How Rangers Should Play A Constructive Part In Division 3


So it finally happened.  After weeks of posturing from SPL clubs, and threats from the SFA about league reconstruction, the SFL clubs finally did the right thing and voted Rangers into Division 3 for the 2012/13 season.  That may not be the end of the story, as there is talk that the SFA and SPL, led by two men clinging onto their jobs by their fingernails, Stewart Regan (SFA) and Neil Doncaster (SPL), will still try and get Rangers back into the SPL, or even create and SPL2, in order to get Rangers (and the money the club generates) back into the top flight as soon as possible.

Rangers owner Charles Green and manager Ally McCoist both issued statements backing the decision, accepting that it was the right thing to do, with Green going on to say:

“We wish to play a constructive part in Division Three and encourage our fans to support the other clubs within the league by attending matches and delivering to them the benefits of having Rangers within their league.”

While many Rangers fans still have their doubts about Green’s honesty and suitability for running the club, what he says is true.  Rangers in Division 3 can have a huge financial impact on Scottish football’s smallest clubs, and have the opportunity to win back some good will from clubs who have resented what the domination of Rangers and Celtic in Scottish football has done to the overall quality of the game.

There’s little doubt that Rangers supporters will pack out Division 3 stadiums for their 18 away fixtures, generating the kind of match day revenue that most of the club in the division will never have experienced, unless they have been fortunate enough to get a home draw in the League or Scottish cups against Rangers or Celtic.  Home supports may be swollen too, with fans getting the chance to see their team playing against Rangers when they may actually be able to compete with them.

But there are other ways for Rangers to play a ‘constructive part in Division Three’, and for them to help Scottish football in general as they try to return to the SPL.  Here are a few ideas.

Don’t buy up the league’s best players:

Rangers have always been able to sign the best players from other SPL clubs in the past.  Players like Steven Naismith, Kevin Thomson, Steven Whittaker and Lee Wallace have all joined Rangers from the SPL in recent years (although none of them cheaply), and it’s a constant source of frustration for those clubs that they can’t keep their best players for longer.  Rangers could do the same thing in Division 3, and would be able to buy these players for small fees and low wages.  But it would give them an extra advantage, while weakening the rest of the division, so they should look elsewhere.

Give young Scottish players a second chance:

When Graeme Roberts took over as manager of Clyde, he inherited a club with only 3 players under contract.  He held open trials to try and find new players, and this is something Rangers should look to mimic as they begin life in Division 3.  Dozens of players under 23 will be released by SPL clubs each season, as they aren’t considered good enough for that level.  But they won’t give up on making it in football, and will be hungry to impress.  Getting a trial with Rangers would be a second chance, and give them the opportunity to play in front of big home crowds and show what they can do.

Negotiate a TV deal that benefits everyone:

The biggest attraction for SPL TV rights were the Old Firm matches, which resulted in Rangers and Celtic getting bigger cuts of the money than the rest of the SPL clubs.  That helped to maintain the imbalance of spending power in the SPL, and if a TV deal can be struck for coverage of Rangers in Division 3, that imbalance should be avoided.  Rangers should lead the way in approaching BBC Scotland or STV for the right to show their away matches live, with the money split equally between Rangers and the other 9 teams.  There wouldn’t be big money involved, but it would again give Division 3 clubs extra income on match days when they played Rangers.

These are just a few ways in which Rangers could help Scottish football as they look to return to the SPL.  They could all be repeated in Divisions 1 and 2, and would go a long way to helping Scottish football’s smaller clubs in the short and long term.

For more blogs, follow me on Twitter @DavidWDougan and @TheGlassCase

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