SPL clubs were today seeking to balance commercial concerns with principles of sporting integrity at a vote on financial fair play proposals that could effect Rangers.
New rules would see greater penalties for clubs in administration and sanctions on clubs who undergo an “insolvency transfer”, which would see them docked ten points for two seasons and 75 per cent of their SPL income for three years.
Bill Miller who won preferred bidder status from Rangers’ administrators Duff and Phelps, plans to create a new company and buy the club’s assets while Duff and Phelps aim to take the current club out of administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement. He will have to apply to the SPL board to acquire Rangers’ share in the competition, with any potential sanctions currently at that body’s discretion.
Rangers fans, rallied by former player and club employee Sandy Jardine, have threatened action against clubs which they deem to be acting against them but supporters of other teams have warned they will walk away from the SPL if the new club are allowed into the league.
That decision would be the six-man SPL board’s to make but all 12 clubs get a vote on set sanctions. Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson has described the scenario as a “lose-lose situation” amid fears over income falling without a Rangers in the SPL.
“This season we got £1.4million from the SPL,” he said. “If we only get £200,000 to £300,000, then how do we fill the £1m? But fans are talking about boycotts.”
Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston expects leniency towards Rangers. “There is a feeling that member clubs see the commercial benefits of having Rangers in SPL, even if it is a newco,” he said. “Member clubs are mindful of a sporting integrity aspect but the commercial benefits outweigh that.”
Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston, whose team could be relegated tonight, believes a new club should start in the Irn-Bru Third Division, but he expects to be a lone voice. He said: “Everyone agrees that there should be severe punishment, but there are a number of chairmen who will look at the financial thing and say, ‘do we want an SPL without Rangers?’
“It will be a question of sporting integrity against financial necessity.”
Rangers manager Ally McCoist says he can understand the argument that Miller’s newco club should start in the bottom tier but added: “It’s not just as simple as that because I do believe there would be a threat to the livelihood of maybe some other clubs in the SPL if that were to happen. The right thing to do might be the wrong thing in the long run.”