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Charles Green: Rangers should leave Scottish football

Rangers should leave Scottish football if the current plans to reform the leagues go ahead, chief executive Charles Green said today.

The Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League yesterday agreed in principle to a restructuring plan that would see the organisations merge in a 12-12-18 structure.

If the new format was rubber-stamped for next season, Irn-Bru Third Division leaders Rangers would remain in the bottom tier of Scottish football regardless of any title success this term, albeit with the potential time frame for a return to the top-flight remaining the same.

Green told RangersTV: "I haven't read anything other than what is in the press and if that is what we have sat here eagerly awaiting to transform Scottish football, my advice to the board of Rangers is the quicker we can leave Scottish football the better.

"I can't see anything that is going to transform the finances, the status or the excitement."

Graham Spiers' view: Charles Green is a bull in a china shop

The SPL needs an 11-1 majority among its clubs but the idea has already been informally approved by all 12.

The SFL needs 22 of its clubs to back the plans, with a 16-10-16 plan previously being agreed unanimously by the 30 clubs.

Rangers, as associate members of the SFL, will not have a vote on the issue and yesterday expressed their unhappiness at not being invited to participate in the talks.

The article on the club's website, written by new director of communications James Traynor, also described the reconstruction plans as an "abomination".

According to Green, the remainder of Rangers' season will be rendered meaningless if the proposals are accepted.

He said: "If this does happen what is the point of us finishing the season?

"Why should we send players out to get broken noses - like Ross Perry last week - or have players getting surgery when no-one can get promoted and no-one can get relegated.

"We might as well have a winter break now 'til next August. I can't see any point in carrying on with meaningless matches.

"In what league do you win a division and then end up playing the same teams again the following season? There is no meaning to it, in reality."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell admits new league reconstruction plans are not perfect but believes they are the best option available for Scottish football.

Lawwell said: "We, as a club, support it. It's not perfect but it's the best available. I don't think you throw out the best in pursuit of the perfect.

"The big key here was that we had unanimity between the SPL clubs a few weeks ago, which was a major achievement and breakthrough in itself.

"I think it will be beneficial to the game, it will make sure there are more meaningful games and hopefully we will get more people through the turnstiles and more sponsorship."

He added: "We've got a meeting on the 28th. I'm a bit short on the detail which went on yesterday as I wasn't at the meeting. But, in principle, we are all in agreement.

"There will be a lot of detail to go through in the next two or three weeks but I've got great expectations that we will get there."

Asked if the new format could be in place for the start of next season, Lawwell said: "I think that's the plan.

"The plan would be, if it is achievable, and everything is agreed, it could go in from next year.

"But you don't want to rush anything if you're going to have a negative effect by getting it in sooner if it's not ready."

Lawwell - speaking as Celtic announced a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Magners - refused to be drawn on Rangers' reaction to the plans.

Meanwhile, outspoken Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton has given his overwhelming backing to the new plans for Scottish football.

Hutton, who has been one of the biggest critics of the SPL and SFA and the way they managed the fall-out of the Rangers crisis, believes common sense has finally broken out.

The Stark's Park chairman claims new plans for a fairer share of money throughout Scotland's 42 senior clubs will also spare his side from the kind of financial peril which has enveloped many of teams north of the border.

He told Press Association Sport: "I'm optimistic. If I had a list of things I'd like to have changed about Scottish football going forward, then I was never a fan of the financial distribution, the fact we had two bodies running our leagues, the boredom of playing each other four times.

"But if I look at what is being proposed now, there are some interesting possibilities.

"Does the financial picture look a lot brighter now? Absolutely.

"Without quoting numbers, the indicative numbers would make one hell of a difference to a club like ours."

Hutton claims strict rules on stadium capacities and under-soil heating may be relaxed, taking another cash burden off of the shoulders of hard-pressed clubs.

"The dawning reality from the SPL is that the criteria for stadiums are going to have to be tempered with some realism.

"That also make a big difference. There has been millions wasted on infrastructure for a bankrupt football set-up just to tick a box on the old SPL check-list."

And as for fans, he believes the plans, which will see the two top leagues of 12 split into three divisions of eight to decide the title and relegation to the following season's second tier, will entice supporters back to games.

"If Rovers make it into that middle league of eight, you won't have to go to an Airdrie, a Cowdenbeath or a Livingston for a third and fourth time," Hutton said.

"You will have the likes of Hearts, Hibs or Aberdeen possibly coming to Stark's Park. That can only excite fans.

"And if you do get promotion, your team will have done it on merit because they will have taken on SPL teams and succeeded."

Meanwhile, Hamilton chairman Les Gray insists that the share of money and governance of the new set-up is more important than the make-up of the leagues.

He told Press Association Sport: "I'm very supportive of the new plans.

"Everyone knows my position. I'm an advocate of protecting full-time Scottish football and in the past I have been one of the voices calling for an SPL2.

"I openly admitted to being one of the five SFL chairmen who voted for Rangers to be admitted to the First Division in the summer because I was looking at the bigger picture; I was looking at a better distribution model and a better governance.

"For me, if you have a better spread of money and better governance, then the number of teams you play isn't as significant as some people think."

SPL clubs are understood to be willing to forego a seven-figure sum each-year to placate their lower-league partners.

And Gray insists that money will go a long way to soothing the strains SFL teams currently face.

He said: "Teams winning the SPL receive £3million or £4million, whereas Dunfermline in 12th last season got £800,000. But for winning the First Division, Ross County were handed just £60,000.

"That's too big a gap.

"The new set-up will change that significantly.

"(SFA chief executive) Stewart Regan has called these plans a new dawn for the game but that's for him to say. But we do need change. Fans are turning away in their droves.

"We need to freshen things up, to make it more exciting. If more promotion and relegation and play-off games do that, then it can't be a bad thing."

The SFL will put the plans to its clubs later this month, with 22 of the 29 full members needing to give their formal approval. Rangers, as associate members, do not have voting rights.

Dundee United cautioned that they were not yet in a position to fully back the plans.

Chairman Stephen Thompson said: "A few months ago, we agreed for a working group from the SPL to discuss plans for taking the game forward with the SFL and to produce detailed proposals for consideration.

"These discussions have been ongoing but, as yet, we have not had sight of the detailed proposals.

"Like most supporters, our view is that the game in Scotland needs freshened up in some way.

"While we appreciate there may not be a perfect solution which suits all, there has to be a balance between a better, more competitive product on the pitch, more excitement and season long interest for fans and sponsors, and the need to ensure that club finances are not impaired unduly.

"Until we see the detail of the proposals we cannot, at this stage, comment on them.

"We remain as a board of directors open minded to change and look forward to discussing the detailed proposals in early course."

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