RANGERS ARE WELCOME TO JOIN THE QUEUE FOR DIVISON THREE SAYS SFA CHIEF - Reports the Daily Record
LAST time David Longmuir had to welcome a new club into the SFL it involved checking out the credentials of Cove Rangers.
Now, just four years on, he’s faced with the prospect of visiting Ibrox and weighing up what Glasgow Rangers have to offer.
Ally McCoist admitted for the first time on Tuesday he could now be in favour of the SPL giants dropping down to the Third Division.
Whether his crisis-hit club emerge from administration – or suffer liquidation – the Ibrox gaffer sees it as a viable option following the heavy sanctions imposed on them by the SFA this week. Longmuir doesn’t want to get too excited about the possibility of Rangers applying to join the SFL.
But the chief executive can’t help wonder what it would be like to have to evaluate their UEFA five-star stadium, instead of Cove’s tiny Allan Park.
In 2008 when Gretna went bust the SFL needed a new member, with eventual victors Annan beating competition from Preston Athletic, Spartans and Cove for the vacant spot.
And Longmuir told Gers fans last night that if their club – irrespective of status and history – apply for membership, they’ll go through the same process as any outfit in the country.
He told Record Sport: “If Rangers or anyone else applied for entry into the SFL they would have to go through the same process as Annan, Spartans FC, Preston Athletic and Cove Rangers did four years ago.
“They would have to put a proposal to us on why they should be allowed in and then hope they were voted in by the SFL clubs.
“At the moment it’s difficult for me to comment on Rangers’ situation. But anything that brought excitement and freshness to the SFL would be something I’m interested in.
“It would be the same process, given any set of circumstances. When Annan were welcomed in the process took a couple of months during the close season. In the past we’ve had to assess the likes of Annan, Cove and Preston on the basis of ground criteria, facilities and financial stability.
“So checks have to be done, which would obviously be a bit different if Rangers were involved.
“However, at the moment there is no vacancy in the SFL. Rangers are in administration, which is a situation other clubs have found themselves in and survived.
“The same could happen to Rangers. As a Scottish football supporter, I hope they do.”
Longmuir is well aware of the financial benefits a newco Rangers could bring to the SFL should they apply for entry on the back of liquidation.
And while he’s reluctant to offer an open invitation to the Ibrox club he did assure their fans it IS possible to one day start again in the lower echelons of Scottish football.
Longmuir said: “Currently, the SFL don’t have a vacancy. The issue Rangers are facing is an SPL matter because they’re a top-flight club.
“If things change we would follow a tried and tested process, which we’ve always done.
“If a vacancy arose in the SFL, for whatever reason, we would open up an application process for clubs. We did the same when Gretna went into liquidation.
“A vacancy was opened up in the Third Division and we went through an application process, which allowed a new club to join.
“The 29 member clubs of the SFL would be asked to vote on who they wished to bring in to the Third Division.
“It’s based on a lot of criteria and the last time it was Annan Athletic who were successful.
“So of course it is possible for Rangers to play in the Third Division. They only need to look at recent history to see how the process works.
“I know there has been a lot of talk about this but Rangers are still an SPL club. I believe the SPL and SFA still have a role to play in their survival.”
The main beneficiaries of Gretna’s liquidation in 2008 were Annan, whose proposal was accepted by the SFL, and the club are now thriving in the Third Division.
Galabank boss Harry Cairney accepts if Ally McCoist’s side did drop down the leagues it would be near impossible for rival teams to challenge for the title.
But he also believes the novelty of Rangers in the bottom tier of Scottish football – as well as ensuring bumper gates for the minnows – could be a good thing for the game.
Cairney said: “Rangers in the Third Division would limit the chances of a club like Annan winning the championship. But financially it would guarantee us two great home gates. That would be a big plus for our budget.
“No one has really viewed the possibility of Rangers being in the SFL but I can see the logic and merit in it for them. It would make sense on a lot of levels.
“I just wonder how their fans would cope with seeing their team, which has such a grand history, experiencing this level of football.
“I think the SPL would want to keep Rangers in the top flight but after the penalties dished out by the SFA this week maybe the club is thinking it’s the way forward to drop down.
“Because of the penalties imposed on them, Rangers aren’t going to win the SPL in the next two or three seasons so why not join the Third Division?
“They would have to apply, of course, so would they get in? The Third Division chairmen would have to vote on it in the same way we were accepted into the SFL.”