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Rangers voted into Scotland’s fourth tier

Rangers (Reuters Pictures)

Rangers' climb back to the top of Scottish soccer will start at an unprecedented low.

After a vote conducted by 30 Scottish Football League clubs, Rangers will be playing in Division Three — the country's fourth tier — as it starts its rebirth as a new company following the financial turmoil that forced the club into administration and out of the Premier League. Dunfermline or Dundee will replace Rangers in the country's top flight, and 25 of the 30 clubs voted for Rangers to be placed in Division Three, according to the BBC.

The club is already facing a mass exodus of players despite new owner Charles Green's assertion that they are not free to go elsewhere just yet. For Americans Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya, the ruling accelerates their urgency to find better playing situations. All have been linked with moves away from the club, something that seems like a certainty now given Friday's vote.

What do you think of this development? Can you see any of the three U.S. internationals staying at Rangers now?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Bankruptcy (*or adjudication or whatever they call it there) is not semantics. And no, it doesn’t erase history or identity, but it does eliminate any right that Newco Rangers have to be in the SPL, First or Second division.

    The SPL isn’t the MLS where they just vote teams in based on how much money it will help them make, they have to be promoted up.
    Ultimately Scottish football will benefit from a more robust promotion and relegation format, and decreased dominance of the 2 glasgow heavyweights. It is still the country with the highest per capita attendance in Europe (or so they claim, but I’m inclined to believe them). 3 years is a blip in a nation’s footballing history.

    The SPL and the old Scottish first division haven’t been a top league for a long time, and its decline has gone hand in hand with the Old Firm recent, total domination. (not that they didn’t dominate previously.. but there had been periods of other clubs being competitive prior to the SPL’s breaking away).

  2. Since you don’t know what begs the question means, I’m not sure I can really take anything you say very seriously….

  3. Halford,

    I recently had a conversation with a Scottish friend and, don’t laugh, but he said exactly the same thing you said about Playstation.

    It seems Scottish kids just don’t play ball any more. There is a cautionary tale in there somewhere.

    I obvioulsy don’t have any demographic data

  4. Yeah, Scotland doesn’t produce Scottish players anymore. I think there are a few reasons for this. One reasons is like you said Celtic and Rangers buy decent foreign players. Well there is an opportunity cost for that which is they don’t have the money for youth development. They used to be able to do both when they were going far in Europe. Not anymore.

    Another thing i noticed when i was in Scotland recently was that you never see kids playing soccer. The parks and soccer fields are empty. Ten years ago those same fields were full of kids playing. Not sure whats happened. Scotland has always had a pub culture but i don’t think that could be the only reason. Maybe they are all indoors playing on their playstations.

  5. complete nonsense.

    for one MLS teams aren’t used to playing hard all season. They loaf it knowing over half of them make the end of year playoffs.

    I’m a betting man and if you took the three best MLS teams and flew them over to Scotland and had them play a full SPL season i would say they would all finish in the middle of the table.

  6. I’m with you in that I only care about the USMNTers.

    The problem is, even the highest tier of Scottish football is irrelevant. Juve dropping to Serie B still put it in a higher quality league than the SPL.

    The Scottish football pyramid is way too bloated, but nobody else in the UK has any desire to help the Scots out.

  7. Apparently you couldn’t see anything through the fog and rain. If not, the spectacle of being at a live European match must have clouded your judgment.

    I’ve watched a few dozen Rangers and Celtic matches on the internet (in addition to at least a hundred MLS matches live and on TV/the web. In Scotland, the ball spends half the match bouncing off of players’ heads. In MLS it’s only a quarter of the match.

    Out of the 12 SPL teams last season, 4 or 5 might (only might) make the MLS playoffs.

  8. While I generally agree with you, it’s unfair to call all the SPL players “average (at best).”

    Look at Jelavic, who easily slotted in at Everton and started putting in goals after he was sold by Rangers.

  9. As wronged as the other SPL teams (rightly) feel, they are helping their league commit suicide.

    All of Rangers’ problems are on the business side and should be sorted out by suits.

    Give the club a nigh insurmountible point deficit to overcome (i.e. force them to maintain their past dominance just to stay up), place very strict restrictions on how much they can pay players, and leave it at that.

    The SPL will fold within 5 years (or some strings will be pulled for Rangers and it will last a decade). Mark my words.

  10. +1

    All the people crying “justice is served!” don’t think like adults.

    “Rangers FC” was 1/2 of the SPL. Now it’s just Celtic.

  11. Semantics doesn’t eliminate the history or identity of Rangers as a club.

    Management of the other clubs must be taking crazy pills. 50% of the relevance in the SPL is now gone along with all of the monetary draw, all so that a few irrelevant bigwigs could have the satisfaction of shafting one of the teams that perennially kicked their butts.

    Also, despite Rangers’ recent poor performances in Europe, do we really see Inverness or Hearts going anywhere in the UCL or the Europa League?

