Today only thirteen players showed up to begin preseason training for Newco F.C.- the club that has replaced Rangers F.C. and that will play somewhere, in some league in Scotland during the 2012-2013 season. American’s Alejandro Bedoya, Maurice Edu, and Carlos Bocanegra were not among this baker’s dozen- and they were not expected to be. All are expected to arrive later this week or early next week- but will they? There is currently a dispute brewing between presumptive owner of the Newco, Charles Green and the former Rangers players/the Scottish P.F.A over the contract status of the players given the demise of Rangers F.C.- the club with which they signed their contracts. Green believes that, having purchased the assets of the old Rangers F.C., he now owns the contracts. The players and P.F.A. claim that is not the case and, while I am neither a solicitor nor do I play one on t.v., the law seems to be very solidly in favor of the players. Specifically, in 2006 the U.K. government passed the “Transfer of Undertakings (Protective Employment) Regulations,” known as “TUPE.” Under this law players may transfer their contracts to the new entity, but they are not obliged to. In short, it appears that the former Rangers players will decide whether they will stay or go and, quite frankly, most of those with marketable skills have begun to vote with their feet. Which brings us to the American trio in Glasgow.
Carlos Bocanegra signed a three year deal with Rangers after leaving Ligue 1 side St. Etienne after the 2010-2011 season, so he would have this coming season and one more to play for the Newco if he chose to stay. At the age of 32 and probably hoping for one more shot at a World Cup roster in 2014 it seems unlikely that he would risk staying with the club and potentially spending those two season in the Scottish Football League’s Second and Third Divisions. Beyond that, it is no secret that he is coveted by MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps. Personally, I can’t see any scenario under which Bocanegra remains with the new club and I don’t blame him.
6/30/12: Bocanegra indicated today that he will not return to Rangers unless they are in the SPL- so he’s gone.
Maurice Edu signed a five year contract with Rangers after leaving Toronto F.C. in 2008, so he too would have two more seasons to play with the Newco. Not only will he want to avoid toiling in the lower divisions in the lead-up to World Cup 2014, but he will also want to avoid his career plateauing in his mid-20s after improving greatly while at Rangers. During the last January transfer window Rangers rejected an offer for Edu from Ligue 1 side Souchaux which suggests that there is interest in him from him in other quality leagues. It’s also interesting, given Rangers’ financial collapse, that they were turning down cash offers as recently as January!
Finally, there is Alejandro Bedoya, whose Rangers’ career appears to be over before it really had a chance to begin. Bedoya played only 12 times in the league for Rangers last season after joining from Swedish side Orebro. The contract Bedoya signed with Rangers was to last through June of 2014, but again, I can’t imagine any scenario under which he would remain with the Newco. This is especially unlikely in Bedoya’ case because, unlike Bocanegra and Edu, he is very much on the fringes of the USMNT as they prepare for 2014. With that in mind, Bedoya probably only needs to move to a club where he will play on a regular basis. That could mean staying in Scotland, going back to Sweden, giving MLS a shot, etc..
There will be some definitive news about these players in the next 7-10 days, but I’d advise anybody who owns a Rangers’ top with one of their names on it to begin treating it as a collector’s item.