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SBD Global/July 9, 2012/Franchises

New Divisions Appear As Rangers Await Verdict On Their Fate

The Scottish Football League’s Board is "facing a rebellion by member clubs" after it was revealed that the board itself "wants to make the final decision" on whether Rangers should play in the First or Third Division next season, according to Martin Hannan of the SCOTSMAN. If the Rangers are voted in during a July 13 meeting, the board will "want to use the issue of their admission to either the First or Third Division to wring some major concessions" out of the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Premier League. Only then would the board decide whether Rangers start in the First Division -- "as senior figures in the game have pushed for" -- or the lowest tier, "as is the wish" of Rangers Manager Ally McCoist, most Rangers fans, and the supporters of many clubs in Scotland. SFA CEO Stewart Regan said the issue of where Rangers would play was a “ticking time bomb.” He added that no progress could be made on other issues "until the club’s future was sorted." Before the SFL board’s "dramatic intervention," there was "a clear majority" of SFL teams who wanted Rangers to go to the Third Division. An SFL club director, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “All the talk is of financial armageddon and the game losing £16M ($25M), but Rangers aren’t being lost to the game, they are simply having to start again as all newco clubs should have to do. The board are in for a huge shock if they think this idea of them having the final say will just be nodded through on Friday" (SCOTSMAN, 7/8).

BROADCAST PRESSURE: In N.Y., Rob Hughes reported that players on the Rangers' multinational squad are being "advised that they do not need to regard as binding the contracts that were taken over by the new Rangers' consortium." Those players include three Americans -- Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya. The Americans "are important because broadcaster FOX acquired the U.S. TV rights to the SPL in March." FOX will say only that it is "evaluating its options." However, it is clear that a Scottish league without the Old Firm -- the historically dominant Rangers-Celtic match-up -- "is not what FOX and other broadcasters signed up for." The feeling is that TV companies would "tolerate one year, but not more," without the Rangers. With that in mind, the 30 lower-division clubs "are being pressured" to allow the Rangers to parachute into the First Division of the SFL (N.Y. TIMES, 7/5).
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