 if the plans were not voted through left his board in a near-impossible position.

Other clubs have expressed privately their continued opposition to allowing Rangers to play in the First Division, with others saying they wished to spend the weekend reviewing the SFL proposal before making a final decision.

Vote on plans

The 30 member clubs of the SFL will meet on Tuesday to discuss the plans put to them, although a vote is not expected to take place over whether to push ahead or reject the ideas.

Confusion also reigns over the percentage of votes required for such a proposal to be approved. An SFL source reportedly commented to the Daily Record on Friday that a majority vote is all that would be required.

Other reports state a 75% majority would be needed, with the SFL rulebook not clearly stating which vote would be required.

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