  12. Relegation is hardly a death sentence. Juve were sent down a few years ago and it was quite a benefit to Serie B. Admittedly this is a liitle worse for Rangers and they are a much crappier team than Juve were.

    As a USMNT fan I only care about the three Americans. If they have an option it is clear Edu and Boca should move. Bedoya could land on his feet there depending on how this all works out as it is probably not completely settled yet.

    As a nuetral observer this is probably for the best. Scottish football has been in need of a serious shake for years. It’s just shame they could not have taken down Celtic in the process.

    The Old Firm has been in a sort of limbo for so long; dominant in Scotland but horse manure outside of it. As I see it he problem is, somewhere along the line, Scotland stopped producing Scottish players.

    The Old Firm were dominant because they could afford to bring in mediocre foreigners (like our boys) to supplement therir increasingly meager Scottish core. The other clubs had to rely on growing their own and for some reason, their crops have been miserable for some time now.

    I don’t know if this will help but perhaps if Rangers also have to rely more on local boys, that will give those kids a chance to get better.

  13. Rangers or Celtic could compete in MLS, but not the others. It is difficult for LA Galaxy to compete in MLS right now.

  14. no its not sir

    if you know what you’re looking for its easy to see that the SPL (prior to Rangers exit) was superior to the MLS.

    what makes MLS better in your opinion?

  15. i was in Scotland last year and went to several SPL games: dundee utd vs celtic, hibs vs hearts, and hibs vs motherwell.

    I have to say that it was a higher standard than the MLS. The soccer IQ and spacing was much better as was the technical ability.

    Sometimes i watch an MLS match and its like watching chickens with their heads cut off run around chasing the ball.

  16. Rangers should be selling all their players and replacing them with scout team and amateur players. Our boys will find jobs elsewhere.

  17. Swansea and Cardiff are basically grandfather exceptions from like 100 years of English play. UEFA are not big on newbies. Every so often one or both of the Old Firm theorizes a Euro Superleague and UEFA grumbles it will never happen. At minimum, they’d be barred from UEFA CL.

  18. Rangers was failing to pay other teams and not paying all their taxes. There might be cynical other financial reasons for trying to keep them up, but teams weren’t being paid for ticket sales so who cares how much Ibrox holds and theoretically would pay.

    In terms of TV and other deals, the league needs the reality or at least illusion of solvency to support those just the same. Rangers may have contributed to the value of the TV but it also risked the whole shebang because it was causing other teams financial problems to not be paid by Rangers, which risked a domino effect.

    No team is more important than league integrity and solvency, and Rangers was starting to risk more than itself. They then ceased to exist and under league rules that means any replacement starts over. Elevating them to the SPL would be tossing out the rulebook for short term financial gain. I think Gretna did not teach the financial probity lesson enough so a lesson needs to be taught, even at slight expense to the bottom line. Over time, getting their crap together will benefit the whole even if it bothers Old Firmers.

  19. I read the same thing this morning, surprised no one else mentioned it. The SPL knows how important Rangers are to their survival. So they boot them out for a year as a slap on the wrist, but they’re going to restructure the pyramid to ensure that they’re back at the top as quickly as possible.

  20. “The fans” ???? The FANS benefited unfairly! their success the last 10 years was due to financial cheating by their owners… so yes Rangers fans deserve some suffering.

  21. Of course, who knows how much a 3rd division Rangers will be paying, how they plan to handle their inevitable ascendancy. Usually relegated teams dump salary, but how much? Do they keep an expensive core to ensure repeat promotions?

    I say that because Rangers have to be willing to pay these people on the other end. I don’t know if there’s even TV for 3rd division Scotland, surely much lower road receipts. etc. So I’ll be interested who’s retained and how long. Right now it’s like a game but after a year in the third division will they still be insisting people be on their books, no, you can’t have your registration?

  22. None of us knows the exact language in the sponsorship and TV deals to tell whether the sponsors can back out. Rangers paid late, but now SPL will not get any payments from the Ranger’s gate receipts. I don’t expect that the newly promoted club will get anywhere near in the attendance to 50,000 in regular attendance at Ibrox. As for the TV deal, SPL expected to extend it during this season for additional five years with a heafty increase in TV money, but now they pretty much can kiss goodbye to the increase. You are right that the planet is not all in Glasgow, and it’s just one club that imploded, but some clubs are more important than the others. Remove Real Madrid or Barcelona from La Liga for four years, and La Liga, which is in a much better league than SPL, will suffer.

  23. I misunderstood your comment which made more sense when read with the article. I think the trio had to send something in if they wanted to reject a Rangers reboot contract. If they’ve not sent that in or have even shown up for camp — I don’t know — then it’s academic for now.

    If they’re in a position to move Boca is too old and in need of high level competition to stay and wait it out. He’ll be retired when they return to SPL and the level he needs. Edu is younger but needs a high level of play also, I’d suggest leaving. Bedoya, in contrast, is a marginal international player in need of a break, young enough to have time to burn. He might consider staying because he might suddenly get played and develop — this could be an opportunity SPL-level Rangers could never offer — but he is quality enough where he might also leave.

