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Rangers' plight offers chance for non-Old Firm clubs

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Jim Spence | 19:30 UK time, Monday, 27 February 2012

Is the phrase "The Old Firm" now redundant, given Celtic's insistance that Rangers' well-being is immaterial to theirs?

The connectivity of the two clubs in the minds of many fans, who care not a jot for the Glasgow pair, may have been broken with Rangers' desperate situation and Celtic's clear stance.

Celtic have been run prudently and with diligence. Rangers have not.

How might the ongoing situation affect the rest of Scottish football though?

As someone based far away from the parochialism of Glasgow, and who dips his toes in the waters of that city's big two only when the editor asks politely (see my last blog on Sir David Murray), I am more interested in what Rangers' changed circumstances might mean for the wider Scottish game.

It might be the case that Scottish Premier League clubs may now be better able to compete with Rangers, should there still be a Rangers in the top league.

A more vexing question perhaps is can any club seriously tilt at Celtic's windmills?
The answer is surely no, given the huge gap in resources.

However, second place in the SPL and Champions League football may now be a realistic proposition for the other clubs.

There are some variables to be thrown into the mix.

The memorandum of agreement for clubs to compete in Uefa's competitions expires in 2014.

Top outfits like Barcelona and Real Madrid have been lobbying for major change and perhaps even setting up a breakaway European league.

They have mooted smaller domestic leagues in the big countries, to allow them to maximise the opportunities a new European set-up could bring.

For instance, it has been suggested that a reduced Premier League in England would feature 16 clubs, with the carrot of as many as eight places in a new Champions League.

In Scotland, however, given massive fan resistance to a 10-club league, could the move be in the other direction, to a bigger top division?

A 16-club SPL would please most fans.

Given Rangers' circumstances, the other clubs would have a decent shout of that second Champions League spot to accompany Celtic into a previously unimaginable world of glamour and riches.

Celtic have long held wider ambitions than the Scottish domestic scene can provide.
It would surprise no-one, given their potential, if they had been approached by other top clubs for their thoughts on the subject.

I chaired a question and answer session for Dundee United fans in the Arab Trust recently. It's fair to say the majority did not want to see Rangers go out of business.
They were, however, adamant on two things.

That Rangers must meet all their dues and obligations and that the current situation was a great opportunity for the rest of the SPL clubs to change the voting structure for the benefit of all of the clubs. The desire for a bigger league was also clear.

If a way can be found to make up the shortfall in income from an SPL that is bigger but has less fixtures then other Scottish clubs could benefit from Rangers' difficulties.

There are lots of imponderables at play here. However, with Celtic rightly looking after their own interests in proclaiming that life goes on without the neighbours, other Scottish clubs may also be turning their attention to what life could or should be like for them in the same circumstances.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Can you stop this nonsense that Rangers being weaker or defunct is good for Scottish football. Celtic will be the major player in Scotland, but on reduced revenues. They are getting by at the moment, profits down. They played in Europa league by default, they were eliminated, got in on technicalities.
    TV deals have a clause, no OF games - no deal. It will have to be renegotiated, probably at lower rate, if they are still interested. Those that say TV revenue isn't that important to their clubs, what's the biggest gate revenue = OF clashes. Now take half of that out, every club in Scotland will suffer. Celtic will suffer as well, they have managed finances well. But there was always Rangers.
    Celtic are kidding themselves if they believe they can survive let alone prosper in a league without Rangers. Revenues down, high wage bills, no transfer kitty. Then out first round in Europe to so called minnows, when will Scotland learn, they are the minnows. We need the OF to be stronger and the rest to rise up to the challenge.

  • Comment number 2.

    sorry, does it really matter? Celtic and Rangers merely embarass themselves in the top Euro comp...what chance Motherwell?

  • Comment number 3.

    @ Someone_told_me You simply aren't in tune with how fans of all clubs in Scotland (out-with Rangers) are feeling. They want Rangers to be severely weakened if not gone altogether.

    Perhaps you're so used to this notion that Rangers are a naturally big club that you've forgotten in the years leading up to David Murray taking over you barely managed a top 2 place and had crowds averaging 10,000.

    Whether other clubs could survive or not when you remove the scraps of the TV deal and the revenue generated from the 'best fans in the world' turning up to our grounds twice a season is irrelevant - the truth is that the Rangers business model was unsustainable, so whatever reality is we'll just need to live with it.

    But ultimately, the rest of the clubs have become well used to watching rubbish football for the last 20 years but supporting their team nonetheless. Let's see how good your lot are doing the same.

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree with deadeye (@2).. SPL doesn't matter.. it's a local league... Celtic and Rangers both fail to impress in Euro competition.. How they get a place in CL is beyond me. If they were in the English league they would possibly improve having realistic opposition on a weekly basis. OF games are the only real competition they get in most seasons... Time to wake up and spread the money to other Scottish clubs, the only way to improve the Scottish leagues.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

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  • Comment number 7.

    I think that Rangers' problems do present an opportunity for non-Old Firm Clubs, but the problem is that they aren't sufficiently well set up to really grasp it. For example if you look at the next 3 biggest clubs by historic average crowds (Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen) all 3 are flailing at the moment.

    Romanov is doing his best to kill Hearts off, and even Sergio now says that a top 6 finish is the limit of their goals this season.

    My team, Hibs, are in all manner of bother fighting relegation and dealing with years of poor managers and their signings - for what its worth I feel more comfortable with Fenlon than just about anyone since Mowbray, but it will be at least another season and a half before he sorts us out.

    Aberdeen are all over the shop as well, and although the old boys probably know what they're doing, they're taking a long time turning Aberdeen round, and it's not like they're going to get any more money whilst Milne is trying to sort out the stadium stuff.

    That leaves Motherwell and Utd as possible contenders, both of whom struggle to get more than 5000, or 8000 at home games even when they're going well - so therefore, even with Rangers in the myre I just can't see how they can expect to be able to pay better wages for players than Rangers who even at their worst will still make much greater revenues.

    I remember Celtic in the early 90s and they were rubbish, but all that meant was that Rangers won everything, it didn't really open up the field for everyone else, because of the fact that no-one else had any money, and I think that the same will happen this decade, but with Celtic running the show and Rangers and everyone else languishing in their wake.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    @2 - "does it really matter........what chance Motherwell". Erm, yeah, I think it probably does matter to most folk - and here's why. No Rangers = No TV Money & lesser gate receipts twice a year. In today's climate, and especially considering the Rangers situation, you cant be seriously thinking that a financial loss of that magnitude doesnt matter, can you?? And as for "..what chance Motherwell" - probably none unfortunately - same as their Europa Cup run last year - their best ever in Europe.......yet sadly failing to make the group stages. A repeat of that is hardly going to do wonders for the coefficient.......and yes, that matters too, unless you can see some other way of getting a place in EC/CL???

    @3 - You think it's "irrelevant" if other clubs survive or not without Rangers - yet you claim non-Rangers fans want to see Rangers gone?? My friend, I think it is you who is isnt in tune with fans of all clubs in Scotland. Sure, have a laugh at the situation and make a wee joke or 2, but come to your senses if you think "fans of all clubs" REALLY want this and the negative impact it will bring to our game.

    @4 - like it or not, the Rangers & Celtic ARE the money in Scottish football. If there is no Rangers, there will be no TV money coming in, no European dosh for playing in the EC/CL, Sponsors probably wont exactly be keen to keep their existing deals either if they wont get any TV-time or advsertisment - so just exactly what sort of money do you think there is going to be going around?

    Mr Jim Spence - "Celtic would probably survive without Rangers". Are you seriously trying to tell us that you think Scotland would still get 2 CL places without Rangers - or worse yet, that "other clubs would consult Celtic on the subject"?? UEFA's defunct then, is it? IMO, no Rangers, and the coefficient drops thru the floor - Celtic would be lucky to get a guaranteed EC place - and forget the SuperLeage idea, it's years away at best.

    For the here-and-now, ALL clubs in Scotland (and particuarly in the SPL) WILL suffer to some extent as a result of what's happening in Govan. Some clubs would manage it, tho others maybe not, and regardless of anyone's personal feeling about it, you must be a complete and utter idiot to think it would be good for the Scottish game if either half of the OF went bust.

  • Comment number 10.

