Scottish football needs Hibs and Rangers, currently locked in a race for the Championship title, back in the top flight, Easter Road boss Alan Stubbs claimed today.
Only one team – and Stubbs refused to write off the chances of third-placed Falkirk – can gain automatic promotion at the end of the season.
Last season Hibs and Rangers both lost out in the play-offs as Hearts secured their return to the Premiership as runaway winners, but head coach Stubbs firmly believes the game will only benefit from having Hibs and Rangers back there as well, pointing to the two-year struggle to secure a Premiership sponsorship deal.
He said: “What we’ve got now in the Championship is a huge club in Rangers fighting their way back up the leagues wanting to get into the Premiership again, same as us after relegation two seasons ago.
“We look on ourselves, same as Rangers, as a team that wants to be in the Premiership. I honestly believe in order to promote and have a better league, the SPFL needs clubs like Rangers and ourselves in the mix.
“Right now you only have to look to see how difficult it has been to get a sponsor. We have to try to make it as attractive and competitive as we possibly can. Is that the case? I think if anybody is honest they would probably say ‘No’.” While Rangers have been working their way back to the top having been demoted to the bottom tier following the financial crash at Ibrox, it was problems on the pitch which led to Hibs dropping out of the Premiership, beaten by Hamilton as they became the first victims of the newly introduced play-off system.
Stubbs: “I’ve said all along we were one of the clubs that signed the papers when they all agreed to it (play-offs). I am not trying to say that because we are one of the big clubs in Scotland we should automatically be in that league.
“We knew exactly what the terms of the deal were when it was signed so, yes, you have to get on with it and deal with it. I’m just speaking generally, would the Premiership be better with Rangers or ourselves in it or better without? That’s the point I am making.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs insisted he won’t be backing down in his war of words with Mark Warburton having irked the Ibrox boss by claiming the Glasgow club’s budget is four times the size of his.
Warburton accused Stubbs of “just picking numbers out of the sky,” but the Hibs head coach said: “It’s not trying to be clever, what I said at the time is fact.
“I’ve got pressure from the teams below me because my budget is bigger than theirs. I know that and I have no problem with it.
“I’m here to win games of football and when your budget is bigger than teams below, you’re expected to win.”