Matt, one of my readers, has been kind enough to post a piece for the blog. He makes a simple, but so far much overlooked point about the different treatment meted out by the SFL to troubled teams.
Rangers Football Club (or Sevco Scotland or whatever you want to call them) are in crisis. In Charles Green they have a Chief Executive who refuses to reveal the identity of his backers, refuses to explain how he intends to fund the club as it negotiates its way through a crisis, and seems to be having great difficulty securing a banking facility to take payments for season tickets.
There are various different warring factions within their support, their top players have been leaving in droves, and friendlies involving them have been cancelled as clubs in England and France are not confident that Rangers can actually fulfil a fixture. The club is in a total mess.
In June 2008, Gretna F.C. were relegated from the First Division to the Third Division by the SFL, due to doubts over whether the club – which was in administration at the time – would be able to fulfil its fixtures. In August 2009, Livingston suffered the same fate, despite a new consortium having taken over the club. Again, they were relegated to protect the commercial interests of the SFL in light of the uncertainty that still surrounded the club, even after it had been rescued from oblivion.
Given the amount of uncertainty currently surrounding Rangers FC (so much uncertainty, indeed, that many will question whether “Rangers FC” can be legitimately referred to as such) I think it is fair to assume that, were Rangers currently a First Division club, and were the SFL a fair body which treats all clubs equally, they would be relegated to the Third Division to protect the upper regions of Scottish Football from this toxic doubt.
Of course it would be very controversial if the SFL were to take such action against such a well-supported club. How fortunate it is then, that Rangers are NOT currently members of the First Division, or indeed of the SPL. The SFL then needs to take no action, they can just sit back and invite applications from non-league clubs (and newly formed clubs) to join the Third Division and fill the gap which has opened up. This is not only the safest option, the simplest option, and the most popular with the fans, it is also the only option technically available to them if they stick to their own rules.
But hang on a minute! What’s this I hear? The SFL has decided to actually fast-track this new club called Rangers into the First Division? Not only are they going to bypass the admission process (I’m sure Spartans won’t mind), they are also going to instantly promote them two divisions! Is this because the SFL have changed their mind about clubs in chaos? Have they decided that, if they must have a club who cannot guarantee they will see out the season, they would rather put them in the First Division where their collapse would cause the most damage? Indeed, have they decided that they must, in fact, have such a club? Are they so keen to take such a massive and pointless risk that they will tear up the rulebook, and risk alienating a huge portion of their fanbase?
Apparently, the answer is yes.
Posted by Matt