The 2250-word missive, signed by chairman Bill Darroch, tells of the impossible position in which the Scottish Football League clubs find themselves now that their Scottish Premier League counterparts have voted to withhold Rangers' share and brings transparency after days of claim and counter claim over the potential ramifications of a Rangers newco starting life in the third division.
In a comprehensive and forthright explanation, Darroch outlines how:
l Neil Doncaster, the SPL chief executive, told the SFL meeting on Tuesday that putting the newco in the third division would cost the Scottish game £15.7m and end to the £2m settlement agreement the SFL receive from the top-flight clubs.
l Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, claimed the governing body could not countenance a scenario where the newco would be in the third division, given the financial havoc it would wreak.
l Voting to include the newco in the bottom tier would cost Stenhousemuir £50,000 per season, neccessitating the abolition of their youth programme, along with that of many other clubs.
l Not doing as they were directed would lead to a rash of liquidations as well as jeopardising the very future of the SFL.
l Consenting to inserting the newco into the first division could, potentially, lead to increased income.
Yet while those factors mean they will grudgingly vote for the first division option, the Ochilview club are understood to be furious at the aggressive stance taken by the SPL and SFA, who they accuse of attempting to force through their proposals. Yet they concede the alternative is too bleak to consider even given the expected backlash from supporters. Indeed, Herald Sport understands one youth coach has already given notice of intention to resign, so irate is he, but the reality is that his post may have to be made redundant should Stenhousemuir refuse to accept the resolution on offer.
The statement revealed the events of Tuesday's meeting, at which Doncaster offered a breakdown of the £16m figure the initial proposal document suggested would be lost if a newco were to start in the third division. The loss of Sky and ESPN payments would be £10m and £5m respectively per season, with a further £2.7m lost in overseas broadcast rights. Sponsorship would account for a further £1m, although a replacement broadcasting deal would generate £3m, leading to a net loss of £15.7m each year. This would cost each SPL club £1m per season, deprive the top-flight clubs the means to meet the £2m settlement figure paid to the SFL each year and likely leading to administrations.
The impact for Stenhousemuir and clubs of their ilk would be £50,000 per season, meaning the club would have to cut costs. "Given that we have made commitments for this season the playing budget cannot be reduced, therefore, the only option open to us would be in scrapping our youth system to release the pitch for hire to the general public, together with a reduction in staff who oversee our community programme," read the statement, which added that uncertainty over their groundshare agreement with East Stirlingshire would also be considered.
Many other clubs reportedly made similar intimations at the meeting, with some voicing fears of administration, while the SPL clubs were equally concerned by the ramifications of such an outcome. "The impact on the SPL clubs is well documented with a number of them admitting they would move to administration very quickly as their debts to the banks in particular could not be serviced," the statement continued. "Whilst this may be of lesser significance to our supporters, it is reasonable to assume that the standard of player in our game will reduce significantly, leading to further and future erosion of TV contracts and sponsorship. Again, youth development expenditure was seen as an area for cost savings."
However, were the newco to be parachuted into the second tier – be it the first division or a new SPL2 – Sky and ESPN have committed to retaining their deals with additional coverage of Rangers newco matches, although the overseas rights and sponsorship losses would lead to an annual shortfall of £3.7m. Furthermore, the SPL confirmed that the settlement payment would continue and a further £1m would be given to the SFL to buy the broadcast rights for newco games.
This, it was made clear, is the only option the SFA and SPL will countenance. An embattled Regan addressed the meeting to assure the clubs he believed the punishment for a Rangers newco needed to be significant; he proposed relegation from the SPL, a one-year transfer embargo, a significant fine and the related three-year ban from Europe was fair and just, although any further sanctions emanating from the dual contracts enquiry remain to be considered.
In a precursor to his public comments on Wednesday, the chief executive stated that the SFA could not permit a scenario whereby a Rangers newco were accepted into the third division lest the game in this country "wither on the vine". Instead, the Ibrox side should be accommodated in the first division with the caveat that the two league bodies would be merged, a potential new payment distribution model would be explored and play-offs with the top tier would be introduced. Should this scenario not transpire at next week's vote, the SFA expect the proposals for an SPL2 to be tabled.
"It was evident that some of the options which were under consideration would not be supported by [the SFA] and in fact limited our ability to affect the final outcome," added the statement. "In reality, the only decision open to us is to a) accept Rangers Newco into the SFL, or b) refuse Rangers Newco admittance. If accepted then Rangers Newco would be in Division 1. If not accepted into Division 1, it is apparent that SPL 2 will be the outcome."
Either way, Stenhousemuir – a club with closer links than most to their local community – feel they have been forced into a corner and are angered by the posturing of certain other parties in recent days. Their decision, they insist, is rooted first, in what is best for them; secondly, what is best for the SFL; and thirdly what is best for the game.
"The club does not feel any decision should be based on 'punishing' any other football clubs; that is neither our role nor our priority," the statement concludes. "Instead, we believe we have a duty to move forward with whichever option we believe will be in the best interests of Stenhousemuir Football Club. In this situation and having considered the consequences for the club primarily, but also that of the many other clubs who would suffer significantly, we will support Rangers Newco joining the SFL on the strict proviso that the various elements of restructuring and merging of the league are agreed to our satisfaction. For the reasons stated above, we would anticipate that the Rangers Newco would be entering at Div 1.
"We are a strong club with our own initiatives and identity which would be heavily impacted by any other outcome. However, the positives of this can be a stronger and more equitable league structure going forward and you have our assurance that we will apply every pressure to the authorities to achieve this outcome."