Scottish football is posed for the most momentous stand-off in its history. The battle lines are clear:
Money v Morals, TV money v Season ticket money, Bank of Scotland v Fans
In 12 days the SPL clubs will vote on resolutions which will enable a new club to parachute straight into the SPL following the liquidation of Rangers without having to apply for entry to the Scottish Football league and rise through the pyramid. Five clubs can block their entry – for a few days anyway. Six, a majority if one member is liquidated, would be enough to ensure Rangers Newco SPL entry is blocked.
According to the SPL Fan Survey fans would overwhelmingly like to see any Newco football club enter the Scottish Football League, a position supported by a large number of Rangers fans, but the voices of fans are more easily discarded than that of the Bank of Scotland, who a large number of clubs depend upon to keep their own clubs out of administration.
In short, unless clubs can demonstrate to the Bank of Scotland that they will lose more money from disaffected fans by voting for Newco than they will by voting to retain the custom of Rangers fans, with accompanying television and sponsor money, Newco FC will be voted into the SPL.
Celtic will vote against Newco but fans from Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Inverness, St Johnstone, Motherwell and St Mirren have to do more to make their case directly with their clubs. Irrespective of fan views, I reckon Dunfermline shareholders would rather relegate their own team than Rangers. Don’t even ask about Kilmarnock.
The Gang of 10 may speak as one. If they get rid of Rangers they will be able to out-vote Celtic and have a unique opportunity to change voting rights, allowing them to capture long-term money currently going to Celtic. This, together with overwhelming fan pressure, might be enough to persuade some, but this issue is more complex.
Despite initial opposition to changing the voting rights, Duff and Phelps may vote with the Gang of 10 on voting rights as part of a deal to allow them to sell a place in the SPL. Yes – trade votes in order to sell a place in the top league. Sporting integrity dismantled forever.
Since we first raised the alarm on this vote back in October I have been convinced Newco would be ushered into the SPL but the weight of opinion from fans from other clubs is stark. Over half of respondents to the Survey say they will not attend SPL games if Newco is voted straight into the league.
Even the Bank of Scotland would have to recognise the business sense in siding with the fans if this view is made firmly enough.
Truth is, no one knows which way this one will go, but this is a once in a century opportunity for fans to make a stand.
Bids for the original canvass painting of Neil Lennon by US based artist, Joseph Gormley, has topped £600! Keep an eye on the auction, which ends tomorrow, here.
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