Charles Green, chief executive of Rangers newco, courted controversy yesterday by claiming that bigotry was among the motives for his club being denied entry to the Scottish Premier League.
Green spoke before the first match since his Sevco Scotland consortium took control of Rangers, a 2-1 extra-time victory over Brechin City in the Ramsdens Cup. Late in the match Green theatrically joined in the applause from his seat in Glebe Park's main stand as the travelling fans chanted "if you hate Stewart Regan [the chief executive of the SFA] clap your hands".
However it appeared to be supporters of other SPL clubs, who had pressurised their own chairmen to vote against Rangers newco starting in the SPL, who Green was accusing of bigotry. "Some of it has been driven by bigotry, some of its been driven by jealousy and some of its been driven by all the wrong motives," he said. "My frustration's been, after 30 years of business, I have never experienced anything like the last three months. Some of the business decisions that have been made have been nonsensical."
When asked to expand on the bigotry accusation, Green did not do so. Instead he simply pointed to the fact that clubs which had voted against Rangers newco's inclusion in the SPL were now appealing to their fans to make up for the consequent financial loss by buying season tickets. "What's happened with Rangers is absolutely incredible," said Green. "It seems to me the whole of Scotland have wanted to kick this giant club while it was down."
Green also risked angering many other SPL and Scottish Football League club's owners and chairmen by predicting that they were in such dire financial trouble that league reconstruction soon would be inevitable. "There will be changes at the top level this year because some of the clubs up there are really, really going to struggle financially with their current debt.
"These companies all file accounts, we can all see where they are in terms of their positions with the banks. We've not got the debt that any of these clubs have. And, on the last day of the season, I would really enjoy some clever financial analyst looking at the balance sheets and debt-to-equity ratio of every club in Scotland.
"We're now in a clear position where we can rebuild this [Rangers]. We're seeing from the reaction of fans today there is now a warming and changing attitude towards us. What we have done is deliver on what we've promised."
Green's challenging attitude was echoed by the newco chairman Malcolm Murray. "We'll be back at the highest level and I don't think it will be as long as many cynics say," he said. "We're giving the fans what they deserve. If they turn up, these players will be paid for quite easily. All of Europe is suffering under a debt burden: football too. Industry and football will be reconstructed. I can't predict the timing but we're ready with a strong balance sheet and a squad that can play at almost any level."
Ian Black is the club's first new signing and they are in talks with former Greek internationalist Pantelis Kafes, a free agent, and Northern Irish internationalist Dean Shiels. Manager Ally McCoist has spoken to both players and claimed that they were enthusiastic about signing. "The players we are attempting to target are players our fans deserve to see," he said. "The first thing we have to do is win the league but it would be nice to do it with style."
Meanwhile, Alejandro Bedoya is likely to sign for Helsingborg. Maurice Edu missed the Brechin tie with a groin strain.
McCoist praised his players for winning yesterday despite a lack of pre-season preparation and doubts that the tie would go ahead as the club awaited SFA membership. "We've got to be pleased."