RANGERS’ HOPES OF being allowed to play in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) next season appear dead in the water after a fifth club confirmed that they will vote against the proposal.
Aberdeen joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibernian in publicly announcing their opposition to a ‘newco’ Rangers being admitted to the SPL.
Rangers require an 8-4 majority for the ‘newco’ — the new company formed after the original club went into liquidation earlier this month — to be included in the top flight next season when all SPL clubs vote on the issue at a general meeting on July 4.
Rangers themselves are allowed to vote but they needed seven others to vote in their favour and now require a u-turn from someone for that to happen.
“Traditionally we have preferred not to make public our voting intentions, but in light of the level of interest and the fact other clubs have chosen to show their hand, on this occasion I can confirm it is our intention to oppose readmission to the SPL for any Rangers NewCo,” said Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne in a statement.
The vacancy in Scotland’s top flight could instead be taken by either relegated Dunfermline or First Division runners-up Dundee.
Meanwhile, the owner of the ‘newco’ Rangers, Charles Green, is now likely to apply to the Scottish Football League (SFL) in a bid to join the lower divisions.
Elsewhere on another turbulent day for the fallen Glasgow giants, prosecutors ordered police to open a criminal investigation into the takeover of the club by Craig Whyte in May 2011.
Businessman Whyte bought an 85% shareholding in Rangers for £1 from previous owner Sir David Murray and made several pledges in terms of future investment and paying off the club’s bank debt.
However, Rangers went into administration on February 14 this year following court action from UK tax officials and were consigned to liquidation earlier this month.
A statement by the Crown Office public prosecutors read: “The Crown Office has today instructed Strathclyde Police to conduct a criminal investigation into the acquisition of Rangers Football Club in May 2011 and the subsequent financial management of the club.
“The investigation into alleged criminality follows a preliminary police examination of information passed to them in February this year by the club administrators.”
Immediately after being appointed, the club’s administrators announced that Rangers had failed to pay about £9 million ($14m) in tax since Whyte’s takeover.
They also revealed that the club had paid off a debt to Lloyds Banking Group from a £24.4million ($38m) capital injection from investment firm Ticketus, which was secured on the back of future season ticket sales.
The tax debt was most recently listed at more than £21 million ($32.7m).
On Sunday, Scottish international duo Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker confirmed they will walk away from the club, despite Green’s attempts to switch their contracts from the liquidated Rangers to his new company.
Other players are expected to do the same rather than continue their careers in the lower divisions.