    Clubs like Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Dundee United and Motherwell should be out looking for new investors. What would an investment of 10 million mean to one of these clubs? For a relatively modest investment like that, a club could intelligently increase its talent pool. Also, hearts needs a serious owner

    These clubs should see Rangers predicament as lowering the barriers to entry for the second slot. It's a real possibility that Rangers take a drop to the lower leagues in some form. That would give a club(s) three years to improve

  • Comment number 11.

    Following rangers mess from Down Under, an expat Jambo. A couple of observations:

    If Rangers do not pay there football debts in full they should not be allowed to remain in the SPL, I am surprised it is not automatic suspension under the League rules.

    When the clubs outwith the 'Old Firm' have challenged in the last 30 years they have seen an increase in their gates/income. I am sure if the 'others' were challenging for 2nd place they would see increased gates.

  • Comment number 12.

    To suggest that it is in anyway good for Scottish football that it should move from a two horse race to a one horse race is absurd. I do agree that this may spark an extension of the SPL which should have happened a long time ago and that it is possible that smaller clubs may,temporarily at least,be able to challenge for European places but these are very thin silver linings around a huge black cloud.

    As for 'Euro'Leagues' and the like. Barcelona and Real may well be enthusiastic but they are in a very small minority. The English are not about to start decimating their Premier League in the name of expanding European competition. UEFA itself is against such ideas,the Italians are not interested. It's a non-starter but even if it did get off the ground Celtic nor Rangers nor any other Scottish club would play any part in it. What the Spannish giants seek is a closed elite event qualified for via a clubs marketing potential. It would have nothing whatsoever to do with on field abilities but even if it did,Scottish footballs contribution would still be zero. Closed shop or open event Scotland would get no representation and would be better off supporting UEFA and others in standing against such proposals.

    As for what should happen to Rangers,relegating them would see a massive fall in revenue. Smaller clubs might see some increases in gates but none are going to get 40,000 plus a week or fill visitors sections of smaller stadia every week,overall attendances would be down and down by a long way. However Rangers must face sanction. I would advocate them being deducted points (30 perhaps) at the start of next season.

    It is the future however which should be concerning us all. I would hope that the need for a more interesting,more vibrant competition is now obvious. Cutting the top flight to ten clubs is not on. My own preference is for a straight two tier system of 18 and 24. Abolition of the League Cup to accomodate the extra games in the SFL (46). Four up ,four down, three automatic one via a promotion play-off and,crucially,an end of season Premiership play-off between the top four in the SPL to determine the Champions. Something of that sort should happen and it should happen now.

  • Comment number 13.

    ~12. Agree almost entirely. I would also add that Rangers demise must surely spark a move to ensure such debts cannot be run up in future by any Scottish club. A wage cap is required. Named squads to include a certain number of players qualified to play for Scotland should be introduced. That may mean no club could seriously compete in Europe in the short term but it would a more level playing field at home. I dont think a 24 club SFL is viable however,Id prefer two 16s and a ten with an organised non-league competition below that which would allow promotion/relegation as between League Two and the Conference in England but I agree with the crux of your arguments. Euro-Leagues are fanciful nonsense,Scottish football must change it's format and a weakened Rangers means a weaker SPL rendering the need for a knock out play-off for the title not only desirable but financially essential. I fear that we about to embark on a couple of years of knavel gazing however, which will do nobody any good at all.

  • Comment number 14.

    How can you effectively punish a club that has effectively had a stranglehold on the SFA for over 100 years and still has the power to have a former chairman appointed as head of an 'independent' enquiry into how they managed to go bust ? The SFA and SPL are a joke. They could not get away with not deducting points, but they will get away with no further punishment - despite already proving they have cheated and broken rules as well as going into administration. I hope all fellow Football fans and club officials will be challenging the appointment of Mr Ogilvie - if we don't, no club that is owed by rangers will get anything but more of the same - the bums rush. Ask Airdrieonians fans how sympathetic RFC were to their situation back in the day. In Scotland, it is still one law for the establishment club and a different one for everybody else. Time to call in the mortgage on the big hoose!

  • Comment number 15.

    The Scottish game would suffer from the loss of Rangers. No Doubt about it. The money form playing them alone keeps some of the teams in the SPL afloat. But they've goosed it up. Big time. The problem is that many clubs have tried their hardest to keep pace with their lavish spending over the past 10 years and got themselves into trouble.

    So even though the SPL has been dependent on them it is now a chance to wean oursleves away from the cash cow. The league now has a chance to change. Yes it would be a one horse race for the forseable future with no-one able to catch Celtic or stop them but at least the other teams might at least enjoy having a bit of a spell being second and aiming that little bit higher.

    Increase the League to 16, in line with our many similar sized countries and open up the competition in the league. Even if it is 15 teams battling for 2nd for the next 5 years it would be better than 10 teams trying not to get relegated!!

  • Comment number 16.

    @9 "Are you seriously trying to tell us that you think Scotland would still get 2 CL places without Rangers..?" Even WITH Rangers Scotland has already lost its second CL place from the start of the 2013/14 season. Even with Rangers AND Celtic Scottish clubs have been outperformed by Cyprus in 3 out of the last 4 seasons.

    "IMO, no Rangers, and the coefficient drops thru the floor." Wake up and smell the coffee. The coefficient has been dropping through the floor for years and the results will finally percolate through in 2013. We have dropped 3 places in the coefficient table this season alone from 15th to 18th. The good news is that we cannot lose any more European places until we drop to the level of Liechtenstein, San Marino and Andorra.

    But why let the facts get in the way of a good Rangers story, eh?

  • Comment number 17.

    Some of the comments on this page are laughable! From plucking points deductions for next season out of thin air to average crowds of 10,000 pre Murray.
    Yes there were some dire crowds pre SOUNESS, a mixture of the times and product on the pitch. Yet people seem to forget that in the three seasons prior to Souness coming in Rangers had the highest average in the league.

  • Comment number 18.

    One possibility few seem to consider, is having the administrators running Rangers throughout the whole of next season. A shareholder could raise court action to prove that Whyte breached the terms of the takeover agreement, and that therefore his floating charge is void. Like the delay on the big tax case this could delay for many months any choice between CVA and liquidation.
    Having the administrators run RFC next season would not be pleasant for the fans as the top players would leave in the summer for Championship clubs or lower. Ally would be left with a team only just strong enough to avoid relegation. And Celtic would probably give them four thrashings in a row. However the television money and the Rangers gate money would continue for a further season, giving the other clubs time to decide in a measured way how to reconstruct the SPL.

  • Comment number 19.

    As a non OF fan, I do agree that the Scottish game will be poorer (no pun intended) without Rangers.

    The SPL must improve it's governance of the Scottish clubs. The immediate impact of the Rangers case on clubs like Inverness, United, Dunfermline - and especially Hearts - could be horrific.

    Forget about retribution and arbitrary punishments based on petty rivalries!

    Why can't the SPL introduce some real regulation? - their "fit and proper person" rules have been exposed as useless in the example of CW, despite the findings of any retrospective review - the damage has well and truly been done there.

    How many other clubs are going to spend more than they can earn (or attract in the form of investment) and place the rest of the game in crisis? How many more clubs will fail over the coming years - will Hearts survive if Romanov walks away?

    As for the mystical and mysterious investors, waiting to pour money into the Scottish game - why would they? It's not as if anything outside the OF would have the potential to generate the income or the profile capable of creating a financial return.

  • Comment number 20.

    The league would survive just fine without Rangers. Even if there was a downturn in immediate revenue the other team would just get that bit stronger as they see their opportunity increase as jim quite rightly points out.

    Don't buy in to the media fan boys telling you that they sky will fall down and the whole world and everything in it will turn upside down...

    Rangers will die... Everyone else will have a party... the league will go on...

    Simple as that really

  • Comment number 21.

    I am surprised by the comments from the Arab meeting. I can think of a few occasions where Utd would most definitely benefit from the demise of Rangers. Mike McCurry's handling of the game at Ibrox has perhaps been forgotten? Craig Levein remains the only Scottish manager to accuse a referee of cheating that day.
    I recall the great days of 1980-86 where Aberdeen, Dundee Utd and Hearts all pushed Celtic for a share of the spoils. Europe did not take the new firm lightly either.
    The Sky deal is a red herring to keep the diddy teams in their place. Remember when Woolworths closed? How did we ever manage?

  • Comment number 22.

