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Jun, 26, 2012

SFL clubs voice Rangers doubts

The uncertainty over where a "newco" Rangers could play next season increased on Tuesday when Scottish First Division clubs voiced their opposition to them being allowed go straight into the division.

On July 4, Scottish Premier League (SPL) clubs are due to vote on whether to allow Charles Green's new Rangers to play in the top flight. Rangers require an 8-4 majority - but six clubs have declared their intention to vote against, meaning Green is likely to seek a place in the Scottish Football League (SFL).

That possibility has already seen Raith Rovers and Falkirk declare that they would oppose any league reconstruction allowing the "newco" to go straight into the First Division.

A Raith statement said: "Raith Rovers continues to closely monitor developments.

"As proud members of the Scottish Football League, we may soon be called upon to consider proposals for the way forward, not only in relation to any vacancy that may arise in our league but also in respect of the future construction of the game in Scotland.

"Whilst we retain an open mind on the subject of league reconstruction, and will carefully consider any proposal put to us by the SFL board in this regard, the board of directors of Raith Rovers FC is unanimous in its view that we shall certainly not cast our vote in favour of any integrated plan that in our view compromises sporting integrity by involving the admission of any "newco" directly into Division One.''

A 75% majority would be needed for SFL clubs to pass any resolution on possible restructuring of the league to accommodate the "newco".

The business and assets of Rangers, who were liquidated with huge debts, were bought by Green after he failed to gain the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) needed for the club to exit administration. The liquidation meant the automatic loss of the SPL place belonging to the old Rangers.

SPL clubs have said they would not welcome the new Rangers, with St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Inverness, Hearts, Dundee United and Hibernian all making their opposition public.

Inverness chairman Kenny Cameron said his club could not ignore the opinion of its supporters, adding: "We have also been contacted by supporters of various other SPL clubs, saying they would not be back to Inverness if we did not accept that sporting integrity was what mattered.

"But this is something that we had already considered, and it is not only the integrity of the SPL that is at stake but the integrity of Scottish football. It is quite clear that supporter opinion in Scotland overwhelming supports that view."

The Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov said: "[Rangers] 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.

"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.''

Dundee United said "general sporting integrity and, more importantly, the integrity of Scottish football, must 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."

On Sunday, Hibernian had stressed that the integrity of the SPL was more important than financial considerations. In a statement, the club said: "The board is also acutely aware that in making this decision, Hibernian - like other clubs in the SPL - will suffer collateral financial damage at a time of severe economic hardship and uncertainty."

Meanwhile, the Scotland left-back Lee Wallace pledged his future to the "newco" two days after Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith said they would exercise their right not to transfer to Green's company.

Rhys McCabe and Sone Aluko have also indicated they will leave Ibrox, but Wallace joins Lee McCulloch in deciding to stay and said: "I respect the decision taken by each individual player."

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