Rangers in push to play in England2013-03-04 18:03:29http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f1b03180-84ed-11e2-891d-00144feabdc0,s01=1.html
Former Scottish champions Rangers Football Club is preparing to launch a legal campaign to support its long-held desire to be allowed to compete in English football, saying resistance to the idea is anti-competitive.
England's Premier League and Football League have given short shrift to previous attempts by Rangers and Celtic, Scotland's two footballing giants, to compete south of the border.
But Charles Green, Rangers' chief executive, said he was determined to put the issue back on the agenda, this time with the threat of court action to reinforce the club's claim.
He said he intended to put recommendations to the Rangers board, supported by opinions from three separate law firms, that to deny Rangers access to English football would be in breach of European competition law.
"European law is very clear on discrimination and access," Mr Green said. "We don't want to take them to court, but we could go to court . . . It's a restriction of trade. It's anti-competition. I don't think you'd get to a point where anybody would defend it."
Rangers would be content to join a lower tier of the Football League and play a junior side in Scotland. Mr Green said he had not discussed his strategy with Glasgow rivals Celtic.
The Scottish game would benefit from the departure of Rangers and Celtic, Mr Green contended. "If you take out these two monsters, it levels up the playing field for the remaining clubs," he said.
Rangers is playing in Scotland's fourth tier after the club's former parent company went into administration last year, though it continues to attract average crowds of 46,000.
The new parent company set up by a consortium led by Mr Green floated in December, raising £22.2m.
Rangers, which leads Scottish League Division Three, is awaiting the outcome of talks on restructuring Scottish football which will determine which tier it joins next season, which Mr Green said will determine ticket prices.
He said he now regretted the extent of this season's ticket price cuts.
The club's interim results showed a pre-tax profit of £9.5m, though this was the result of a one-off accounting benefit of £20.5m.
The results showed an underlying loss of £7m, in line with expectations after revenues of £9.5m and operating expenses of £16.6m.
Mr Green said he expected those losses to come down by the end of the year, saying the club was gaining further control on overheads and its cost base and would move into profit next year.
"We have improved the income side," he added, pointing to new deals with retailer Sports Direct, kit supplier Puma and shirt sponsor Blackthorn Cider.
Rangers had £21.2m of cash at the end of 2012.
Shares were unchanged at 79.75p.
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