RANGERS fans in Ulster are optimistic their beloved club will rise again from the wreckage of its almost certain liquidation.
With HM Revenue and Customs rejecting a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) plan — which would have rescued the Glasgow giants from administration — even Rangers’ status as a Scottish Premier League (SPL) team cannot be guaranteed.
The shadow of liquidation now looms over Ibrox as the demands of the tax man and other creditors takes priority over the club’s sporting ambitions.
Ardent Rangers fan and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said that, even if Rangers have to drop to the Scottish third division next year and some of their bigger stars leave, the club’s supporters haven’t seen the last of the glory days.
“I imagine there would be more than enough quality [at Rangers] to get promotion from the third division,” he said.
“I think the problem would come if they struggled on the second or third years as they try to get back to the SPL, but it’s definitely not the end of the road for Rangers.”
Stormont Assembly member Danny Kennedy believes it’s inconceivable that the club will disappear but said he has concerns it will be “severely humbled” by what lies ahead.
Also a keen Rangers supporter, the Newry and Armagh MLA said the prospect of Rangers starting afresh in a lower league was “not in the interests of Scottish football” – but was unimpressed by a Glasgow MP’s suggestion that an English league could prove a viable alternative.
Responding to the comments of Labour’s Ian Davidson, Mr Kennedy said: “It may have its attractions from a supporter’s point of view but in pragmatic terms I would be cautious about that.
“I’m not sure the English FA would fly in the face of their Scottish counterparts. It looks increasingly like they [Rangers] are going to have to start from a lower position in Scotland.”
Mr Kennedy said the “whole viability of Scottish football” would be in doubt if Rangers drop out of the SPL, and added: “It’s a sad outcome, not just for Rangers but for Scottish football in general.”