Liquidation hit Rangers are facing a battle to remain in the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League. The Ibrox club were deducted ten points last season - effectively ending their title bid - after entering administration. Now they face the prospect of the indignity that is playing in Scottish Division Three next season, if the 11 other SPL clubs vote against their bid to be accepted into the league next season on July 4th. Rangers themselves will have a casting vote, though they need an 8-4 majority for the newco to the included. Harts have already revealed they will vote against the newco. The SPL minus Rangers would effectively kill the league. It is a league that has regularly faced chagrin at being a "two team league". The fact of the matter is, you have to go back to the 1984-85 season for the last time an SPL club outside Celtic or Rangers won it. Aberdeen were champions that season, managed by a certain Sir Alex Ferguson. Rangers not included, Celtic won last seasons SPL by 31 points, with Motherwell coming in 3rd. Remove Rangers from the scenario entirely, and the SPL is basically a league dominated by Celtic. Sky and ESPN are three years into a five year TV deal worth £110million. The Sky and ESPN deal to cover 30 SPL games each season until 2016-17 was on the basis of four lucrative Old Firm clashes a year. Without those derby games to draw in a full capacity audience, it simply wouldn't pay for Sky or ESPN to continue broadcasting the SPL. It has been speculated that Sky have threatened to pull the plug on the SPL already. A source at the broadcaster told the Daily Record:
"No Rangers equals no Sky, unless Gers are back very soon. It's just not going to be commercially worth it if it's going to be any longer than 12 months with no Old Firm league games."
These claims were strenuously denied by Sky Chiefs today, though it was accepted that the lucrative contract between the SPL and Sky would have to be "renegotiated". Were Rangers to be dumped from the SPL, an insider for Sky told the Scottish Sun:
That would change things for us, naturally. It would leave a quality hole in Scotlands top division, competition would deteriorate and we would have to renegotiate."
Were Sky to cancel or renegotiate their deal with the SPL, that would result in the remaining Scottish clubs in the Premier League losing out entirely on, or receiving a far reduced cut of TV revenue, meaning the clubs already so far behind Celtic would stay that way for the foreseeable.
Joseph is an accredited football journalist and has interviewed nearly all of the current 20 Barclay's Premier League managers. He is also a correspondent for Bleacher Report and has written for Caught Offside and Give Me Football.