Soccer-Scotland's Rangers should play in England, CEO says

LONDON, March 4 Mon Mar 4, 2013 4:42am EST

LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - Former Scottish champions Rangers should be integrated into English club soccer in the next few years alongside perennial Glasgow rivals Celtic, Rangers chief executive Charles Green said on Monday.

Green said Wales were likely to have two clubs in the English Premier League next season if Cardiff City were promoted to join Swansea City.

He said he believed that the two big Glasgow clubs should be admitted to the English game - although not straight into the Premier League - and leave their junior sides to play in Scotland.

"The parents would play in a different league, I believe that would be England," said Green, when asked where Rangers saw themselves in five years' time.

The alternative for Rangers would be a place in a cross-border European league, he added.

The idea of Glasgow's "Old Firm" clubs playing in England has been around for a number of years and has been rejected in the past by Premier League clubs. Although bringing big crowds, it would mean a couple of English teams risked being squeezed out of the lucrative top flight.

Rangers, who still draw crowds of 45,000, are rebuilding from the fourth tier of Scottish soccer under new owners after their former parent went bankrupt last year.

The club, listed on London's junior AIM stock market in December, said they had made an underlying loss of seven million pounds ($10.5 million) in the seven months to end-December.

Rangers have recently agreed a new five-year kit supply deal with German sportswear company Puma and a one-year shirt sponsorship deal with C&C's Blackthorn Cider. The club expect to make an operating loss this season but move into profit the following year.

In the short-term, a planned restructuring of Scottish soccer should give Rangers a quick route back towards the top of the Scottish game, Green said.

The demise of Rangers has added to the sense of crisis in Scottish soccer and various options are being examined for the 42 clubs in the professional structure.

Rangers are on course for promotion to the third tier but Green said they could be invited to join a new 12-team second tier from next season.

"If there is a cherry-picking of the twelve, there is no way they wouldn't pick us," he said.

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