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Rangers barred from playing in Scottish top league

GLASGOW, Scotland -- Glasgow Rangers will not be playing in the Scottish Premier League next season as a result of the club's financial meltdown, a move that likely ensures rival Celtic will win the title.

SPL clubs voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to reject a bid by a reformed Rangers to stay in the division. Rangers could wind up being relegated to the third division.

The 140-year-old club has won a record 54 domestic league titles but has tax debts of 21 million pounds ($32.7 million) and entered bankruptcy protection in February.

Failure to secure agreement with tax authorities led to Rangers chairman Charles Green purchasing the club's assets in a 5.5 million pound ($8.6 million) deal and establishing a new company.

Green said the club was "deeply disappointed" with the result of the vote and will be applying to join the Scottish Football League, which is made up of three divisions.

"If our application were to be accepted, Rangers will play in whichever division the SFL sees fit and we will move forward from there," Green said.

Celtic and Rangers have won every league title since Aberdeen under manager Alex Ferguson in 1985 and no other club has finished as high as second since Hearts in 2006.