Those senior players who might have considered slumming it for a year in the first division would have been straight on to their agents the moment the Scottish Football League announced that it would be the Irn-Bru Third Division for Ally McCoist's side.
Loyalty to the manager and to the club is one thing but it would be akin to career suicide were those players at the peak of their performance – and with international aspirations to consider – to stick around and play lower-league football for three seasons at least. From a business perspective, it also makes little sense for Rangers to retain a group of players who earn more in a week than most of their would-be part-time opponents pick up in a year.
Should Rangers this week finally receive their membership from the Scottish Football Association (SFA), and with any transfer embargo not kicking in until September 1, McCoist will look to do some swift business to recruit reinforcements. Even then, it will likely be a relatively inexperienced side that takes to the field for Saturday's Ramsdens Cup tie away to Brechin City.
Those still struggling to come to terms with the concept of a Rangers team stripped of all household names need only cast an eye over the team sheet from the newco's first unofficial match against Airdrie United last week. There were a handful of figures recognisable to a wider audience – Neil Alexander, Kirk Broadfoot, Lee Wallace, Alejandro Bedoya and Lee McCulloch all featured – but the rest of the team was filled with graduates from the youth academy.
This enforced mass promotion of youth, however, may be a rare positive to emerge from the rubble of Rangers oldco's demise. "I suppose every cloud has a silver lining and this might be it for Rangers," was the view of Donald Park, the SFA's head of coach education and the man responsible for overseeing the emergence of young talent such as Derek Riordan, Kenny Miller, Tam McManus, Garry O'Connor and Ian Murray during a prolific stint in charge of Hibernian's youth academy.
It was policy during Park's first spell at Easter Road – he later served as Mixu Paatelainen's assistant – to send emerging players out on loan to the lower leagues to experience first-team football and toughen them up for the challenges ahead. So Riordan spent time at Cowdenbeath, Miller went to Stenhousemuir, Murray pitched up at Alloa Athletic, McManus was recruited by first East Fife and then Airdrieonians, and O'Connor had a short stint with Peterhead.
Park credits that time as the making of Hibs' big-name players and believes Rangers' young players may similarly flourish in the third division. The likes of Darren Cole, Chris Hegarty and Lewis McLeod may have barely a handful of first-team appearances between them but Park is confident they will make the most of this unexpected opportunity.
"I think the young boys will do great for Ally," he said. "Obviously, there's still an expectation on them playing with such a big club, but this is a great opportunity for them to learn their trade at a lower level. I wouldn't say there's less pressure on them in the third division as a club like Rangers are always expected to win, no matter what level they're at, but it's a chance for them to get regular first-team football, something many wouldn't have expected as recently as six months ago.
"There's a lot to be said for giving young players exposure to the lower leagues. When we sent a load of them out on loan at Hibs it was because we wanted them to get a proper test, to experience the hurly-burly of proper first-team football. It was important, we felt, for them to play against men, and not just boys of their own age. It was the making of all of those who experienced it.
"It's all part-time in the third division, but that doesn't mean those playing there are any less committed. These young Rangers players will need to think and act a bit more quickly as they won't get a second on the ball. But this is a great chance for them to show they can take Rangers forward."
Not everyone within the SFA shares Park's views. There is a chance Rangers will be able to enter a side into the SPL's new under-20 league, and performance director Mark Wotte believes that would be a more appropriate place in which to hone their skills.
"People have said it will be great for them to play in the third division," said the Dutchman. "But I disagree. It's important for them to play against the top young Scottish international players from Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, St Mirren, and Celtic and perform at a good competitive level.
"For the sake of Scotland being able to develop the best young talent and for us to make the most of this important project, I will be happy to accept Rangers into the under-20 league. But it ultimately won't be my decision."
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