    If Dundee United were to get their house in order and nab a few second place finishes a few years in a row then i am sure we could see them emerge as a genuinely strong side in the SPL. They have consistently (along with Hibs in the past 5-10 years) produced the best young talent, a bit of consistent invenstment and they would easily fill the gap.

  • Comment number 23.

    Can the other clubs survive or prosper without the mighty Rangers?

    I dunno - but I'm excited about the prospect of giving it a bash.

    Bring it On!

  • Comment number 24.

    A good coefficient primarily helps the Old Firm to get into the group stages of the CL, thereby increasing the massive financial gap between them and the rest of the SPL. Therefore, a strong Rangers (or Celtic) is *bad* for the rest of the SPL. An extra Europa place hardly compensates.

    All-powerful OF teams means no chance of winning the league and less chance of winning a cup for everyone else. Which means they have literally nothing to play for.

    The last 20 years have been terrible for non-OF fans. Why on earth should we be trying to preserve the status quo by saving Rangers? Scottish football is dying in it's current state!

    I agree with Jim Spence. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure Scottish football. We must strive for more evenly shared resources and fairer voting rights for non-OF clubs.

    It is time to break the Old Firm dominance for the good of the game, not preserve it at all costs!

  • Comment number 25.

    Any league that requires one clubs survival to continue is in serious, serious trouble. I cannot believe that there are fans of clubs outside of Rangers actually saying that they need Rangers to be saved in some way.

    Why not simply re-write the rule book then to make sure that Celtic and Rangers are above all other laws? Run up debts and welch on them (that's fine we need you), Finish outside the top six (oops can't do that Sky TV will complain if they don't get their 4 matches), Need the odd bit of help from a referee (don't worry I'm looking the other way).

    Scottish football is broken, badly broken and this desperate need to cling on to the current model where 2 clubs run away with the title every season while other clubs pick up scraps thrown from their tables is frankly ludicrous.

    This is an opportunity to try and get real reform of the league structure and league governance, remember Scottish football before David Murray arrived? Aberdeen winning two European trophies, Dundee Utd reaching the UEFA cup final, Hearts coming within a game of winning the league title and Scotland reaching the 74, 78, 82 and 86 World Cups.

    Is none of that worth striving for again? or have we all heard the mantra that "The SPL is rubbish" too many times and we've now accepted our positions in the broken game, shrugging our shoulders and pining for Rangers survival as we need the money.

    Time to decide what sort of league you want, a bent one which is only interested in two clubs or a fully inclusive one which is more like the German model (5 different champions in the past 8 seasons).

  • Comment number 26.

    Rangers demise would hit every club financially and for Celtic reduce the quality of player they could attract to a one-horse league. The money would be reduced further by a 16 team league: as competitive as something that is just not very competitive at all.

    Instead of the question of which one of the OF would win the league, the new question will be when will Celtic wrap up the league. Although if I were in Celtic's shoes, this must be the catalyst to spur them to leave the Scottish game. Its no longer viable for a club of their size. No challenger will emerge anytime soon.

    The second place club will enter the non-seed stream of the CL. Unless finances grow suddenly and meaningfully, they will never reach the CL. To use the word 'realisitc' is a misnomer Jim. With the quality we have available at present we already struggle, giving the likes of Motherwell a shot reduces the chances even further.

    If liquidation happens Rangers will likely be re-admitted to the SPL. It will be wrong for reasons of fairness and integrity but the turkeys won't vote for x-mas, they'll vote for business as usual.

  • Comment number 27.

    And while we are at it can the SPL ensure that Aberdeen do not feature in any more Sky live games. They have zero entertainment value and its embarrassing to watch the recent live games involving non-OF clubs. The common denominator seems to be Craig Brown's team. Every club this guy has he turns football into a snore fest.

  • Comment number 28.

    wouldnt the prospect of another club qualifying for the champions league other than Rangers and Celtic every year be better for Scottish football as the revenue received for this club would be huge and possibly be a half decent advertisement for the league? depending on how they faired in the competition.

  • Comment number 29.

    Thanks Jim for airing some of the views held by the majority of fans - there are not many journalists giving serious thought to the opportunities presented by Rangers' current meltdown.

    I find some of the comments laughable.

    Suggestions that our coefficient is in some way a justification for forgiving Rangers their various violations of the sporting integrity of Scottish football find no resonance with me.

    Suggestions that Rangers and Celtic must remain at their current level of pre-eminence while the other clubs should raise their game are naive at best and insultingly ignorant at worst. Perhaps those professing such views would like to detail how the diddy clubs have been intentionally not trying hard enough? I recall many clubs getting in terrible trouble trying to compete financially with Rangers in particular at the turn of the milennium. The fact that Rangers' spending at that time was totally unsustainable, relying on a MIH/bank bail out, some fortunate Champions League appearances and possible tax evasion, should make us realise that it was a ridiculous bubble whose bursting we are yet to recover from.

    Suggestions that diddy clubs should find £10m in investment has me scratching my head. Perhaps the oxymoron of "football investment" has thrown me. Does the suggester of this have anyone in mind? Someone like Mr Romanov? What about Mr Whyte? Sir/Mr David Murray? John Boyle? Ask Stephen Thompson at Dundee United how his family's "investment" in the club is going.

    I would ask anyone who assumes a return to the status quo of the OF dominating is best for Scottish football to consider:
    1 - what would be involved in ushering Rangers back to a position of joint pre-eminence? Would this in any way cheapen, compromise or corrupt the sporting integrity of Scottish football?
    2 - do Rangers deserve favours from every club and institution they have manipulated and beaten for decades with money they didn't have?
    3 - is Scottish football so great just now that we must immediately revert to the current situatioin whatever the moral and sporting cost?

    I could go on and on, but to pass up on an opportunity like this to improve the future of Scottish football just to preserve Rangers' status in the game would risk turning fans against Scottish football forever.

  • Comment number 30.

    Two problems with the notion that Dundee United/Hibs or anyone else can fill Rangers role as challengers to Celtic. firstly even if domestically successful they could not compete in Europe and Scotlands entrant numbers would continue to diminish. Secondly,the stadia they play in are not big enough. There is no benefit in having 100,000 people wanting to watch you if you can only get 18,000 in. The knavel gazing has begun. No Rangers will render Scottish football uncompetitive but even with Rangers the format has to change because frankly nobody is interested in it as it stands. Crowds are pitiful,players of any promise are off to England before they start shaving. Managers regard the non-OF clubs as stepping stones to the English game.TV has next to no interest in the 'product'.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lets be realistic even with a ten point deduction Rangers are still in a comfortable second place.
    I think this only highlights the plight of Scottish football at league level and at international level.
    No home grown talent no competition no chance in Europe.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nobody has been interested in either a change in the rules regarding administration or expansion of the SPL until it happens to an Old Firm team. I'm sure Dundee, Gretna, Motherwell and Livingston will appreciate that

  • Comment number 33.

    Lets face it, the possibilities of Motherwell, Hearts, St Johnstone, United or anyone else (probably even Celtic) actually qualifying for the CL are slim to none. They might get the chance to play in the qualifying rounds, but they'll soon get thrashed.

    As for the notion that everyone else in Scotland needs a strong Rangers to grace us with their presence at our stadiums twice a season, what a load of nonsense. Tannadice rarely sells out for OF games these days. It was one thing when i) we could actually compete against them or ii) they were at least thrashing you with world class talents like Laudrup, Larsson, Gascoigne, Di Canio etc (who it turns out at least 1 of them couldn't afford), but the thought of watching United get beaten by such mediocrities as Kirk Broadfoot, Charlie Mulgrew etc is hardly mouth watering. Also, if Rangers are coming a distant second every season their support (both home and away) will plummet anyway.

  • Comment number 34.

    For those that think we need rangers read this link

    http://wingsland.podgamer.com/why-scotland-doesnt-need-rangers/#more-14712

    I certainly think my team could get by without them

  • Comment number 35.

    Govie10

    UEFA will also enjoy the prospect of a team stiffing it's creditors including the Tax man and being allowed back into the top flight because "we need them". One rule for one one rule for another.

  • Comment number 36.

