Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson gave what passes as an unusually honest and frank interview to BBC Radio Scotland before his team beat champions, Celtic, this afternoon. Thompson represents one of the four SPL clubs on the league board who, unless the entire league agrees to change their constitution, will vote on whether a Newco will inherit the void when Rangers die next week.
I’m pretty sure Thompson’s mind was made up weeks ago, he clearly planned to vote Newco into the league, despite misplaced brinksmanship, but he’s been spooked by pressure from his own fans talking about boycotting games if he votes Newco in.
Here’s the dilemma. Gang of 10 clubs have pushed a mantra for years that they have been exploited by a Glasgow duopoly (although clearly they use less accurate phraseology). They complain about “the Glasgow media” and, don’t laugh, referee favouring the “Old Firm”.
Now, if he votes for Newco, he makes a lie of all of this. The power to change one of the key concerns for fans of provincial clubs lies in the collective hands of their chairmen. Can they really pass this up?
It’s decision time. Since Celtic Quick News first raised the alarm on this issue in October last year we predicted that only Celtic would vote against Newco. We are about to find out if we have 12 independent teams in the SPL or 11 Rangers supporters – and if they change the rules to give support to Rangers, this is exactly what they are.
I had a bit of sympathy for Thompson, a first for me. He spoke about the money going into United causing issues in his family and the consequences of losing circa £1m per year in a league without Rangers. Some harsh decisions ahead, if he does the right thing, but the alternative, voting for Newco and having Dundee United fans walk out on the club at the betrayal, gives him what he called a “lose-lose” situation.
I was delighted to hear this. He claimed to be undecided, but at least he is a man who now understands there are huge consequences if he votes for Newco. There are three potential financial hits if he does: some United fans will turn away from the game, Celtic fans will boycott next season and even Rangers fans have threatened to boycott if Newco is subject to penalties associated with their terminal football team. The combined cost of this may be less than £1m but not by much.
There are two extra points for Mr Thompson to consider:
Without Newco in the SPL he and he the Gang of 10 can breeze through their future-revenue-changing plan to alter the voting structure, which should help fill any shortfall. It would be humiliating if they had the chance to deliver what they wanted long-term but couldn’t pass up a chance to help the Rangers.
Also, this is not the end of the road for the terminal football club. Any Newco inheriting Rangers SPL share will also inherit the punishment for the alleged improper Registration of football players for a decade or more. The only appropriate penalty for this would be expulsion from the league.
It’s perhaps best to man up and take the trash out now.
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