Dark cloud has a silver lining that's worth its weight in gold to clubs

EVERY cloud has a silver lining - and, for SFL chief executive David Longmuir, the dark sky that cast a shadow over Ibrox is now offering up plenty of it to their SFL rivals.

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David Longmuir says Rangers have been hugely positive for the SFL
David Longmuir says Rangers have been hugely positive for the SFL

Already, the sold-out signs have been put up at Brechin and Peterhead as the Light Blues hit the road in Rams-dens Cup action and their first-ever league outing in the bottom tier of Scottish football.

With both games covered live on television, SFL sponsors have, in turn, enjoyed the extra profile generated by Rangers arriving in small towns up and down the country, while both Glebe Park and Balmoor were packed with supporters full of a renewed interest in seeing how their team will go against the Glasgow giants.

With East Fife understood to have benefited to the tune of almost £200,000 from their Scottish Communities Cup-tie with Ally McCoist's men, the financial benefits have been clear for all to see, as the New Bayview side had an enitre season's budget handed to them in one night.

But SFL supremo Longmuir also sees huge benefits in terms of young Scottish talent being given a stage to perform against the former SPL champions that will only benefit their development while revealing that the Ibrox hierarchy have embraced their descent into the SFL with enthusiasm.

He said: "For me there is a renewed vigour about the way our member clubs have been approaching the new season.

"There is an excitement about the current campaign in the SFL that has not been there in a while. The supporters, particularly in the Third Division, are excited about following their local team and, of course, seeing them pit their wits against Rangers.

"But this is also a hugely exciting time for the young players in the SFL. If you look at the lads from East Fife last week, then they enjoyed the chance to go to a five-star European stadium at Ibrox and test themselves against inter- national quality players.

"Last Saturday we had lads like Rory McAllister from Peterhead getting their chance to show just what they could do against Rangers in front of a huge, live TV audience.

"Balmoor was full to capacity and there was a great atmosphere in the ground, and the whole thing was just so positive and similarly so when Rangers were at Brechin.

"All of that has generated a huge wave of positivity throughout the SFL that I don't think anyone thought was possible.

"So the bottom line for the SFL is that the arrival of Rangers in our organisation has been a hugely positive thing and it is great to see the grassroots of the Scottish game benefiting from it."

Clearly the financial benefits of the Ibrox club's descent into the lower reaches have already been hugely positive for the three SFL clubs who have met Gers in competitive action.

Longmuir admitted: "Obviously East Fife have benefited enormously from the financial aspects of their Scottish Communities Cup-tie at Ibrox.

"Clearly, I don't know the exact details of that but, for a smaller club like East Fife, they are going to have enjoyed a significant injection financially speaking that can only have been to their benefit. Certainly when I spoke to Sid Columbine, their chairman, after the cup-tie he was a happy man, but that was not just down to the financial aspects of the tie.

"Brechin, East Fife and Peterhead have all found Rangers most positive about their arrival in the SFL and there has been a genuine warmth at boardroom level between all three of our member clubs and the Rangers hierarchy that has been very pleasing.

"So yes, no-one disputes that our member clubs will enjoy financial benefits from their games with Rangers, but at the same time the opportunity for the fans and directors of our clubs to go to Ibrox and see their teams in league action against the Ibrox club is clearly another huge plus for all involved."

But with Gers requiring an extra-time winner to negotiate their Ramsdens Cup-tie at Brechin and a last-minute equaliser to gain their first league point at Peterhead, Longmuir has been buoyed by just how competitive his clubs have been against the Govan giants

The SFL chief said: "I think one aspect of Rangers' arrival within the SFL that people have not taken into account is just what a test they will face when they go to places like Brechin and Peterhead.

"The players in these teams have seen this as an enormous opportunity to produce their best against the best – and Rangers have been given two very competitive and enormously exciting games in the process.

"I am sure these games at Glebe Park and Balmoor will be talked about by the fans of both Brechin and Peterhead for many years to come.

Longmuir added: "There may be an extra cost in terms of policing when you come to making sure of safety at the smaller community-orientated grounds that have not previously been filled by the size of the crowds that accompany Rangers.

"That, though, is a minor negative when you come to balancing all the positives that Rangers' entry into the SFL will bring our member clubs.

"Our loyal sponsors are now reaping the rewards of the increased exposure generated by Rangers being in the SFL.

"All of that, in turn, will reflect well on our organisation. But you just can't quantify the positivity that Rangers' arrival in the SFL has generated."

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