    Got to agree with Ferry_Arab and others regarding 'plumeting attendances' if Rangers are a weakened force. When Hibs (sorry Hibee fans) were relegated the attendances in Div 1 actually went up because the fans had a product they enjoyed and they were winning every week, accept the first 5 games if I remember rightly! If Rangers go into liquidation Celtic would more than likely end up in the English league system. There is a growing acceptance of Celtic fans ready to accept the club being invited into the Conference league and playing their way up the divisions; this would therefore allow the SPL to become competative and no one will change my opionion that attendances would grow within provincial clubs if there is a chance of league/cup glory. So overall the term 'Old Firm' should be made redundant; Celtic indeed do not need Rangers, and I made add neither do the other clubs in the country...

  • Comment number 37.

    You can bet that UEFA will be intent on banning Rangers from European competition for quite a few years as an example to others.

  • Comment number 38.

    @sirbrido24
    "Celtic would more than likely end up in the English league system. There is a growing acceptance of Celtic fans ready to accept the club being invited into the Conference league and playing their way up the divisions"

    That's a lot of accepting the inevitable. Whenever did this become possible, never mind inevitable?

  • Comment number 39.

    I understand that Celtic are in continous talks with all parties in England; they have never hidden their desire to play in the English league. People fixate on the EPL and if this was possible Celtic would grab this with both hands but the reality is that it would be more likely that they wouls start in the conference; it is also my understanding the majority of fans would accept this.

  • Comment number 40.

    Some interesting comments, glad to see there is till ideas and passion in our football.
    Scottish football needs to change, nothing could be clearer. Non-OF fans have been decreasing steadily since the late 90's. Why? Because there is very little prospect of glory for the rest of us. Fans are less likely to go see their team when it is unlikely anything will happen for them in the next decade (especialy with the prices so high). Also the young are mostly attracted to success and a whole generation of football fans across Scotland has been lost to the OF. The status quo was destroying our game, something had to change.
    IMO this could not have come any later. There are several clubs with large enough fan-bases that could recover some of the ground we have lost. The main problem is the stadiums, forcing all-seated on us has limited the potential growth of the middle sized clubs. Safe-standing areas might help to get a few more in but it is still a significant problem. Dundee United had 30,000 fans at the cup final in 2010 and Hearts would probably have got that number for most games during the first season of Romanov when they finished 2nd and won the cup (without bigger stadiums no clubs can realistically challenge financially with Celtic).
    With Rangers blunted for a few seasons the prospect of cup wins at the least becomes more likely for every team in Scotland. There will likely be an increase in home-fan turnout without any extra spending required (the loss of a few Rangers fans just isn't that big a deal, sorry). With many of our clubs on a relatively sound financial footing now (note relatively) and concentrating on bringing through youth there are profits to be made at the very least.
    Increasing the leauge is a good idea as it makes it more likely another team could challenge Celtic. Hope is what is going to get non-OF fans back through the turnstiles, even if it is a forlorn hope.

  • Comment number 41.

    Glasgrecian @ 8.59

    Souness joined Rangers in summer of 1986, after Celtic had won the league on the last day when Hearts slipped up in Dundee. Average crowds that season were Celtic 25335, Rangers 25146 and Hearts 16196 so Rangers were not the top attendances before his arrival. You are right that Rangers had top crowds in 84 and 85 however, but these were still only 21000, when Aberdeen had average crowds of 16 to 17000 at the same time.

    In Souness 1st season your attendances rose from 25000 to 36000 rising to 49000 at the end of Smith's 1st period in charge. That is a lot of fans attracted by the glory of winning trophies.

    At any club success will attract more supporters, Hearts 2nd place finish in 2006 saw their crowds go from 12000 to 17000, Motherwell this season attendances are up 10% on last season, their first annual increase since 2005.

    Jim Spence is correct, the demise of Rangers may lead to opportunities for other clubs outside Glasgow, and it's hugely disrespectful to those clubs to think otherwise. That might not mean winning the league , but 2nd or 3rd place and European football is surely achievable for many of them now.

  • Comment number 42.

    #34
    Interesting piece to read. With just a skim through, the premise seems to be that a diminished Rangers (for a couple of years at least) would probably be compensated for by greater non-OF attendances as non-OF fans believed that they had a greater chance of winning something. A couple of thoughts:

    1). That 'competitiveness' would unlikely to be realised across the board by ALL clubs and not all would experience a boost, and neither would this boost be regular for ALL clubs across a season (if any).

    2). That attendances are not just the only revenue stream and the figures exclude (presumably because you would not have them to hand) revenues from match-day corporate/ business sponsorship & hospitality, which is greater during televised games per se, and when the OF visit. Take the games off Sky/ ESPN and onto other smaller cable channels with less exposure?

    3). That a league (even temporarily) without Rangers would have to reduce ticket prices, which leaves the issue of how the projected attendance figures you give would be then affected by this and also by a diminshed quality of player on show. Would more people really watch a league of Kirk Broadfoot clones trying to kick a ball because they might have a better chance of winning the League Cup?

    4). That ultimately non-OF clubs would still be faced with the insurmountable gap with Celtic.

  • Comment number 43.

    I aplologise of course to anyone offended in my last post by my suggestion that Kirk Broadfoot actually played football.

  • Comment number 44.

    The current setup in Scotland clearly exists to benefit the OF at the expense of everyone else. The OF's relative capacity (to European clubs) has been falling for years, while remaining steady against the other Scottish clubs.

    A smaller SPL benefits the OF while a larger SPL benefits the other smaller clubs. Playing Celtic and Rangers only 6 or 4 times a season rather than the current 8 lowers the opportunity for lost points while increasing the potential gains elsewhere.

    Losing Rangers would lose the SPL TV money- but who can honestly say that would make a huge difference to the 10 other SPL teams? the OF get the VAST majority of TV money anyway. A small share of something is no different than a bigger share of less.


    The SPL needs to become more competitive- the OF have been in rapid decline relative to the other European teams due to their poor spending and their role in lowering the quality of the league. The SPL needs to expand to 16 teams and play summer football- SKY is crying out to show football over the summer, and the UK market simply doesn't want to watch Irish and Norwegian football- a summer SPL would make far more money than it currently does.


    With or without Rangers, the SPL needs to become more competitive and adopt changes that make sense. Allowing the OF to win more in the current setup is not good for Scottish football and it has not been good for either club in the long term. Time to make some long overdue changes, or risk losing yet more ground to the like of the Czechs, Slovenians and the Croats (because yes, that's where the SPL compares in terms of quality these days)

  • Comment number 45.

    sirbrido24

    I cannot see either old firm team being invited to any English League.

    There is too much baggage. The poppygate banner was all over the press (what happened with this - Celtic promised action - or is only refs that get sacked for telling porkies?), the pro-terrorist organisation element of the support, waving the tricolour - I can't see it. People were killed in England - would you want that? The same reasoning applies to Rangers - especially in Manchester. Nowhere in England wants sectarian chants and attitudes -

    The neddish element of each teams support would have to leave or grow-up and realise that nobody else in football gives a damn about their special histories/politics, and that most of us consider football a game, not a political movement. Till then, we're probably stuck with them

  • Comment number 46.

    @42

    Not sure any of those comments hold much water.

    1. The history of the SPL outwith the OF is that in fact the other teams DO share out the spoils pretty evenly. Look how many different teams have had a shot at 3rd or 4th over the last decade or so, or indeed made cup finals.

    2. The article already allows for greatly reduced TV and related income - probably too much so, in fact.

    3. This just doesn't make sense at all. Fans already turn up in greater numbers when their team is more competitive, at current prices. So why would anyone need to lower their price for a game against Hibs, say, just because Rangers aren't in the league? What possible difference does that fact make to Hibs v Kilmarnock?

    4. But the whole point, as the feature shows, is that it's NOT insurmountable. Historically when one of the OF has been weak, other teams HAVE closed the gap with considerable success. The truth is that Scottish football can survive having one of them as a parasite, but not both. There just isn't enough blood to go round, and with two of them sucking it out everyone ends up worse off.

  • Comment number 47.

    The only thing stopping Celtic playing in the Premier League is their refusal to fly the English and Union flags at Celtic park as per EPL rules. The EPL has said the flag of Ireland is not permitted. Once they overcome this rule they will be accepted in.

  • Comment number 48.

    @45 et al,

    Celtic Or Rangers will not be invited to the English league setup not because the big boys upstairs are worried that the baggage associated with the 2 clubs might offend Home County sensibilities but because SKY did the maths and the upheaval and expense of doing so is not worth the circa 5% increase in Sky Sports subscriptions that such a move would bring according to SKY's own projections in a study they commissioned about 8 years ago- there's a link somewhere on RTC. Any other reason for not doing so is at best window dressing: it's not going to pay so it doesn't happen.

