With the rejection by the Scottish Premier League again of the new club’s bid to join the league next season, there is a huge decision by the lower leagues to make.
Do they consign Rangers, one of the two stand out giants of the Scottish game, to the third division? If they do then Scottish football will suffer by some £16 million and the ability of some of the Premier League teams to survive financially will be compromised.
Then again, they will be compromised anyway as the fans seem reluctant to allow their teams to let Rangers back in. If they are allowed to play in the league, then they won’t buy tickets, turn out and then there is still a huge financial problem. It is a catch 22 of the Glasgow club’s making, and that is why there is such a huge problem now for Scotland. How do they solve this problem?
It would seem as though the most sensible thing to do may be to consign Rangers to the third division, and for the Scottish Premier League, its clubs and the Scottish Football Association to pre-empt the financial disaster with a ‘rescue package.’ They could artificially hike up the price of television rights by purchasing them for the figures that are paid for them now, or forcing someone else to. That way Scottish football at least could possibly cope financially.
There is little doubt though that Scottish football is not the same without the Rangers v Celtic rivalry. Celtic fans may enjoy seeing their rivals down at the moment, but when the reality hits them that next season will be a procession to the title without an old-firm derby they may think differently. This is a situation quite unprecedented in recent history. It would be like Panathinaikos or Olympiakos being relegated from the Greek league, or Galatasaray or Fenerbahce out of the Turkish league.
And it will leave a seemingly predictable league next season. Celtic will surely romp to the title without so much as breaking a sweat. It is probably more interesting to debate when, rather than if, they will claim the league title until Rangers reach the top again. But that cannot be good for the game. It is bad enough to have two teams dominating with almost no challenge to their hegemony. For one to have an unchallenged position seems contrary to the ideas of sport. And to let television interests trump that surely is a step too far. Scottish football seems to be stuck in a cycle of destruction that it needs to break, and fast.