The Rangers crisis must be resolved promptly because it is distracting from bigger threats to Scottish football, according to Henry McLeish.
The former First Minister, who led a review of the game in 2010, was speaking as the leading lights of Scottish football prepared to decide the fate of the Rangers newco.
The 30 member clubs of the Scottish Football League meet on Tuesday to discuss whether Charles Green’s side should be parachuted into the First Division. Rangers is expected to be denied entry to the Scottish Premier League at a vote on Wednesday, leaving SFL Division One (SFL 1) and Division Three (SFL 3) the alternative options.
However, the chairmen of five SFL 1 clubs have already declared their opposition to Rangers entering at their level, fearing that the integrity of the game will be undermined if Rangers is not seen to be punished fully for its actions.
Mr McLeish told STV’s Scotland Tonight that a solution to the Rangers crisis must be found to allow Scottish football to concentrate on more pressing issues like the dwindling finances of the game.
He said: “I think it’s important after six months of the Rangers crisis and the seismic consequences for the whole game that we actually find a home for Rangers Newco. I know that passions are running high with the fans; I think a lot of chairman are uncertain about the future; and there’s a fear generally about the game because of the lack of finance.
“I think it’s time this week that we found a home for Rangers, partly to make sure that we can move Rangers out of the courts and onto the pitch and start playing football but equally importantly, Rangers is one of the immediate priorities – it is not the biggest priority facing Scottish football in the long term. I would like the clubs to start to focus on some of the reconstruction issues which are badly needed if the game is to have a makeover, to have a future, and the fans can see some real competitive football taking place."
Mr McLeish would not be drawn on whether he thought Rangers should be admitted at SFL 1 or SFL 3. However, he pointed out that Rangers made a key contribution to the game, noting that in 2011, 28% of the 3.7million people who attended SPL matches did so at Ibrox.
He said: “It’s six months now and whether it’s the SPL or whether it’s SFL 1 or SFL 3, we need a home. The most important thing is to bring this to a conclusion so that we can refocus all our energies, all our talents, and all our commitments into looking into the wider aspects of the game."
Mr McLeish’s Review of Scottish Football called for the appointment of a performance director, a £400m investment in facilities, and more attention paid to youth training, amongst other recommendations.
He added: “Scottish football is in a parlous state. Scottish football can’t afford to be distracted much longer with the Rangers issue.”
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