  • Comment number 49.

    What nonsense about why the OF will or will not be "invited" to join the EPL or Conference. Justify that in any way. Go on.

    The reason they cannot join the English setup, invited or not, is that they are Scottish. If clubs can elect to join other national leagues, the system of national associations throughout Europe and the world will be destroyed and barely anyone wants that.

    Anyway, it's an unnecessary distraction from the issues Spencey has raised. How do we improve Scottish football, and does the problem Rangers have inflicted upon themselves and the rest of us also present us with a great opportunity?

  • Comment number 50.

    I think it will all be a bit clearer when the administrators publish their interim report and any redundancies in playing staff are announced. the administrators barely over a week ago were say many positive things, I get the feeling the more they have dug, the quicker that positivity has dried up.
    If your a rangers fan in still in some sort of denial as to what an outcome might be just note how mant times commentators are now using the phrase "possible liquidation"
    If the administrators can't wriggle out of the HMRC and ticketus debts then no one, repeat no one is going to stump up £90m to pay off old creditors. that will not happen. we'll get a good idea in the next 24 hours

  • Comment number 51.

    #46
    As I said I thought the piece was interesting and thanks for replying. I fully understand the terms of the article as outlined in your 4). I would agree with you that it isn't insurmountable but that it does come with cost and its the speculation on what that would mean for the game that is interesting for me.

    There are lots of unknowns there always are. So for your points above:

    1). I think my point here was that greater competitveness would not necessarily be reflected in higher or compenatory attendances at ALL clubs. Even in a Rangers-reduced SPL, will Dunfermilne get more people in the gate because they have a greater 'paper' chance of winning a cup? Or would still getting dumped most weeks discourage most to stay away. To my mind the only increases would come at clubs like Aberdeen, DUTD and the 2 Edinburgh teams, and probably only then if you increased the quality on offer and/ or reduced the gate prices.

    2). take your point on this one.

    3). It makes perfect sense when you consider recent calls by many fans for reduced entry as a means to a). get more punters through the door, and b). better reflect the quality on offer already. Perceptions of greater competitiveness alone might not just be enough if the player quality diminshes even further than we have at present. I would doubt that clubs could still justify their already 'high' prices by removing one of the OF clubs.

    4). Other teams (i.e better coaching) have historically reduced the resource gap which in the 80's was about x4 between the OF and the others but these days up until the recent Rangers fiasco was in the region of x10. The other factor which helped teams in the 80's sustain competition was their ability to keep their players. Bosman changed that.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51

    The point is that it wouldn't just be a "paper" chance. Even WITH both of the Old Firm, look how many clubs have made finals recently - if Queen Of The South can do it, who can't? Look at the way Aberdeen, for example, have yo-yoed between 3rd/4th and 10th/11th in last few years. Or the Gretna adventure, for all its ending.

    As for reduced ticket prices, I actually totally agree that lower prices would probably make more money through increased attendances in general. I just don't think that's related to the OF in any way, but rather a general principle. I have no idea how people afford to go to games now. Anyone paying £40-50 a head (including travel, food, programme etc) to go and see St Mirren v Inverness is pretty much my definition of someone who has too much money...

  • Comment number 53.

    Well written piece Jim.

  • Comment number 54.

    @52 if your a home supporter the cost for st mirren v inverness is £20, don't know how you make that £50?
    I can assure you if the gate is 4500 then there's probably only 1000 programmes sold, and with a pie at less than £2 perhaps £22 for the day!

  • Comment number 55.

    Theres a lot of nonsense on here, most clubs would be happy for Rangers to die and Celtic will soon follow.

    Motherwell have by far been the most consistant team in the SPL over the last 4-5 years. Having good managers and brining in youth and talented free agents to produce a team fighting top 4 for a long time.

    Motherwell have Europa experience now and the 3 seasons they participated in Uefa they got closer each year to the group stages.

    I was at the game against Odense and i cant beleive we didnt win it, we cut them apart and the decisions did not go our way unfortunately.

    Motherwell and Dundee United are the most likely to challange for 2nd in the future and Celtic will fall much like rangers as the TV money wont be there.

  • Comment number 56.

    I certainly would not be confident that Celtic could stay as ahead of the rest without Rangers. Their decleration that they don't need Rangers is simply rubbish.


    They have shown for years that it takes them 4 or 5 players at a £million or so each to find 1 decent player. Take away that money- when they can't just harvest the Hibs first team and they won't be able to remain competitive.

    I'd far rather put my money on DUTD or Motherwell to make an orderly transition into a league without a strong Rangers.

  • Comment number 57.

    There is hope. Motherwell's home gates have gone up since the collapse of Rangers.

    Celtic or Rangers will NOT be going to England for the very reasons sensible folks have pointed out on this very blog.
    It has nothing to do with parochial flag waving crap and the sectarian baggage nonsense. Do you think its any worse than the Millwall v West Ham capers? Its not happening now, or in the future.
    What is happening, is a juncture where Scottish football can either seize an opportunity or continue to wither under the stale Celtic/Rangers status quo. (both unable to defeat Malmo or Sion)
    I'm a Celtic fan but I'm longing for change and a clean break from pseudo religious lunatics. I’m fed up going onto football sites and reading about everything except football.
    As Peter Lawell has told everyone, Celtic have a plan. Has the rest of Scottish football?

  • Comment number 58.

    What is the point in a Competition if 2 of the members can spend more than 10 times more than the rest?

    That is not a competition.

    I would give Celtic (and Rangers if they still exist) an ultimatum. Even TV money and any clubs that make Europe have to share some of the proceeds with the rest of the league - or leave. Take it or leave it.

    The SPL without either would be a decent standard but more importantly a great competition. The attendance figures outwith the Old Firm would suggest a Scandinacian quality league. Dont even both trying to compare to Wales or Ireland as our Scottish 1st Division is currently bigger and better supported than both!

    The top 2 slots in the SPL are geared to giving the Old Firm more money, theres the Euro money on top of the extra advertising revenue and Season Tickets they can pull in.

    Well they need 10 others to make a league unless they want to play each other 40 times - time of the Non-OF chairmen to grow as set.

    If nothing is changed I wont be going back - I like many other non-OF fans will just stop and watch the EPL on Sky and the odd local game (Highland league for me).

    In fact the last Highland league game I watched was far more entertaining than most SPL games - with far less cash involved - so forget the Old Firm and cash. Forget about Euro co-efficients - lets just have a competitive Scottish top league.

    The media have loved their 2 horse race for years and try and pretend we are all excited over it - wrong - they are and some old firm fans are. The rest of us are watching the EPL as were fed up of it.

    The likes of Chic Young just cares about his next Euro jaunt. Lets kick these guys into touch - the Scottish league should be for the Scottish fans. Not hijacked by 2 teams that would rather be in England an a media that just wants to look important to the World "OF biggest game etc etc".

    The rest cannot "rise up" to the Old Firm when they pull 90% of the resources.

    Its time for an ultimatum.

  • Comment number 59.

    Liquidation could be the making of Rangers. A new Rangers would have to apply to join the league structure again.

    Now you can't tell me I'm the only one thinking this.......why would they apply to join the Scottish League structure? Would that not be the perfect time for them to apply for a Conference placing at the bottom of the English Leagues?

    Cue Celtic liquidation.....

  • Comment number 60.

    There is simply nothing for non-OF fans to get excited about. Same old story every season. 1 of them win the league, as well as both cups. Sectarian chanting and complaints about referees.

    Then the next season they embarrass Scotland in Europe.

    My only disappointment every season is that they can't both get 0 points from an OF encounter.

  • Comment number 61.

    Good post Trimmtrab.

    What about giving the bottom of the league teams the most prize money? And enforcing the use of the prize money in investment in the team?

  • Comment number 62.

    @54 Sure, but it's an attempted ballpark sort of average for following your team over a season, and it's a long way from Inverness to Paisley...

    (Also, it's five years since I was in a Scottish football ground but can you still get a pie and a Bovril for £2?)

  • Comment number 63.

    @60 "There is simply nothing for non-OF fans to get excited about. Same old story every season. 1 of them win the league, as well as both cups."

