Rangers dealt Hearts blow
Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov has revealed his club are set to vote against a newco Rangers being accepted into the SPL.
The 12 SPL clubs - including Rangers - will vote on the issue at a general meeting on July 4, with an 8-4 majority required for the newco to be included.
In a 500-word statement on Hearts' official website, Romanov said: "Supporters deserve a new beginning and have to accept the fact that their club has to start from the lower league, keeping order in the SPL and without creating unfair competition with other clubs."
While expressing sympathy for supporters of Rangers, Romanov - who pointed the finger of blame at various figures - was adamant the Glasgow club should be punished.
He added: "As regards the club itself, we can only express our deepest condolences to its supporters, who have been lied to for so many years. It had to happen sooner or later. They have lived beyond law and all morals, and should now be declared beyond the pale.''
Later on Thursday, Dundee United struck a further blow to Rangers by indicating they will join Hearts in voting against the proposal.
In a statement, Dundee United said after discussing the situation with supporters' groups, they reached the conclusion that the sporting integrity of the competition required the newco Rangers not to be included.
The statement said: "The board... are unequivocal in the belief that a form of sporting punishment must form part of the reasoning behind any decision made and, therefore, cannot vote the newco into the SPL.
"General sporting integrity and, more importantly, the integrity of Scottish football must also play a significant part in the decision-making process. It is our belief that any form of sporting punishment must be unambiguous in the message it displays.''