SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE (SPL) clubs will vote on Wednesday, July 4 on whether to allow a ‘newco’ Rangers to keep the 140-year-old Glasgow giants’ place in the top flight, it was announced Monday.
Only then, just a month before the season starts, will matches for the new campaign be finalised after cash-strapped Rangers were omitted from the SPL fixture list annnounced earlier Monday, with their place taken by an as yet-to-be decided ‘Club 12′.
Rangers were docked 10 points for entering administration last season, a decision that helped arch-rivals Celtic win the SPL title.
Last week a consortium led by English businessman Charles Green took over the club by creating a new company to run its business.
Green had hoped to persuade creditors to agree to a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) — where creditors are offered a percentage of total monies owed — thereby allowing debt-laden Rangers to exit administration.
However, British tax officials — chasing debts of more than £21 million ($32.6m) — refused to accept that proposal, forcing Green to form the new company.
If Rangers do become ‘Club 12′ they will be away to Kilmarnock on August 4. If not, their place will be taken by either relegated Dunfermline or First Division runners-up Dundee.
Should Rangers remain in the SPL, the first Glasgow derby of the season will be at Parkhead on September 22, with another, at Ibrox, on Boxing Day.
If Rangers are not accepted into the SPL, they will have to apply to enter the bottom tier of the Scottish league.
Meanwhile, the potential implications for the rest of Scottish football’s top flight are enormous.
Celtic and Rangers, the Old Firm, are the two best-supported clubs in the league and their away games often produce the biggest crowds, and therefore ticket income, for the remaining SPL teams.
Their rivalry is also at the heart of commercial SPL broadcasting contracts, so for one or other of the Glasgow duo to no longer be in the top flight could have a massive impact.
British tax authorities forced Rangers into administration on February 14 after the club failed to pay millions of pounds in taxes due following the takeover by Craig Whyte in May last year.
Rangers could also face an additional tax bill of up to £75million over their use of Employee Benefit Trust payments to players and staff between 2001 and 2010, which were the subject of a tax tribunal in January.
This scheme, which was administered by the company of former owner Sir David Murray, who sold the club to Whyte, under whom Rangers went into administration before Green’s takeover, has also been the focus of an SPL investigation into alleged undisclosed payments to players.
And Monday’s SPL statement added: “The investigation has now been completed and, in the view of the SPL, there is a prima facie case to answer in respect of its Rules.”
A Rangers spokesperson, responding to the SPL statement, said: “We note the announcement from the SPL.
“It is disappointing we have received no formal notification of this to date beyond a media statement.”
Last month, Rangers won their court battle against a transfer embargo imposed by the Scottish Football Association (SFA).
The SFA’s disciplinary panel last month imposed a 12-month ban that stopped Rangers registering players aged 18 and over, but a judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the panel acted outside of their powers.
Celtic begin the defence of their title at home to Aberdeen on August 4.