    Broadly true, but in fact only 6 of the last 10 seasons have been a clean sweep of all three trophies for the OF. And of the 40 cup final places over that period, non-OF teams have occupied 21 of them - so they at least had a fighting chance of taking a cup. A Rangers-free Scottish football would see trophies very much up for grabs.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes, the total mismanagement whether the buck stop at Mr Murrys door or Mr Whytes door at Ibrox, will certainly (or should) give the Motherwell, Dundee Utd and Hearts the confidence to mount a serious challenge for a higher league finish!

    No-one can deny that investment wise a league without Rangers will offer a lower revenue stream for all concerned!

    However the questions I have are, 1 should we really accept that so many people appear willing to bend over backwards to help Rangers out from a situation they are completely self responsible for getting themselves into, in their words to help the league and the Scottish game as a whole, or should we be doing more to condem the mismanagement style used at Ibrox! All clubs should be treated as equal, but I do kind of understand the need to see if Rangers can be kept a float and as a benefit to our game!

    Every club has had to cut its cloth accordingly in this more challenging economic climate, however it seems Rangers attempted to continue spending hoping continual champions league money would get them out of trouble.

    Speculate to accumulate is a much loved phrase, however in this case I think the penny has finally dropped!

    I have no idea what the solution for Scottish football is, but the models should be a lot closer to the German League model than the English League model!

    Let's hope Scottish football thrives after this blot on the landscape of our game!

  • Comment number 65.

    JIM - the flaw in your blog is that scotland already do not have 2 champions legue place and frankly with or without rangers they do no have a prayer of getting it back.... we are a small country. we must face that,.

    People are rightly pointing out that although TV revenue counts for very little in Scottish football (Might i point out thhat's why Celtic don't give a hoot what happens to rangers nor the other teams, only the fat cats administering the SPL!!) it is indeed fair to say that the biggest gates for teams can be against old firm. But is that not a stark problem with our game? To fair, thankfully, local derbies still usually attract highest gates in edinburgh, but local derbies should be by far the most important gates... surely if gate revenue is the most important income stream it would rather help if people supported their local team??

    It is fair to assume that IF rangers fall then as many people will still want to watch football.. they might actually start turning up at their local grounds instead.. it may also (perhaps being hopeful) bring and end to all the sectarian nonsense!! Posters on here have rightly pointed out that Rangers did not used to be the giant they became and Jim has rightly previously written the other clubs used to be bigger! there is a correlation there! Poster on here are right to point out Celtic and Rangers 'are the SPL', that was how the SPL was branded. But that bubble has well and truly burst! They are not an elite, Champions league will be a struggle even for Celtic. lets get on with it and make the domestic league the best we can.

    No one should be surprised by dundee utd's comments. I was personally told by the SPL that a 16 team league was the ideal aim in the long term and the 10 team thing was only ever meant to be a stepping stone.. i think the river has somewhat washed that stone away now so we may well have to jump straight to the other side!!

    yes 16 team leagues is probabaly too few games. we need a winter break anyway but maybe still too few... european football will make up shortfall for one club at most so we would have to re arrange our domestic football to fit.

    For me i would re arrange the Communities cup to have a seeded group stage of 8 groups of 4 from the SPL 1 and 2 32. it would be a really great way of getting a big gate or two for the smaller teams in SPL2. It might even be suggested that you could play the tournament like a World Cup over a coupple of weeks before the league starts to generate real i

  • Comment number 66.

    Rangers WILL still EXIST, no matter the outcome, wether it be Administration or liquidation. Once the dust has settled, which will eventually happen then people will come in and ensure that the NEw Rangers is run properly. With the Huge fan base that Rangers have there is always going to be demand for them to be there is osme way shae and form and from demand we have people who will meet the needs. So Scottish football will in the longer term not change. New TV rights will be drawn up. There may be a decline in the first couple fo years as Rangers struggle to get a hold but all will come good for them. And this is from a Celtic Fan.

  • Comment number 67.

    Half of the responses here are completely irrelevant, as the possibility of Rangers going out of business and not being replaced by a new Rangers are absolute zero. It would never be allowed to happen. The question is should Rangers be allowed to retain SPL status if they go under and that will become clearer over the weeks and months to come.

    Worst-case scenario (for Rangers I should add!), they need to start again from the Third Division. So you'd be looking at 3 seasons with reduced TV money and gate receipts - surely it is inconceivable they would not get promoted every year. I find it unvelievably arrogant to suggest that clubs could not cut their cloth accordingly for a maximum of 3 years.

    Never mind a club the size of Celtic. How much of their income is really derived from the relatively pathetic Sky TV deal? It's laughable to suggest they couldn't survive when you consider the assets in their squad and youth players like McGeady and Forrest being produced. Worst-case scenario, more of them get a chance in the first team (and even still that would be a long way off IMO).

    I'm sure gate receipts for the other sides would not be as reduced as many say anyway, given they would have a better chance of a higher finish if Rangers were playing in a lower league. No matter what anyone says, that always brings more home fans to games. Rangers will also be weaker for years to come if they need to pay a huge tax bill over a number of years, which could also sustain higher home crowds from the other sides.

  • Comment number 68.

    Without both Rangers and Celtic, there wouldnt be 2 Champions League places......infact, its only because of Rangers that the SPL are being given 2 champions league places in the first place. I for one cant honestly believe that the powers that be will make Rangers extinct, if they do, then we will be on a par with leagues such as Estonia and Wales.

  • Comment number 69.

    kdyteejay @10:58 - an excellent article, thanks for the link.

    drcarol @ 12:17 - you may be correct that both Glasgow teams have an element of their support which they could do without, but you somewhat weaken your argument when you state that the waving of the tricolour is supporting terrorism. This is the flag of Ireland, a sovereign country, and one which is waved, without adverse comment, at many grounds in England and Wales, including in Manchester, Birmingham and London, along with Uruguayan flags, Danish flags and flags of every other nation. Sadly it is only in Scotland that an Irish flag is seen as offensive.

  • Comment number 70.

    49. At 12:57 28th Feb 2012, JockHigh wrote:
    What nonsense about why the OF will or will not be "invited" to join the EPL or Conference. Justify that in any way. Go on.

    The reason they cannot join the English setup, invited or not, is that they are Scottish. If clubs can elect to join other national leagues, the system of national associations throughout Europe and the world will be destroyed and barely anyone wants that.

    Anyway, it's an unnecessary distraction from the issues Spencey has raised. How do we improve Scottish football, and does the problem Rangers have inflicted upon themselves and the rest of us also present us with a great opportunity?
    ------------------------
    Nonsense, a new Rangers(or any club for that matter), could apply to join the conference leagues, as they are an entirely new club. This is what the likes of Cardiff, Swansea, Berwick etc have done when these leagues began

  • Comment number 71.

    @68 "Without both Rangers and Celtic, there wouldnt be 2 Champions League places......infact, its only because of Rangers that the SPL are being given 2 champions league places in the first place."

    Um, no. Champions League places are earned, not awarded. They depend on a country's UEFA coefficient.

  • Comment number 72.

    69. At 15:02 28th Feb 2012, cardiffbhoy wrote:
    kdyteejay @10:58 - an excellent article, thanks for the link.

    drcarol @ 12:17 - you may be correct that both Glasgow teams have an element of their support which they could do without, but you somewhat weaken your argument when you state that the waving of the tricolour is supporting terrorism. This is the flag of Ireland, a sovereign country, and one which is waved, without adverse comment, at many grounds in England and Wales, including in Manchester, Birmingham and London, along with Uruguayan flags, Danish flags and flags of every other nation. Sadly it is only in Scotland that an Irish flag is seen as offensive.
    ---------------
    I think its more the pro IRA chants that offend people, but thats a whole other story.

  • Comment number 73.

    @68 "Without both Rangers and Celtic, there wouldnt be 2 Champions League places......infact, its only because of Rangers that the SPL are being given 2 champions league places in the first place."

    Um, no. Champions League places are earned, not awarded. They depend on a country's UEFA coefficient.
    --------------
    And which teams are earning the co-effiecient? Lose Rangers and well only get 1 CL place, something I dont see changing for many years, if at all. Thats the reality. And all this talk of stripping Rangers of titles earned in the last 10 years...ok lets do it, whilst were at it that would probably mean strip the co-effiecient points in those seasons too, for which I doubt Scotland would even get 1 place in the CL after that.

