By Keith Weir
LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Former champions Rangers have threatened to try to move to a league outside Scotland if a plan to restructure the Scottish game goes ahead and leaves them languishing in the lowest tier.
Chief Executive Charles Green made the threat on Wednesday, floating the prospect of the Glasgow club joining forces with teams from European nations such as Belgium and the Netherlands.
Rangers, national champions a record 54 times, have had to relaunch from the fourth tier of the Scottish game after collapsing under a pile of debt last year.
The latest proposals envisage a new three-level structure for the Scottish game, but the authorities have ruled out fast-tracking Rangers back to a higher level.
Although Rangers are running away with the Scottish Third Division, the changes would mean they would remain stuck in an enlarged lowest division.
"In what league do you win a division and then end up playing the same teams again the following season? There is no meaning to it, in reality," Green told Rangers in-house TV station on Wednesday.
"I haven't read anything other than what is in the press and if that is what we have sat here eagerly awaiting to transform Scottish football, my advice to the board of Rangers is the quicker we can leave Scottish football the better."
NO OBVIOUS ALTERNATIVE
Rangers are rebuilding and raised 22 million pounds ($35.2 million) last month when they returned to the stock market. Green told Reuters then that talk of forming a European soccer league made the club a good investment.
The chief executive conceded on Wednesday that there was no obvious place for Rangers to leave at present but noted there had been talk of a new "Beneliga" involving top clubs from neighbours Belgium and the Netherlands.
"Hand on heart today there isn't an option but that doesn't mean we shouldn't start looking for an option," he said.
"If all we have to look forward to over the next four years is more madness then we would be failing as directors not to explore the alternatives."
Rangers remain one of Britain's best supported clubs. They had a crowd of over 46,000 for last Saturday's home draw with Elgin while rivals in the division are watched only be a few hundred people.
However, many in the Scottish game believe Rangers must pay the price for the financial failures of the previous management and gradually work their way through the leagues.
All 42 Scottish clubs will get the chance to vote on the proposed restructure later this month.