Rangers Football Club Plc was dropped to the fourth tier of Scottish soccer in a vote of Scottish Football League clubs today.
The 30 teams in the SFL, which oversees the three divisions below the Scottish Premier League, voted at a meeting today in Glasgow to have the reformed Rangers club start at the lowest level. The club went into liquidation last month.
“Today’s decision has been one of the most difficult for all concerned, but it has been taken in the best interests of sporting fairness which is the fundamental principle of the Scottish Football League,” the league said in a statement on its website.
SFL Chief Executive David Longmuir said at a televised news conference that 25 of the 30 clubs voted for Rangers to join the Third Division.
The clubs had been asked to consider letting Rangers into its top division in return for a 1 million-pound ($1.56 million) payment from the Premier League for television rights, end-of-season promotion playoffs and league reconstruction.
The 54-time Scottish champion went into liquidation after U.K. tax authorities rejected a plan to allow the club to avoid bankruptcy. The Glasgow-based club said in a statement on its website the Premier League has talked of creating its own second tier that Rangers would be invited to join.
“It was mooted last week that plans for an SPL2 would swing into action in the event of today’s outcome, but it is not known if this will be the case,” according to the statement.
Manager Ally McCoist told the club’s website this month that playing in the Third Division might give the club a better chance of rebuilding after 10 players refused to join the new company that Charles Green formed to buy the club’s assets for 5.5 million pounds.
The club was put into administration on Feb. 14 by previous owner Craig Whyte, who owed HM Revenue & Customs and other creditors more than 134 million pounds, including potentially more than 93 million pounds to tax collectors. The tax authorities rejected a proposal for creditors to receive a total of 8.5 million pounds as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement to let Rangers exit administration.
Whyte bought an 85 percent stake in Rangers last year from David Murray for 1 pound, in return for repaying 18 million pounds of loans to Lloyds Banking Group Plc.
Scottish soccer would “wither on the vine” if Rangers wasn’t allowed to join the SFL’s top division, Scottish Football Association Chief Executive Stewart Regan said on July 4. Clubs in the Premier League may face losses of 15.7 million pounds if Rangers was not admitted to the top division of the Football League.