  • Comment number 74.

    @69 "This is the flag of Ireland, a sovereign country, and one which is waved, without adverse comment, at many grounds in England and Wales, including in Manchester, Birmingham and London, along with Uruguayan flags, Danish flags and flags of every other nation. Sadly it is only in Scotland that an Irish flag is seen as offensive."

    That's a terribly disingenuous comment. Firstly, because as far as I know no CLUB in any of those cities flies the tricolour from its stadium, and secondly because any appearances in the stands are isolated and not part of a concerted statement about identity. There are *thousands* of them at every Celtic game, and rarely ever a Saltire.

    If you want to make a big song and dance about being "Irish", fair play to you. Just don't get huffy when the people whose country you're in don't take kindly to your insistence that you're not one of them.

  • Comment number 75.

    @67 "Worst-case scenario (for Rangers I should add!), they need to start again from the Third Division."

    That's not the WORST-case scenario. Rangers have no divine right of entry to ANY part of the Scottish league system - many clubs have been waiting decades to get in. The *reality* is of course that New Rangers would be admitted straight to the SPL, but they have no RIGHT to be, and it's theoretically perfectly possible that the SPL and SFL could grow a pair overnight and tell them to get lost.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Jim Spence

    Hi Jim and others who complained about the apparent treatment of this blog.
    I finally received a response following my complaints about the lack of frequency/time to debate and apparent desire to remove the blog entirely.

    It was forwarded on behalf of the Head of BBC Scotland Interactive who said this,
    " Thanks for your comments regarding Jim Spence's blog. The blog is an important part of our coverage on Scottish football and there is no desire or policy, to cut short the length of time it appears on our website, or to reduce the time in which our users can comment on the subject matter.

    Jim Spence's remit includes commenting on some of the burning issues surrounding Scottish football and he will continue to do so for our network.

    We hope you continue to enjoy our coverage of Scottish sport and appreciate your comments".

    It appears then that the blog is safe but we should continue to monitor the frequency and length of time it's available for debate to ensure that the assurances are accurate.

    Keep up the good work, Jim.

  • Comment number 78.

    @73 "And which teams are earning the co-effiecient? Lose Rangers and well only get 1 CL place, something I dont see changing for many years, if at all. Thats the reality. And all this talk of stripping Rangers of titles earned in the last 10 years...ok lets do it, whilst were at it that would probably mean strip the co-effiecient points in those seasons too, for which I doubt Scotland would even get 1 place in the CL after that."

    And what use is a good coefficient to ICT, Dunfermline, Hibernian, Falkirk, Dundee and the rest of Scottish football?

    Even teams like Dundee Utd and Motherwell only get minor benefit from the coefficient. I would rather see a fair and competitive SPL than the current situation in which the OF dominate every season.

    The coefficient is not an end in itself. Helping the OF to do well in Europe (and make millions in the process) is detrimental to Scottish football as a whole because it maintains their dominance over everyone else.

  • Comment number 79.

    #74 I think you said it's been about 5 years since you attended a football match and it shows.
    Ther are not "thousands" of tricolours at Celtic matches so don't make comments you can't support.

    Oh and by the way, it's £2 for a Bovril alone, don't expect you'll be hurrying back ?

  • Comment number 80.

    Gilly1980

    Pro IRA chants are offensive, the Irish flag is not - that is my point, which you are choosing to ignore.

    and Rev S Campbell, I honestly couldn't tell you which flags fly above the stands of grounds in England, but I think if you researched it you may be surprised. I am not "Irish" , but Celtic as a club have a right to officially display the flag in support for their founding fathers, as do any club in the UK.

    I was making the point that the Irish flag is not the flag of an outlawed terrorist organisation as some would like to imply.

    The debate today is not about the Irish flag, it's about whether the SPL needs Rangers. The success of Danish football and Swiss football in raising their UEFA coefficient through largely one successful domestic side, Copenhagen and Basle respectively, would tend to disprove the theory that a country needs 2 strong teams gaining coefficient points. If clubs such as Dundee United can retain their better players then they might be more competitive when they gain a European place.

  • Comment number 81.

    1 down. 1 to go.

  • Comment number 82.

    Good blog Jim and despite some of the deflective rubbish posted it does raise some valid points.

    Despite my obvious affinity and the fact that I've enjoyed every joke/text/video and banner about Rangers and their self inflicted troubles there is a serious issue here.

    Over the last couple of seasons we've debated at great length the state of the Scottish game and bemoaned the fact that no one in authority was paying any attention to our views on league reorganisation and other initiatives.

    Now because Rangers have broken the rules there are those who deem a 10 point deduction sufficient punishment and would prefer the SPL to roll on as before, albeit with new control at Ibrox.
    That would not be good for the taxpayer or for the credibility of Scottish football.
    Rangers need to be punished for what they did in respect of non-payment of tax and if the big tax case also goes against them that too deserves punishment not just to act as a deterrent but on moral grounds.
    If whoever ends up in control at Ibrox wants the Rangers name to carry any weight ever again they need to live up to their responsibilities and repay all the tax they withheld from the UK taxpayer, that's us by the way, plus any fines that may be levied.

    Rangers will survive in some form or other and that was never in doubt but it doesn't mean that they should simply carry on as before.

    Scottish football has a golden opportunity to progress in a democratic fashion and for clubs outwith Celtic and Rangers to move forward.
    The television deal will survive in some form because Celtic are always going to attract viewers and no tv company is going to cut off that stream of revenue.
    Rangers are likely to be financially hamstrung for some time unless some middle eastern sugar daddy emerges to take control and this should be an opportunity for the other SPL clubs to improve every aspect of their club.

    The SPL ,clubs in other words, need to seize the moment because they'll probably never have another opportunity like this and if they don't they will have no one else to blame.

  • Comment number 83.

    Rev S Campbell, are you the same RevStu who wrote the article on Wings over Scotland ?

  • Comment number 84.

    Let's not forget who put Rangers in this position....... RANGERS. That's who.
    And for those who think the other teams need them to survive?
    The fact is that Rangers and Celtic get the vast majority of the TV revenue. They get to keep their own gates receipts.
    They take more from our clubs than they give.
    Yes. It is true that if Rangers were to go by the wayside moneys from the likes of SKY and ESPN would reduce but, if the rest of the clubs' boards have the bawls they can ensure they get a higher percentage of the smaller purses.
    The amount that Rangers, and Celtic fans swell the coffers of the rest needs to be looked at closely.
    A club like Saint Mirren may get an extra 1,500 at the OF games. Multiply that by four, at best. Take into account thatm, if Saints had a better chance of getting higher up the league, their own attendances may increase on a fortnoghtly basis anbd it doesn't take a genius to realise that it would merely need an extra 400 punters through the gate regularilly to offset those missing OF fans. And thepolice presence for those games wouldn't be needed.
    There certainly is an argument for believing in life after either or both of the terrible twins.
    At the end of the day Rangers, or rather, tehir current and previous custodians, made their beds and now should be made to lie in it. Whether it filled with the proverbial or not.
    No liquidation this year though please as it would affect my club more than most, points wise!

  • Comment number 85.

    @73 "And which teams are earning the co-effiecient?"

    Depends which ones are in Europe. Aberdeen made the last 32 of the Europa League three or four seasons back, which is a lot more than Rangers managed this year.

  • Comment number 86.

    @80 "I was making the point that the Irish flag is not the flag of an outlawed terrorist organisation as some would like to imply. "

    I didn't imply (or mean) such a thing, and didn't see anyone else doing so either. I just pointed out it was extremely dishonest to pretend that the situation with tricolours at Parkhead was even remotely akin to any other ground in the UK.

    @82 "The SPL ,clubs in other words, need to seize the moment because they'll probably never have another opportunity like this and if they don't they will have no one else to blame."

    Absolutely correct. If the SPL has any guts at all it will refuse to admit a New Rangers by any means other than promotion earned by rising up through the SFL. I doubt that it does, though - the other clubs suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

    @83 Yes.

  • Comment number 87.

    "The league would survive just fine without Rangers. Even if there was a downturn in immediate revenue the other team would just get that bit stronger as they see their opportunity increase as jim quite rightly points out.

    Don't buy in to the media fan boys telling you that they sky will fall down and the whole world and everything in it will turn upside down...

    Rangers will die... Everyone else will have a party... the league will go on...

