Jun 29 2012 By Andrew Burns
ANNAN Athletic's potential showdown with a newco Rangers next season has moved a step closer.
Rangers are seeking a league to compete in now that it appears certain their bid to play in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) will be rejected, with six clubs publicly saying they will vote against the Ibrox side being admitted to the top flight.
And with Rangers likely to apply to join the Scottish Football League (SFL), Annan chairman Henry McClelland believes the new outfit should start from the bottom and work their way up.
He said: "The stance we have had, up to now, is that if Rangers or the newco are no longer in the SPL they should apply to join the SFL along with other clubs and go through the process and apply to join the third division.
"All SFL clubs will go to a meeting on Tuesday and will be given the opportunity to debate the current situation.
"Myself and the vice chairman will go to Hampden and be involved in the discussions and I would expect we will be to go back to the clubs and discuss what we have been told, but our position up to this point has been that Rangers should apply to fill the vacancy."
Reports earlier this week suggested that talks have been held between the three governing bodies - the Scottish Football Association, SPL and SFL - over a compromise deal that could see the new Rangers enter the Scottish First Division, amid wider changes to the structure of the game.
Three of Scotland's second tier clubs - Raith Rovers, Falkirk and Morton - have already stated their opposition to any move that would allow the crisis-hit Gers into the first division.
Increase in gates coupled with further potential sponsorship revenue could see all third division clubs land a huge financial windfall if the Gers were to enter the league.
The decision on a range of proposals being considered to revamp the SPL and SFL could soon fall on each of the member clubs, including Dumfries and Galloway's three senior teams, Queen of the South, Annan and Stranraer.
After a team is reinstated to the SPL, for any SFL reform to go through, a vote would be required among its remaining 29 member clubs.
Seventy five per cent of clubs - or 22 in total - would be required to vote through the change.
Otherwise Rangers would most likely enter the SFL at the bottom tier.
Any vacancy arising in the SPL would be filled by first division runners-up Dundee or relegated Dunfermline.
Promoted Losing play-off finalists Airdrie United and Stranraer would be promoted to the first and second divisions respectively.
This would create a gap in the third division, and SFL chief executive David Longmuir has already suggested that "the only way we could accommodate any new application would be to create a gap in the third division".
This would see Annan square off with Rangers next season, with the Glasgow giants travelling to Galabank on September 15 and January 2 to replace the fixtures originally scheduled with Stranraer.
Harry Cairney's side could then face the Blues at the 51,082-capacity Ibrox Stadium on December 1 and March 9.
Queen of the South director Mark Robertson said: "If and when we are asked to make any vote, we will make the decision that is in the best interest of Queen of the South and Scottish football."