DEREK McINNES believes keeping Rangers in the bottom tier of Scottish football next season would undermine any Third Division title win this term.

The Light Blues are on course to win the championship as they currently sit 22 points clear of second-placed Queen’s Park.

Even though the Hampden team has two games in hand, Gers only need to win seven of their final 12 matches to be sure of the silverware.

All the while, Ally McCoist’s men might not get promoted even if they do come out on top as talk of pushing through a proposed 12-12-18 divisional structure for next term rumbles on.

McInnes, in the team as a substitute when Rangers won their ninth successive Premier Division crown in 1997, has sympathy for his old team-mate in that respect.

And he believes any alterations to the format should be made in between seasons rather than during a campaign as could be the case in the weeks ahead.

McInnes said: “Rangers have a grievance. I think what it does do is undermine them winning a title this year.

“I do think any decision regarding reconstruction should be done at the start of a season with a view to starting it the following season.

“When you’re halfway or two thirds of the way through, it seems a bit unrealistic to think changes can be implemented for the start of the following campaign.

“I think the practicality of that would lead towards that (changes kicking in at the start of the 2014/15 season). There are going to be a lot of people unhappy with certain scenarios.

“It won’t just be Rangers who are affected if there are changes two thirds of the way through and I can understand why Ally would be frustrated by that.

“For me, the difficulty of that being in place for the start of next season is there for everyone to see.”

McInnes, meanwhile, feels the way the last few months have gone will make McCoist a much stronger manager in the long run.

The Gers boss has been criticised by some for the way his team has performed at times this term, despite the fact it has built up such a good lead.

McInnes understands why that has been the case but has nothing but admiration for the way his old team-mate has coped in the face of adversity.

He added: “The criticism is there for any Old Firm manager and for Rangers and Ally this season, there was always that pressure and demand to win the league.

“They’ll do that comfortably but at the start of the season the club was all over the place. They didn’t know if they could bring players in or if there was going to be a team playing.

“I think that has been unsettling but they’re now going to be better prepared going into the next campaign, whatever league they are in.

“Rangers have blooded a lot of youngsters this year which I’m sure they’ll get the benefit of and Ally has done the job he set out to do at the start of the season.

“That was to start gradually working back up to the top flight and I’m sure he’ll be better equipped for that next season.

“There’s no doubt Ally will have got stronger too. He’ll have learned so much and it’s important that he’s talking solely about football now where he can.

“There has been a huge amount of drama at Rangers in the last year and there’s no course which can prepare you for what he has gone through.

“From day to day, you just want to deal with your players and prepare them for a Saturday. It’s all you want along with a good level of support from the people above you.

“I think he has that now and he can focus on on-field matters. He’ll want to be judged on that now.”

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