    Simple as that really"

    And in the real world what would actually happen is less TV money would come into the league, weaker teams would get knocked out in the early stages of the CL thus ruining the coefficient rankings and end with Scotland losing it's second qualifying spot, which then results in less TV money coming in to the league, a weaker Celtic getting knocked out in the early stages of the CL and you can see where I'm going with this

    In short. No Rangers means people outside of Scotland care even less about the SPL and believe me no one outside Scotland really cares that much anyway. I pay more attention to the Portuguese league than I do the Scottish

  • Comment number 88.

    All business should pay their tax - its legally and morally wrong not to do so - but I've yet to hear of any club who went into administration who agrees a payment plan to ensure all tax is paid over time. Dundee didn't, Portsmouth didn't, Leeds didn't, Livingston didn't.

    People may want it - some just because its Rangers - but its fantasy to expect it.

    #84
    Everyone gets to keep their own gate receipts! There is no clause where the OF get all of theirs and part of everyone else's!

  • Comment number 89.

    I do hope someone manages to get a photo of Chic Young at the very moment he learns that Rangers are to be liquidated.

    That might entertain me for some weeks.

    At least St Mirren will have one new fan!

  • Comment number 90.

    #82 morbhoy - you make a fair and appropriate response as ever. the opportunity is there.. this is one we have to take.

    #87 erm how many Champions league spots will we have coming up?? have you seen our european coefficient lately? and that's with rangers. Even Celtic will struggle to actually qualify for group stages now. european money has meant nothing to the other clubs for ages, because they don't have it.

  • Comment number 91.

    75. At 15:13 28th Feb 2012, Rev_S_Campbell wrote:
    @67 "Worst-case scenario (for Rangers I should add!), they need to start again from the Third Division."

    That's not the WORST-case scenario. Rangers have no divine right of entry to ANY part of the Scottish league system - many clubs have been waiting decades to get in. The *reality* is of course that New Rangers would be admitted straight to the SPL, but they have no RIGHT to be, and it's theoretically perfectly possible that the SPL and SFL could grow a pair overnight and tell them to get lost.
    ----------
    They wont though, unless they want to watch Scottish Football fall into the abyss. Rangers will come through the admin process, I imagine that they will win the big tax case, or that HMRC will settle out of court(like they did with Arsenal, whos debt was far greater).

  • Comment number 92.

    Oh and Rob 04 - yes you are right rangers will not pay all their tax. the most likely outcome form this is that they will agree a deal which keeps them in business but cripples them financially for a decade. Die hard fans will remain but glory hunters will fade. no bad thing really.

  • Comment number 93.

    How bad a state is Scottish Football in?

    Celtic reported a profit of £180,000 in the second half of last year.
    This was a year where they played 7 games against Rangers.

    The gate receipts for a Celtic v Rangers games is over a £1 million pounds, assuming a 50% split net that is £3 million and change. I am extremely concerned about Celtics future and all the SPL teams futures without the traveling Rangers support boosting incomes and the loss of TV revenue given the Old Firm clause in the TV deal, means all of this will go from bad to worse, even IF Rangers survive.

    There just is no money in the Scottish game. Very sad.

  • Comment number 94.

    @GILLY1980
    Fall into the abyss? Please explain.
    The Stockholm Syndrome comment by Rev_S_Campbell is the most accurate thing in any of these responses (including my own!).
    IF Rangers go into liquidation then having them start in the 3rd division is fair. I understand other clubs have been waiting for years to get in, but if it was another league club then they would get this same chance and Rangers should be treated like everyone else. If they were to be voted back into the SPL straight away then it would be an utter travesty and I might even protest in some form.
    I still think the likeliest outcome is Rangers will not be liquidated and will remain with the 2nd biggest player budget in the SPL and therefore likely to continue to finish 2nd.

  • Comment number 95.

    The tangerine sunglasses have been well and truely on there Jim. As a Rangers season ticket holder I feel we should put the rest of the SPL out of their misery and put Rangers into receivership on the basis that the first news(£9m) is the best you are likely to hear and the worst (£75m according to Craig) will probably not cover the liabilities.That would clear the way for others to enjoy European football in August and have SPL matches at 3pm on a Saturday as there would be TV to worry about. Naturally the blue knights would form a new club ,to be called Rangers 1690 FC, or someother suitable name, and initially we could groundshare with Partick Thistle, who are looking for a new lodger, whilst we fight our way back up from the third division assuming our application to join the SFL was accepted.
    When it has been established who owns the assets of the bankrupt club the blue knights could attempt to buy them back for the same price that they last went for. Sounds like a 'quid pro quo'.
    In the meantime the 'massive fan base' would I'm sure continue to support the 'prudent and dilligently run' 6 club SPL(Hearts, Killie, Dons, Arabs and Pars following us) and the other 5 clubs would have as much chance of having one club one vote majority decisions as RFC have of coming out of administration.Democracy no chance.
    Be carefull what you wish for.

  • Comment number 96.

    There is a lot of chat about our co-efficient dropping and how thats a bad thing and it was rangers what got us it in the first place. Thats fair enough but it was achieved through ultimately unfair means and if it means the standard of football then means we have a lower co-efficient and therefore fewer European places then it means we are at the level we should be. And as far as saying if it dropped any lower we'd be at the same level as wales or estonia then fair enough, we'd be there on merit, its just a shame that our merit only gets us so few european places.

    Bigger league. More Derbies. More interest in the league at ground level. Once we are intersted in the product on the field then the TV companies will soon come back but when they do, hopefully, chairmen will have grown a set and get a deal that benefits all members of the league and not just the top 2.

  • Comment number 97.

    @87 "weaker teams would get knocked out in the early stages of the CL thus ruining the coefficient rankings"

    How would it even be possible to get knocked out of Europe earlier than Rangers did this season? They got knocked out SO early I believe some of their players were able to participate in the D-Day landings.

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm a Celtic fan and the bottom line is (sad as it is), we actually do need Rangers, not just Celtic but the rest of the SPL and beyond, yes, we are now among the minnows of European Football but if we stand any chance of turning thiings around, we need the attraction that is OF day, without it, the league would be even more of a joke, there is not one team right now (sorry Motherwell) who can really compete with the OF even in these tough times at Ibrox. Lots of people have picked up on the gate money side of things and I think this is a really valid point, most other SPL teams depend on this. If Celtic think a weakened Rangers makes a stronger Celtic then I beg to differ, have we all forgot about pre Fergus McCann Celtic??? Come on. One last thing, I can't believe Rangers fans think they hold all the cards in terms of the TV deal, sorry, your in dire straits right now, it's not exactly bragging material is it?? I hope they pull through, at the end of the day, what is the point in picking up trophies when the competition is over before it's begun...

  • Comment number 99.

    @93 "How bad a state is Scottish Football in? Celtic reported a profit of £180,000 in the second half of last year. This was a year where they played 7 games against Rangers."

    £180,000 might not sound like much, but it's pretty fantastic compared to a LOSS of £70m made by Chelsea in each of the last two years, or the £195m lost by Manchester City last year alone, or the £110m lost by Manchester United - and those are all WITH the vast amounts of TV money pouring into the English game and the benefit of extended Champions League participation.

    Making a profit at all instantly makes Celtic one of the "richest" clubs in the British game.

  • Comment number 100.

    @75 Rev - thanks for that enlightening comment in response to mine. You may or may not have noticed that in my introductory paragraph I observed that Rangers would simply not be allowed to go out of business altogether. Therefore it is inherent that my description of a "worst case scenario" is obviously in view of Rangers being in one of the Scottish football divisions.

    But many thanks for the redundant theoretical observation, I feel suitably enriched by this - even though surely anyone with any understanding of business would already be well aware of this! Is there really any point in even discussing that?

    Gilly - thousands of tricolours at Celtic Park? Oh dear. You'll be lucky if there's a hundred flags of any description at any game, never mind tricolours.

    As regards the numerous co-efficient posts - I don't see Rangers being a big contributor to this in the seasons to come, which are surely the only years up for debate here. They struggled in Europe this year and there's no reason to assume that they'll be able to invest sufficiently in the squad in the next few years to change that.

    Rob - I think there's every chance they'll come to a deal with HMRC to pay debts back over a number of years. I think the amount of politicking in this case makes that the most likely outcome, however little precedent to date.

 

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