Wicked witch of league reconstruction is dead . . . probably!

Posted by John Gow

The Wizard of Oz song 'Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead' might have raced up the UK music charts for reasons other than love of the munchkins, but it is the type of lyric that could be used by Rangers fans now that league reconstruction has been shelved for next year.

Tom Shaw/Getty ImagesSPL chief Neil Doncaster still won't completely rule out reconstruction.

Well . . . probably! Even after the vote earlier in the month which failed to carry the sufficient amount of 'yes' votes, the Scottish Premier League, Scottish Football Association and Scottish Football League 1 clubs still tried to push it through.

On Monday, however, the SPL met and the chief executive Neil Doncaster said, "There was a view from certain clubs that having got so close [two weeks ago] with only two voting against out of 12, it was worth back to see if anything could be agreed, after all the hard work that had been carried out in the previous few months. After a good discussion, the clubs agreed that time was probably too tight to agree on full league reconstruction before next season, involving a merger. It is now extremely unlikely that that will take place."

Notice that all the Scottish divisions have now been won with only one or two games left, yet the SPL's CEO still cannot completely rule out reconstruction that includes a merger of the SPL and SFL.

It shows an unwillingness to let go, because the truth of some SPL clubs' financial problems can't yet be faced. The outrage over the lack of reconstruction culminated in Aberdeen chairman Stuart Milne saying the no vote could 'seriously damage the game', adding pessimistically that Scottish football "should watch and see what happens in the coming weeks and months." The SPL knows more than it is letting on.

That point could be understandable if there was some absurd change, but Milne, along with the other SPL clubs, were telling everyone only a few months ago that everything was fine as it is. So why the admission now that the status quo will be, for want of a better word, 'Armageddon'?

The truth is that this is all about Rangers leaving the SPL. The Gers, alongside Celtic, is where the fanbase, sponsorship and TV money comes from. This is why the SPL only bowed to the 'no to newco' fanaticism by ensuring that Rangers would only drop to SFL1. They needed the Light Blues to go straight back up again.

When that didn't work, the plan was to merge leagues, so that any TV contracts or sponsorship that required rights to both Rangers and Celtic games could be delivered. This is why there is indecent haste to see change, and why figures such as Milne are panicking and predicting terrible things because it didn't happen.

They thought they could ride the tiger but they couldn't and lost control. The Tiger is now loose and stalking them, and they don't know what to do except scream.

What the SPL should have done is keep Rangers in the SPL, but take all league monies, while deducting 25 points for up to five years. It's likely Charles Green would have jumped at the chance of keeping some TV cash, while the SPL would have more than their usual share. They could have toyed with an emasculated Rangers off the field and enjoyed hammering them on it.

The Ibrox side might never have recovered, because although fans will buy 38,000 season tickets to climb mountains, they would almost certainly not have followed the team in the same numbers while it was held on a leash at the edge of the SPL's garden.

But the SPL blew it in the summer, so the only other option was a merging of the leagues during the season to gain some control again. But they blew that too, and now the wicked witch of league reconstruction is almost certainly dead and Rangers hold destiny in their own hands. Ding Dong!

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