Would Rangers and the fans accept an SPL2?

Posted by John Gow

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesRangers CEO Charles Green, far right, has not been afraid to hide his displeasure with the SPL.

In my last article, I looked at reasons why the Scottish Premier League (SPL) might be interested in inviting Rangers into an SPL2. Whether this will happen is pure conjecture, but it's an interesting topic to explore. If, as I suspect, the SPL wants the finances that come with Rangers in the league, then although improbable in the present climate, it's not an impossible prospect.

So what would need to happen for this to come about and how would Rangers FC and the fans react?

Firstly, it all depends on how strong the relationship is between Rangers and the Scottish Football League (SFL). If the SFL clubs have genuinely decided on unity, and the Gers are completely on-board with that project, then there is probably little the SPL can do to prise them apart.

However, if an SPL2 looks likely and the top SFL clubs break away, then Rangers would be in a dilemma on whether to join or not. Even then an immediate acceptance would rely on two things from the SPL: the terms of the invitation and the decision of the SPL Commission.

The invitation itself would need to be more than just a simple open door. The Ibrox club would have to be assured of making the same amount of money from advertising and media contracts that their inclusion would create. Anything less than that would almost certainly be declined.

Also, if the SPL under the guise of Lord Nimmo-Smith gives more than a 'slap on the wrist' in the investigation, then we can kiss goodbye to Rangers ever accepting to rejoin the SPL in its current format. It's doubtful many would disagree with that.

But if the SFL was breaking apart and the decision from the SPL Commission was acceptable and they were offering financial equality, then the club would have a serious decision to make. Rangers' CEO Charles Green has previously said that he, "...can't make up [with the SPL]. If the Rangers fans can make up, get on with it. But Charles Green will never forget what the SPL has done and that's why I am against going back where we were told we weren't wanted."

There is a bit of playing to the gallery here, but I believe Green meant what he said at the time. His personal and professional pride has been injured by the behaviour of the SPL and that's not something easily forgotten. However, if the SFL was disintegrating and the SPL backed down, then there's no doubt in my mind the Gers' board would be tempted. They are first and foremost businessmen.

This just leaves the Rangers fans, and this is the toughest nut to crack for anyone who wishes to see the relationship between the Premier League and the Light Blues healed. Rightly or wrongly, the fans at Ibrox don't want anything to do with the SPL in its current format.

There is a feeling of injustice and a perception that the football body went out of its way to do the maximum damage to Rangers, just at the moment the club was weakest and needed solidarity. This view is backed in my interview with Graeme Barr, the vice-Chairman of the Rangers Supporters Trust and is one that will not go away. For this reason alone Rangers in an SPL2 is unlikely.

If the SPL are totally fine without the Light Blues then they hold all the cards and should do nothing. But if they need Rangers back in the fold to avoid financial disaster their biggest obstacle is a support who now see them, and not Celtic, as their main sporting rival.


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