Charles Green’s hopes of launching his newco Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League were dashed today when the number of confirmed objectors among the clubs doubled to six.
Inverness, Aberdeen and St Johnstone announced in quick succession they would vote against Green’s application when the 12 clubs, including the soon-to-be liquidated Rangers, meet on July 4.
Dundee United, Hearts and Hibernian had previously made public their opposition, leaving Green with no chance of securing the 8-4 majority needed.
The main question facing Green now is whether he can secure a deal to demote Rangers to the Irn-Bru First Division amid talks aimed at restructuring the Scottish game or whether he will be forced to apply to gain entry to the Third.
Inverness made their intention clear before Aberdeen effectively consigned Rangers fans to watching lower-league football.
Fan power has been the key to the rejection of Green’s attempts to relaunch Rangers in the SPL, and Motherwell fans are expected to add their club to the list of objectors when they vote on the issue this week.
Caley Thistle chairman Kenny Cameron said: “The past few weeks have been extremely hectic in terms of our supporters and season ticket holders making their views known in great numbers to the club, as is their right.
“It is fair to say that in excess of 95% of them raised the issue of sporting integrity as the reason why they don’t want the newco to be admitted and had not yet renewed their season tickets.
“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.”
Cameron added: “We would be in a completely untenable position, financially and morally, if we defied the overwhelming demand of our own paying customers who are, after all, what Caley Thistle are all about.”
Aberdeen then confirmed their intention and St Johnstone soon added their weight to the opposition to Green’s bid despite warning of a “serious impact” on the club’s finances.
A statement read: “Notwithstanding the potentially damaging financial implications, the board believes that sporting integrity should not be sacrificed in favour of economic expediency.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a mounting groundswell of opinion amongst our fans which has clearly shown that the vast majority of our supporters would not favour an application by newco Rangers to the SPL. This has simply reaffirmed the board’s position.
“It is important that a clear and unambiguous message goes out from the custodians of Scottish football that this sort of scenario should never be allowed to happen again.”
Attempts to accommodate Rangers in the Scottish Football League had already begun with the Scottish Football Association using the crisis to push ahead with proposals to restructure key elements of the game.
The SFA want a merger of the two league bodies as well as a pyramid system and a play-off that could see another top-flight club relegated.
Talks have been held between the three bodies that could see Green’s club admitted to the Irn-Bru First Division instead of inviting them to apply for entry to the Third Division in a bid to protect commercial income but Falkirk have already stated their objection to such a scenario.
And Aberdeen argued that such major change should be considered more carefully.
Chairman Stewart Milne said: “If readmission were to be refused, we believe the appropriate course of action would be for Rangers newco to apply for membership to the SFA and to submit an application for admission to the SFL.”
He added: “Reorganisation of the game is a priority and is something we have been actively involved in for a long time, but it is not something that should be rushed through just to deal specifically with one club.
“As we have indicated there are a number of other areas that we feel need to be addressed openly in the coming period if Scottish football fans are to feel that their views have been properly taken into account.”
One pressing issue is which club would replace Rangers. It is understood that the SPL clubs themselves would make that decision and it could be next Wednesday before it is announced.
Dunfermline finished bottom of the SPL last season but Dundee also have a claim having finished second in the First Division.
Meanwhile, the financial impact could delay a St Mirren takeover until next summer.
The 10,000 Hours community ownership group, who have received financial pledges from more than 1,000 fans, had been hoping to assume control next week but the deal has already been postponed.
Members of the group have been asked whether they would be prepared to support the club with increased donations should commercial revenues fall.
The consultation document said: “Depending on the funding required, this may delay the purchase for a year with your monthly contribution going towards helping the club directly while helping to maintain the integrity of Scottish football.”