What if Rangers go bust?

Ibrox gates

BBC Scotland examines what would happen in the event of Rangers being liquidated and attempting to reform as new club.

If Rangers went out of existence, what would be the next move?

The new company would have to apply to join the Scottish Premier League.

As per article 11 of the SPL's rules, the six-man board would then vote on whether to approve the share transfer from the club formerly known as Rangers to the 'Newco'.

If the vote is 'yes' then the new club would be brought into the top 12.

Who are the six-man board?

The SPL board comprises chairman Ralph Topping, chief executive Neil Doncaster, Eric Riley of Celtic, Stephen Thompson of Dundee United, Derek Weir of Motherwell and Steven Brown of St Johnstone.

All six are entitled to vote on the election of a new club to the SPL.

The vote requires a majority decision, not a unanimous one and no other clubs get to vote on the decision, only the board.

Any new owners of Rangers would also have to meet the Scottish Football Association's 'fit and proper person' test.

What happens if the board votes to reject the new club's application to transfer ownership of Rangers' share in the SPL?

If they do not approve the share transfer - which would also include Ibrox, Murray Park and the club's players - there is no automatic mechanism in place for the new club to parachute to the Scottish Football League.

The SPL would subsequently become an 11-team league.

So, if there's only 11 teams left in the SPL, what happens to the club which finishes at the bottom of the table?

Reducing the SPL to 11 clubs would not save the current bottom club - currently Dunfermline - from relegation.

The SPL rules say the 'bottom' club - even if they are 11th - would be relegated to the First Division of the Scottish Football League.

This would create an opening for both two clubs, Ross County and Falkirk - currently first and second in the SFL - to be promoted to the SPL.

What would happen to the 'new' Rangers club?

They could independently apply to the SFL for admission to the Third Division, or they could be invited to apply in the way the most recent members, Annan Athletic, did.

Given that the SFL would now be short of a club they could potentially be accepted quickly. However, the vacant space would also attract applications from other clubs.

The SFL would then vote on which club to admit to the Third Division.

Could the SFL reject the 'new' Rangers from joining the Third Division?

The SFL offices are just a few feet away from the SPL desks, so they might choose to enquire as to why the SPL had not approved Rangers' share transfer and could reject the new club on the same grounds.

If the new club is voted in to the SPL or SFL surely this would set a bad precedent for other clubs currently in debt?

Several of the SPL's clubs are currently running with significant debts - many of which are manageable - but if Rangers were seen to liquidate, then quickly reform, thereby eliminating their debt, other clubs could view it as a way of becoming debt-free.

It would be difficult for the SPL and the SFL to argue against this course of action for other clubs if they had permitted Rangers to do so.

What would happen to this season's results and the SPL table if Rangers liquidate before the end of the season?

If Rangers do not complete the season and their remaining fixtures, it is impossible to predict what will be decided in terms of a final league table.

It could be decided that all points won and lost against them would be deducted, but clubs such as Kilmarnock and St Mirren who have successfully taken points from Rangers this season would see that as unfair and may contest it.

However, the remaining unplayed fixtures would be automatically awarded as a 3-0 victory to the opposition, but there is nothing in the rules to decree what actually happens in this circumstance - the SPL is privately describing the situation as "uncharted waters".

What about the other inquiries under way, such as the investigations into Rangers' alleged side-contract deals with players?

If proven, this could be deemed as cheating.

According to the SFA registration rules, payments received by a player solely relating to his playing activities must be fully recorded and declared, otherwise the player has been improperly registered.

If a player is deemed to be improperly registered, his team would be awarded a 3-0 defeat for each game in which he played.

It would entirely depend on how many players have received such deals - if any - and the results in past competitions would potentially have to be recaculated.

Could Rangers be stripped of past titles and trophies?

There is plenty of precedent for this kind of rule-breaking and subsequent punishment in sport.

In 1994, Marseille were found guilty of of financial irregularities and a match fixing scandal involving then president Bernard Tapie.

The club was forcably relegated to the French Second Division and lost their 1992-93 Division One title and the right to play in the Champions League in 1993-94, the 1993 European Super Cup and the 1993 Intercontinental Cup.

There are also plenty of other infamous historical sporting sanctions which have involved the stripping of titles, medals or trophies from athletes, teams and clubs; when the Canadian Ben Johnson was found to have taken steroids to win the 100min record time at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, he was disqualified and his gold medal was awarded to America's Carl Lewis.

More recently, cyclist Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and his 2011 Giro d'Italia title, and is now suspended until August 2012 for failing tests related to banned substances.

Such sanctions would be down to the SFA, the SPL and would undoubtedly be challenged by Rangers in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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