Chairmen reject Rangers 'doomsday' talk

Chairmen of rival clubs arrived for a meeting regarding the future of financially stricken Glasgow giants Rangers on Friday insisting it would not be the end of Scottish football if they were demoted to the Third Division.

Already expelled from the Scottish Premier League (SPL), following the formation of a new company or newco that took place after Rangers entered administration, it is now for the 30 Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs to decide in which league the Ibrox club will play next season.

Rangers, Scotland's most successful side, will either be in the First Division or Third Division next term depending upon the outcome of a meeting at Glasgow's Hampden Park, the headquarters of the Scottish Football Association.

It appears the vast majority of the voting clubs want the 140-year-old Rangers demoted to the Third Division.

However, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has said that would cause financial catastrophe and a "slow, lingering death" of the Scottish game.

His preference is for Rangers to be in the First Division and, to try to 'sweeten the pill', Regan, together with other officials, has proposed a series of reforms including expansion of the SPL to 14 clubs from the start of the 2013/14 season, with two more to be added at a later date.

Safeguarding the multi-million pound commercial deals on which Scotland's professional clubs rely so heavily is central to Regan's stance, with a new television deal worth £80 million ($125m) over five seasons reputedly dependent on the screening of four Rangers v Celtic Old Firm derbies a season.

Broadcasters are said to be prepared to go no more than one year without these showcase matches.

But Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston said Friday that even if talk of a £16 million 'black hole' was accurate, the SFL clubs would deal with it.

"I don't think everybody necessarily believes those figures we've been given but if the figures are correct it is part of the pain we have to bear."

Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton accused officials of exaggerating the scale of the problem were Rangers to play in the Third Division.

"Some of the horror stories about the finances...15 months ago Neil Doncaster (SPL chief executive) and Henry McLeish (author of the Review of Scottish Football) stood there and said it had to be a 10-team SPL or it was going to be financial Armageddon if that didn't happen.

"Now we are talking about a 16-team SPL."

Newco Rangers chief executive Charles Green, speaking ahead of Friday's vote, said: "I think the vilification and persecution has to end and common sense has to prevail and I think it will."

But many fans of rivals teams and even some Rangers supporters, tired of the criticism and keen not to have their club beholden to anyone, want them in the Third Division as has happened in the past when clubs have been punished for financial mismanagement.

In 2008, Gretna were relegated from the SPL to the third division -- and then went bust -- after being unable to guarantee that they would fulfil their fixtures, while a year later Livingston were relegated from the first division to the third division after breaching league rules on insolvency.

Police are conducting a criminal investigation into the takeover of Rangers by Craig Whyte in May 2011.

Businessman Whyte bought an 85% shareholding in Rangers for £1 from previous owner Sir David Murray and made several pledges in terms of future investment and paying off the club's bank debt.

However, Rangers went into administration on February 14 this year following court action from UK tax officials.

Immediately after being appointed, the club's administrators announced that Rangers had failed to pay about £9 million ($14m) in tax since Whyte's takeover.

They also revealed that the club had paid off a debt to Lloyds Banking Group from a £24.4million ($38m) capital injection from investment firm Ticketus, which was secured on the back of future season ticket sales.

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