Rangers' attempts to land a quadruple trophy haul have suffered a setback after Scottish football's governing bodies opted not to ease the Glasgow club's fixture pile-up.
Walter Smith's side, who have already won the League Cup, are trying to overhaul Celtic to land the Premier League and also have a UEFA Cup final showdown against Zenit St Petersburg and a Scottish Cup final clash against Queen of the South in a hectic finale to the campaign.
Rangers, who trail Celtic by seven points with three games in hand, had asked the SPL to push back the season beyond May 22 so they can fit in their remaining five league matches.
The Ibrox outfit wanted to postpone Saturday's match against Dundee United, to give them extra time to prepare for next week's UEFA Cup final.
That could have led to the final round of SPL games being played on the date designated for the Scottish Cup showpiece being postponed until a later date.
But the SPL rejected their appeal and the Scottish Football Association also announced on Tuesday that the Scottish Cup final will also not be moved from May 24, leaving Rangers facing seven matches in 17 days.
The decision drew a furious reaction from Ibrox, with Rangers chairman Sir David Murray claiming it made Scottish football a laughing stock as the Russian federation had called off games to help Zenit.
“Throughout the world people will laugh at this decision in disbelief, and none more so than in Russia as their own association have done everything they can to assist FC Zenit St Petersburg,” Murray said.
“We were not asking that all games be called off, simply one match prior to such a prestigious European final.
“The reaction throughout Europe when we have been discussing other matters with clubs has been one of astonishment that we are in this situation.
“It has been a remarkable season despite being spoiled by bureaucracy and Scottish footballing legislators.”
Smith admitted Rangers have no option but to grin and bear it for now.
“I think everyone knows how we feel about it, but we will play,” he said.
The SFA were adamant there was no other option and confirmed their decision in a statement: “We met with the SPL to see if there was any way in which the Scottish FA could help out with the current situation regarding fixture congestion.
“A range of options and issues were explored, including the date of the Scottish Cup Final. Even allowing for the significant difficulties involved in moving the Cup Final, it was an option that was discussed.
“However, it was felt that, at this late stage, it was not a viable move as it would not open up any room for change in the SPL programme.”
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