Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

McCoist: Rangers will be stronger

Rangers will play in the Third Division next season
Rangers will play in the Third Division next season

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has vowed that his team will come back stronger following a vote for the football club to play in the fourth tier of Scottish football.

The 30 clubs of the Scottish Football League (SFL) voted 25-5 in favour of entering the Ibrox side into the Third Division.

The teams were voting on whether Charles Green's newco Rangers should enter the league and which division they should be placed in.

The Scottish Premier League (SPL) and Scottish Football Association were hopeful Rangers would be parachuted into the First Division, with SFA chief executive Stewart Regan claiming that putting the Ibrox club into the Third Division would bring financial catastrophe and a "slow, lingering death" of the game.

The Ibrox side went into administration in February after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs lodged a petition over the non-payment of about £9 million PAYE and VAT since Craig Whyte's 2011 takeover. It later emerged the club's liabilities could total as much as £135 million. A CVA with creditors was later turned down by HMRC - consigning the club to liquidation.

Charles Green's consortium then completed the purchase of the business and assets of Rangers for £5.5 million, creating a new company. But the SPL voted not to allow it back into top flight football.

McCoist said he fully accepted the decision of the SFL to allow the side to play in the third division. He said: "Clearly, starting again from the bottom league is not ideal and makes the task of rebuilding Rangers a longer one but the SFL was placed in an impossible situation and I respect its decision. I fully supported the fans' views that starting again in Division Three maintains the sporting integrity that the SPL clubs were so keen on. The SPL clubs and the SFA have made their positions clear over the last few weeks and it remains to be seen what the long-term effects of their decisions will be.

"Rangers has been severely punished for the actions of some individuals who previously ran the club and it will take time for us to recover but we will come back stronger thanks to the loyalty of the fans and the commitment of everyone at Ibrox who are working tirelessly to bring stability and success back to Rangers."

SFL chief executive David Longmuir said the "only acceptable position" was for Rangers to go into the third division. He said: "I'm comfortable today that the Scottish Football League made a very, very decisive decision that was based on sporting fairness and I think the Scottish Football League were in the right place to make that decision."

However, some concerns were raised about the practicalities of Rangers playing against the likes of Annan Athletic and Peterhead in the lowest league. Chief Superintendent David O'Connor, the president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said: "There will be an issue with policing. Smaller clubs will never have seen crowds like that. There needs to be early dialogue between division three clubs and local police forces."

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