Does Scottish football need Rangers?
With Rangers plummeting to Scotland's lowest tier, is Scottish football coping?
|Millions were spent on Flops|
Well, for the purpose of this article (and a vague attempt to be balanced) I will refer to the recently deceased club as “Rangers”, as opposed to Newco, Sevco Franchise, the list could go on. See what I mean when I say vague?
With the recent official liquidation of Rangers on Halloween, (fitting, I know) – how has Scottish football managed without the Glasgow giants, and how will it continue to?
"We are Rangers, super Rangers, no one likes us, we don’t care”
A well-known line from a song often sang by the followers of Rangers. It seems they may have paid the price for this being the case and not considered the possible ramifications.
When a Newco was turned down by a vast majority in the SPL, Rangers were demoted to the third division (or the new club was rejected entry to the top three flights.) Whatever way you choose to look at it, the “unthinkable” happened, the SPL would be facing a Rangers-less league for at least three seasons.
Cue the Armageddon.
Attendances would drop, Celtic wouldn’t be able to compete in Europe, there would be no competiveness in the league and Scottish football would effectively die.
Has this been the case?
First of all, attendances. There were cries that without Rangers in the league, there would be no competiveness and this would lead to poor attendances and lack of interest. I will start with Rangers’ main rivals Celtic.
Indeed, Celtic’s average attendance had dropped slightly from last year.
|Celtic Park sees another small crowd|
I will start with money. If anyone hasn’t noticed, we are in the middle of a double-dip recession, with the possibility of a triple-dip, luring in the near future. Fans don’t have as much money as they previously did. Supporting your club is important, but surely putting food on your family’s table is more so.
When Celtic are playing the likes of Raith Rovers and Inverness on a Wednesday night, I cannot blame anyone for not paying the ludicrously high prices. No disrespect to Raith and Inverness, obviously.
Then there is the factor of Celtic’s European excursions. With four qualifying games, home and away, then six in the group stages – they are not cheap. They certainly are more expensive than playing Peterhead at home.
I will leave that at that.
Now to the clubs who are competing for that elusive second spot in Scotland’s top flight. Well, despite the economic crisis we are all embedded in, Hearts, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Dundee United have all see a rise in attendances, compared to this time last year. Aberdeen and Hearts both had sell-outs at their games against Celtic and St Mirren.
Competitiveness would also disappear if there was only one side of the Old Firm in the SPL. Has this, so far, been the case?
Here are the top five teams in the SPL and how many points they are on.
Celtic – 25
Hibs – 24
Aberdeen - 21
Motherwell – 20
St Johnstone - 20
Five points separate the top five teams after 14 games. It is early days, sure, but the league looks as competitive as it ever has, with anyone looking like they can grab second spot. Who knows, someone might even put a challenge in for the title.
With Celtic qualifying for the Champions League, beating Barcelona, winning their first ever away match in the competition and on the brink of qualification to the knock-out stages – I don’t think many fans would claim this to be an armageddon.
There are of course down sides to a Rangers-less league.
Celtic playing Rangers was the biggest game of the footballing calendar around the world, it would be absurd to suggest this game isn’t missed.
The financial effect of no Rangers is still yet to be seen. I suggest some clubs will financially miss Rangers, even if they don’t just yet.
Sporting integrity has to be key. Despite Rangers’ massive plummet, which could only be matched by Felix Baumgartner – the league seems to be coping. Touch wood it continues to do so.