At a historic meeting at Hampden, 29 of the 30 clubs agreed to allow Sevco Scotland Ltd to become an associate member of the SFL. Twenty-five of them then voted to send the Ibrox club into the bottom tier of the set-up.
As things stand, Ally McCoist's side will open the season with a Ramsdens Cup tie away to either Brechin City or Forfar Athletic on July 28. Their first league game will be away to Peterhead on August 11.
Airdrie United will move up into the first division to fill the vacancy left by either Dundee or Dunfermline – they should discover on Monday which one will replace oldco Rangers in the SPL – while Stranraer will replace Airdrie in the second division.
David Longmuir, chief executive of the SFL, called the result of the vote a victory for "sporting fairness" although there were concerns among some of his chairmen that this would not be the end of the matter.
The prospect of an SPL second tier being hastily created should Rangers not be elected into the first division had previously been spoken about by Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, and with the SPL clubs set to convene at Hampden on Monday for their annual meeting, there was a suspicion that the topic of SPL2 could return to the agenda, or that the clubs might change their minds on not letting Rangers in to the SPL.
"I still don't know where I expect to see Rangers playing because we'll have to wait and see what develops on Monday," said John Yorkston, the Dunfermline chairman. "I'm not sure this is over yet. I'm sure there will be a twist in the tale and that will come out on Monday when the SPL meet."
Turnbull Hutton, the Raith Rovers chairman, was similarly sceptical. "This isn't over," he said. "It is important but it won't be the endgame.
"There could well be some reaction to our vote and, who knows, someone might decide they want to do something else. That's the next move on the chess board. The ball is back up in the air; who is going to pick it up and run with it now? We've done our bit."
The idea that first division clubs could be interested in being part of an SPL2 was, however, rubbished by Gordon McDougall, the Livingston chairman.
"If Rangers end up being put somewhere else by the SFA, considering what the SPL and SFL clubs have decided, it would disappoint me and I'd feel let down," he said. "I don't think there is any chance of an SPL2 being created, such is the strength of feeling among the SFL clubs. We all want a 42-club resolution to this situation, all working together for football."
Rangers, however, will not be one of those agitating for an SPL 2. Charles Green, the club's chief executive, and McCoist were both at Hampden yesterday and later released a statement accepting the decision to put the club into the third division, assuming they are awarded membership status by the SFA.
"From the outset, we made clear we would play where we were told to play and we just want to get back to playing football," Green said. "This decision maintains the sporting integrity that clubs and fans across Scotland have been calling for but it also impacts massively on Scottish football as a whole and only time will tell what the consequences will be."
McCoist added: "I fully accept the decision of the SFL today and thank them for allowing us into the SFL. Clearly, starting again from the bottom league is not ideal and makes the task of rebuilding Rangers a longer one but the SFL was placed in an impossible situation and I respect its decision."
Regan had previously warned that the game would "wither on the vine" if Rangers were not put into the first division, and within hours of the vote, Inverness Caledonian Thistle had laid out their concerns.
"The directors of ICT FC are fully aware of the financial implications of this latest decision on newco," said chairman Kenny Cameron. "The loss of either our fans or our sponsors was never going to leave any of the clubs in Scotland in a healthy financial position and for some this could spell the end of football as we know it.
"All clubs will now have to live with the repercussions of this decision. Scottish football was at a crossroads today in terms of what was on the table for all clubs regarding reorganisation, financial distribution and a road map that would have taken the game forward. But this has now been thrown in to disarray by this decision. This is a sad day for all clubs in Scotland."
Regan, in a statement, described the decision as a "watershed for Scottish football" but added little more detail on what it might mean going forward. "There will, undoubtedly, be financial consequences on the horizon," he said.
"None the less, with togetherness, an open mind, and innovative thinking, there can also be opportunity: opportunity to restructure the game and promote competitiveness, to place greater emphasis on development of young Scottish talent and to support the financial sustainability of clubs through the Financial Fair Play model."
Longmuir also acknowledged there would be financial repercussions following yesterday's vote but felt the decision was a correct one.
"We have to look at the football economy," he said. "It may shrink as a result of us being allowed to put Rangers into the third division. The balancing act was the cash value of sporting fairness versus the cash value of the sporting economy. I think you can recover from financial failure but it is very difficult when you start hindering the process of fairness."
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