Scottish football needs to learn from Rangers

Fallen giants' triple demotion is right, says Craig Anderson – now let teams learn from this situation, and stop relying on money yet to be made

In a week that saw Rangers demoted to Division Three for their liquidation and financial misdemeanours, the SPL has made more U-turns than a confused driver on a retail park.

After the top flight voted them out, the fallen Glasgow giants have been voted into the SFL’s Third Division, the country's fourth tier. However, it seems the rest of the SPL were under the impression that the newco were going to be allowed into Division One – the second tier.

Panic is now setting in among at least five other top-flight teams at the realisation that the Gers won't be back in the SPL after a mere year.

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour said at the weekend that five clubs could be set for administration “within weeks” if Rangers are to proceed in Division Three, with talk that Sky and ESPN could be set to renegotiate their TV deals on the back of the SFL’s vote.

Gilmour claimed his own club, as well as Motherwell, Dundee United, Inverness Caley Thistle and Kilmarnock, could be plunged into administration if money from the TV companies – thought to be around £650,000 due to be paid in early August – might not be forthcoming.

Stewart Gilmour: nervous

While it would be terrible that any clubs face that kind of financial pressure, what does it say about the reality of many teams' financial management? There's no argument that Rangers' absence from the SPL means clubs take a hit, but to be so reliant on future income is a bad case of putting all your financial eggs in one basket.

It seems that the SPL sides voting Ally McCoist’s side out were relying on the SFL to "do the right thing" and put Rangers into Division One, the quicker to bring their revenue-generation back to the top flight. It's an assumption that smacks of naivety, even more so considering clubs throughout the SFL had publicly indicated prior to Friday's meeting that they would vote to put the Gers into Division Three.

As for the position of the SFA, whose chief executive Stewart Regan had made no secret of the preferred option of having Rangers in the second tier, his role in this has been highly questionable.

Especially when a tabloid paper revealed an email sent by Regan ordered secret meetings between newco owner Charles Green and the SFA vice-president (and Hibs chairman) Rod Petrie to keep Green in the loop from the governing body’s perspective, confident the Ibrox side would be admitted into the First Division.

A 25-5 vote for the Gers to start from the bottom comprehensively scuppered those plans – and a vote of no confidence against beleaguered SFA chief Regan was motioned, although it was stopped in its tracks by Airdrie chairman Jim Ballantyne, who combines his SFL presidency with serving on the SFA board.

Stewart Regan: nervous

The summer of discontent continues, but surely it’s the ideal time for Scottish football to enter a transitional phase and start to learn how to live within their means. The SPL clubs can learn a lesson from the SFL outfits; the teams in the lower three leagues have managed without the Old Firm and TV money for long enough.

There was a time when Scottish football was one big happy family, with sponsorship money divided proportionally. No one worried about what the Old Firm were bringing in, let alone what Sky TV were thinking about paying for coverage.

Then the top clubs got greedy and broke away, kickstarting arguably the worst period in Scottish football history. Put it this way: since the SPL formed in 1998 we’ve seen five clubs all go into administration, all of whom were playing in the top flight at the time.

That’s not to blame the SPL for those clubs' financial peril, but it’s no longer a coincidence that this is happening and if any good can come from this, it’s that realisation dawns and Scottish football can get together to face its problems.

Ultimately, no one wants to see more clubs enter administration or go to the wall, but for the game to recover there’s likely to be collateral damage. If there is, then so be it and let it rest on the heads of the custodians.

What those in charge fail to see in the long term is that some good can come of this. Clubs can use the lesson of Rangers to see what overspending can do, especially in such a meagre financial climate.

However, at this moment in time, it seems too far away to even get remotely excited about.