Published On: Tue, Jun 26th, 2012

Rangers Newco Nightmare Continues

The problems at the football club formerly known as Rangers have continued unabated this week with the announcement that several key players will not be transferring their contracts over to the newco.   Scotland internationals Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker hosted a press conference where they disclosed that they would not be attending pre-season training and considered themselves to be free agents.   This followed a similar declaration from Sone Aluko and Rhys McCabe and there are also unconfirmed reports that Jamie Ness and Northern Ireland internationals Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty will follow suit in the coming days.

The problem for Newco FC is not that the players themselves are leaving – this was to be expected with the club teetering on the brink of demotion to the Third Division – but that they can simply walk away for absolutely no transfer fee.   Naismith and Whittaker both cost £2 million and would have fetched considerably higher transfer fees under normal circumstances.  Davis, the club captain, and Lafferty weren’t exactly cheap either, costing around £7 million between them.   Aluko was the Player of the Year for Rangers despite only joining the club in November and would have commanded a rather sizeable fee were Rangers able to take up their option to extend his contract.   The loss of McCabe and Ness represents a secondary hammer-blow as both were seen as key players for the future in the battle to rebuild the stricken club.

The actions of these players have disappointed many fans but seem perfectly understandable given the circumstances engulfing the club at the moment.   Charles Green’s Sevco consortium have been threatening legal action but it, quite frankly, looks like a non-starter as the TUPE employment laws seem perfectly clear on this – that anyone has the right to reject a transfer to a newco and they’re entitled to, at least, their original terms if they do decide to transfer.  There is a chink of light at the end of this cavernous tunnel for Rangers supporters with the two Lees, McCulloch and Wallace, pledging their futures to the newco.  One wonders though, just how many more will follow their lead.

The new-Rangers bid to be admitted into the Scottish Premier League looks to have officially ended, with 6 clubs indicating their intention to vote “no” to any newco application.  Inverness, St Johnstone and Aberdeen stated their intentions this week, following on from Hibernian, Hearts and Dundee United.   The proposed revamp of the game in this country, involving the creation of an “SPL 2″ type structure that would admit Rangers into the second tier, also seems in jeopardy with the announcement from two First Division clubs, Raith Rovers and Falkirk, stating their opposition to Newco FC’s admittance into their league.

Demotion to Division Three seems, almost, inevitable and there are Rangers supporters out there who feel that the club would be better off dropping down the divisions and starting again, a kind of taking-their-medicine as they see it.   They feel that they’d be better off in the bottom tier with a clean slate, than being admitted into the top tier with the crippling sanctions that are being proposed.   With points deductions and restrictions on revenue on the agenda, and the prospect of no European football for three years regardless, the Division Three route is seen as an increasingly more attractive option for the supporters.   Many supporters I’ve spoken to have indicated a clear disdain for those fans of other clubs who are, in their eyes, revelling in the club’s demise.  This is a clear factor in their thinking; they want to deny the other SPL clubs the revenue stream that their travelling support and TV money from the club’s presence provides them.  Whether or not any of the other club’s supporters actually mind this, remains to be seen.

One thing’s for sure though, this long-running Southside saga shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

A.H. MacKay

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