  24. distantly similar (if that makes any sense) to Wimbledon FC moving to Milton Keynes a few years ago, and a “new” Wimbledon FC being forced to start in the lower divisions in the UK. A new club is a new club, but Rangers obviously had few friends amongst the voting clubs … dropping them down one level probably would’ve better served the SPL and Scottish football, but “rules is rules” I guess. Hope that the players find new homes quickly …

  25. Which innocent fans? Celtic fans? Ha, they’ll laugh to the bank. Other SPL teams, including 1 additional team at Rangers’ expense? Their fans’ll like being one step closer to success. Between that and morality is why 90+% of teams dumped them out. Their fans aren’t crying.

    So are we talking about Rangers fans? Should that override what their own team did? Europhiles abroad? I mean, Rangers are above punishment because it will irk soccer nerds used to the Old Firm rotating?

    This is like right up there with “but what about the kids.” Well, what?

  26. Also, (a) I believe the SPL and then the SFL expressed their feelings on the matter by dumping New Rangers to the SFL and in turn the 3rd division. And (b) considering part of the issue is whether Rangers spent itself into bankruptcy to be part of the Glasgow monopoly over the SPL, the other teams might appreciate a more open, honest competition.

    Granted, it may just be a line of Celtics in the record books for a few years now, but in terms of competitive integrity, it’s a fair penalty for Old Rangers, and only an appropriate reboot for New Rangers, however you look at it.

    The new Manchester and Wimbledon teams didn’t get a free pass to their premiership.

  27. That’s funny because half the reason Rangers became a cause celebre as they went into administration is they weren’t necessarily paying their own players or paying opposing teams their full share of gate receipts in prompt fashion.

    The TV deal is still in effect and has previously benefitted Rangers while in the SPL, but didn’t save them from the taxman and liquidation. Now some other team gets the benefit of being SPL. If the TV rights holders wanna try force majeure they can see if a court will believe them trying to say with a straight face that it would not be an assumed risk after Gretna that a Scottish team might financially implode and disappear. Good luck with that.

    Ditto sponsors. 9 weeks from every 11 the sponsors were on show for Aberdeen or the like, not Rangers or Celtic. The planet is not all in Glasgow. FWIW, team sponsors sign up at least nominally for their team, not the other guy’s. And TV sponsors, well, if they want to risk their spot in the pecking order (for when Rangers inevitably re-emerges) or their appreciation from the Scottish people (who might respond poorly to a public sponsorship divorce), again, good luck with that. I think a lot of Scotland would take umbrage against being taken for granted just because one team from Glasgow implodes.

    But carry on about how the other teams need them for their own financial good?

  28. No, SPL has only one Champion’s league spot. There’s not much intigue left for that one – Motherwell finished 31 points behind Celtic last season and they were the best of the remaining teams.

  29. its not good, there is no doubt, but I think it remains to be seen if the doomsday predictions are close to accurate. Let’s be honest, Scottish football is a joke, regardless of whetherRangers are in the Premiership; at least now many small clubs across the country will have a chance at a regular big payday for the next few years, the financial deals in place for the SPL traditionally heavily favor the old firm clubs to the exclusion of everyone else.

  30. No. They had an opportunity to continue in the Scottish Premier League if they would have got a majority vote from the other SPL teams…they didn’t.

    And this begs the question. Why are you punishing the fans and the players for the misdeeds of the owners? This doesn’t make sense. Someone needs to be punished, but you can only ban the former owner from football and he laughs all the way to the bank after extracting as much money out of the Rangers as he could get away with.So instead, you demote one of the most storied teams in the UK to play pro-am ball for several seasons, hurting the players, the fans throughout the SPL and more importantly Scottish football itself.

    This is a story of financial misfeasance by the former owner of the Rangers and he was aided and abetted by the SPL as his misdeeds were ignored when first exposed. The SPL need to put in more stringent financial controls over it’s ownership, but instead the seem to punish with vengeance, the players and the fans of Scottish football.

  31. Technically you are right, they emerged from the administration (bankruptcy) as a new legal entity, but it does not solve the real problem. If it is simply a matter of the corporate structure, as you appear to suggest, what’s all the fuss is about? Is it really a brand new club, with no history, no thousands of devoted fans, no players that ever laced their cleats for the club, no rivalries and no prior achievments? Is placing the club in the 4th tier of Scottish soccer good for the players (many of whom play for their respective national teams), thousands of fans, sponsors, TV rights, etc? Is it really good for the Scottish soccer to turn into a one team league? Motherwell, the club that finished 3rd behind Rangers and Celtic last season, finished 31 points behind Celtic. Do you seriously expect the likes of Motherwell will be able to challenge Celtic for the next four years? Will the Rangers fans be excited to pay for the season tickets that give them the privilege for witnessing games against the 4th tier teams which largely consist of technically deficient, overweight and out of shape players? What if the Rangers say, we’ve had enough of this nonsense, and move to the English leagues?


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