'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.'Many in Scotland and Northern Ireland would agree with that sentiment following Rangers FC's demise. All the talk now is about the 'newco', what will the the new Rangers look like and more importantly where will they play.
The situation with Rangers FC's liquidation is a crisis within Scottish Football where there are no rules for what has happened and that has led the Scottish FA to call for an amalgamation of all three Scottish Footballing bodies which are the FA the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League so as to create a proper pyramid system and a more equitable share of monies in the game.
Secondly, ownership of the 'newco' Rangers is far from decided with a consortium led by Charles Green being in the driving seat at the moment but the only problem being is that fans are threatening not to renew their season tickets if Green' consortium win. It seems that the fans, the manager and the players favour a consortium led by Rangers' most successful manager Walter Smith which seem firm favourites at the moment.
Which consortium wins will probably have an impact on the other 11 SPL Chairman who will decide on the 'newco' Rangers application to join the SPL.
There seems to be 3 options, the 'newco' Rangers will be allowed to join the SPL as if nothing has happened (unlikely), secondly, the compromise deal, Rangers will be relegated to the Scottish First Division where they will probably remain for one season (likely if Smith consortium win); if this happens the question is who replaces Rangers in the SPL, would it be Dunfermline who were relegated or will it be Dundee who were placed second in the SFL First Division? The third option is by far the worst option for Scottish football and in fact the Scottish economy and that would be that the 'newco' Rangers will be relegated to the Scottish Third Division and it would take them 3 years to return to the SPL.
What are the pros and cons of the options, if 'newco' Rangers go straight into the SPL it will have been unprecedented for a 'new club' to go straight into the SPL without going through the pyramid system.
The downside of 'newco' Rangers joining the SFL First Division, is the loss of income of a minimum of four Old Firm games in Glasgow and the estimated GDP value of the old Firm games to the Scottish economy is £46 million a year. The financial benefit for the other 9 clubs in the SPL of having Rangers play away is in the region of £300,000 a game, whilst the value of a 5 year Sky deal is worth £80 million and this was negotiated on the basis of 4 Old Firm games a season, how many Scots will subscribe to a Sky Sports subscription without any guaranteed Old Firm games?
There is only one advantage to Rangers not being in the SPL and that is the opportunity for the 'peripherals' or the 'nearly there' sides to get into Europe, for example Motherwell are guaranteed 4 European games next season, first of all they will play in the Champions League Qualifying Round then when they are knocked out they will then have an opportunity to play in the Europa Cup; and without being unkind to St Johnstone their presence in the Europa Cup next season was something of a surprise.
Clearly having 'newco' Rangers in the SFL whether in the First or Third Division will be a massive boost to the meagre attandences of the likes of Clyde, Peterhead and Stranraer with their 600 regular supporters increasing 5 or even 10 fold. Whilst Scottish Football may survive a 'newco' Rangers being in the SFL First for a season it is unlikely that requiring Rangers to climb through the pyramid system over 3 years will do irreperable harm to what are the Old Firm institutions and also to the Scottish economy especially those small businesses around Ibrox that rely on 50,000 Rangers fans attending Ibrox every fortnight.
This is more than about football, it is about the Glasgow economy and people's livelihood. and whether we are football fans or not we should all be concerned about the mismanagement that has allowed this crisis to happen.