The chairman of Charles Green's newco Rangers last night warned the 11 other top-flight clubs that failing to let them take the old club's place in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) would be tantamount to signing a "suicide pact".
Malcolm Murray, an Ayrshire businessman and lifelong Rangers fan, was part of a consortium which took control of the Ibrox club's assets upon liquidation on Thursday, but his next challenge is finding a league in which to play.
The Green group – which faces a rival bid from a consortium which includes former Rangers legend Walter Smith, Clyde Blowers supremo Jim McColl and motoring magnate Douglas Park – is expected to formally apply to transfer the league share from oldco Rangers to the new company tomorrow.
Loading article content
Making application to the SPL will trigger a 14-day notice period after which the 12 SPL clubs will meet to decide whether to admit the newco, most likely on July 2. The opposition of five SPL clubs would be enough to scupper Green's efforts, while any application for membership also requires the assent of the Scottish Football Association (SFA).
Indications last night were that the newco Rangers would struggle to get the requisite number of votes, and a compromise could be reached whereby Rangers are relegated to the first division of a newly merged SPL and Scottish Football League (SFL), rather than having to painstakingly work their way up from the bottom of the third division.
Such a move would allow clubs to appease disgruntled fans, alleviate broadcasters' fears over lack of Old Firm matches, and consequently allow clubs to keep a greater share of the recently negotiated £80 million five-year TV deal.
"I feel it has all become a bit emotional," Murray, 57, said. "It's like the French Revolution where people are demanding heads be cut off anyone involved in Rangers even though 99.9% are innocent.
"This shouldn't be about revenge. Further extreme punishment would be an emotional reaction. There is no point in killing the patient while he's trying to recover. Do that and the whole ward dies. It would be like a mass suicide pact and that doesn't make any sense.
"Bitterness isn't good and hopefully people will look at compromise because it won't help any other club if there is less revenue. There comes a point when there has been a traumatic change that you have to get together and stop fighting.
"I would prefer Rangers to be in the SPL which would be the healthiest option for everyone concerned," he added. "I don't know any details about possible reconstruction so I can't comment on that. I have had one very brief meeting with the SFA but I hope to talk about the issues next week and get some clarity."
Murray also admitted to feeling "sidelined" by the publicity surrounding Smith and McColl.
The Sunday Herald understands that a bid in the region of £6m was submitted by the Smith/McColl/Park consortium to the club's administrators Duff & Phelps.
Although Murray has had no contact with Smith, he spent yesterday morning speaking with Ally McCoist, the man who – for the time being – remains the club's manager. Murray claims McCoist is committed to continuing, and hopes to sit down with Smith's backers in the next 24 hours. So far, the Smith consortium has urged the club's fans not to buy season tickets for next season.
"Ally is committed to continuing and agrees that anyone interested in this club should stand together with us," Murray said. "He has told Charles and myself that he is staying and that is a massive bridge between us and others. No sponsors or season tickets and talk of marches is obviously a concern but that would seem to me an absurd way of getting control. We have asked for a sit-down meeting."
Murray urged other investors to come on board, and said he was unsure whether they would accept the 12-month transfer embargo, adding that he would consider back-dated payments for players who took pay cuts during last season.
However, the likely outcome is a deal between Green's consortium and that of Smith, but possibly not before some big decisions are made. "I wouldn't like to predict what this week will bring but hopefully we can see light at the end of the tunnel," Murray said.