The future of our game at stake?
Scottish football will die without Rangers they say.
Who says that?
Rangers fans, well okay, that is fair enough, you wouldn’t expect them to say anything differently.
The media, well okay, that sets up a fine joke about repeating the first answer but avoiding that churlish response, so many jobs and roles in Scottish football media are dependent on Rangers, is their opinion really that valid.
Some MSPs, okay, the same sort of people that football fans have decided are incompetent due to their passing of the Offensive Behaviour bill, perhaps we should just accept that some MSPs are so desperate for publicity that they would back anything which gave them 15 seconds of fame.
Is that it? This line about Scottish football needing Rangers maybe hasn’t made its way to the terraces, stands and online forums because it is far from a cohesive argument being put out there from the rest of Scottish fitba.
Given that Rangers fans have been known to regale opposition fans and TV audiences with “You can stick your Tartan Army up your arse”, that could represent some opposition.
A Hearts fan made an excellent post on the RangersTaxCase blog, highlighting many points why he and fellow Jambos could see the upside in Scottish football not having Rangers. Calls for unity amongst football fans will never meet with 100% success but there were a number of sensible points made to outline the fact that the game will not die without Rangers.
The Wings Over Scotland site takes a look at things from an Aberdeen perspective and guess what, they make great claims for Scottish football without Rangers as well. Read it all here: Why Scotland doesn’t need Rangers
Even a quick look at some of the Footy Mad forums shows a level of cross-pollination of fans with Hibs, Aberdeen and Dundee United fans notably popping up on other sites conversing or directing people to view discussions or sign petitions. Say what you want about these Footy Mad forums, most people do, but they represent a proportion of the punters who turn up for games and have an interest in the game. There are plenty of people on these boards saying that the Scottish game is not dead without Rangers and that this could actually be a way to bring some life to a game, which has been in the doldrums with Rangers present for many years.
So, why are Rangers really needed?
The TV deal is commonly cited as being a reason why Rangers must be kept in place but all we ever do is moan about the TV deal. The split of money outside Celtic and Rangers is fairly low so it is not as if clubs are going to miss out on a hug sum of cash every season and there will be a replacement deal from somewhere, even by going online. That and let’s face it, the coverage by Sky and ESPN is poor with its cringeworthy Scottish stereotype openings and unsociable kick-off times, will the game be worse off if this deal is binned and other avenues are explored?
The away crowds? With the nature of the split, some teams only get one visit from Rangers a season, given that the Rangers would be replaced by another team, there would still be an attendance and therefore, the overall crowd would only be slightly lower. However, as was pointed out in the Wings Over Scotland article, if fans think their team has a higher chance of winning, they will turn out in bigger numbers. Over the course of a season, any immediate drop in attendances can be offset.
Equally the biggest hurdle for any team currently trying to break the big two’s dominance is the fact that they will face 8 games of this calibre over the season. With Rangers out of the equation, the next strongest team in Scotland will face Celtic 4 times, which brings in a better chance of getting a point split. Say Hearts stepped up to the plate and took on Celtic at Tynecastle early on the season. It is not out of the question for Hearts to get a win, and if they do, they know that for the rest of the season, if they can nick one more win against Celtic, they will at least match the Glasgow club in head to head points.
If Celtic and Rangers were both in the league, Hearts would be thinking that they would need at least another 3 wins to ensure that they were at least equal on head to heads with the big two and that can be a big ask. It then comes down to results against the rest of the teams and if Hearts can show a level of consistency, there is a title race. Not to say that they will win the league, you would still think that with everything else being equal, Celtic would hold out. Then again, back in October it looked as though Neil Lennon was heading out of a job after having dropped points against St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Rangers and Hearts….and if cost cutting occurs, you would argue that the bigger sides have further to fall.
So, it doesn’t immediately follow on that the league now becomes a 1 horse race, in fact, it could make it more competitive. This means the worry about the competitive nature of the league shouldn’t be an issue when talking about the future of Rangers.
And of course, that isn’t taking into consideration the sums of money that have been withheld or diverted away from HMRC. THE BIG ISSUE HERE IS THE HMRC MONEY….NOT FOOTBALL!
You have probably noticed but the economy isn’t at its brightest at the moment and the sums of money that could have been in the Treasury if Rangers never utilised these EBTs is huge! Okay, firstly, everyone is awaiting the outcome of the FTT with respect to the massive tax bill and it is not to say that the sums of money would have bailed out the economy but every little helps. In the current climate, there is no way a football team can be allowed to have squandered all of that money when it could have went to a lot of good causes.
Lest we forget how quick Rangers are to march the troops out onto the pitch to whip fans up into a frenzy and win PR wars or give away free tickets to fill out the stadium on days when ticket sales aren’t actually good…but actually pay taxes that may help soldiers? It is a really strange balancing act that football fans (and not just Rangers fans, football fans in general) can perform when attempting to justify the rightful actions of their club. A quick look at Liverpool FC and its fans over the past few months gives further indication that a stance can be taken from any viewpoint even when everyone else thinks otherwise so let’s not kid on this is just a Scottish trait!
Some Rangers fans have been quick to point out that this league title is meaningless, won by default and shouldn’t be celebrated by Celtic fans if their club gets over the line in first place. This was tremendously pointed out on the Rangers Media board although the poster did state that this opinion would change if Rangers recovered to win the league. Some will laugh at that thought but a 14 point lead isn’t insurmountable…a 15 point lead has already been overturned in the SPL this season. And of course, if this season’s title is meaningless and worth nothing, what does that say about any of the titles or trophies won by a club who have cheated and used everybody else’s money to stay ahead of the pack?
Which gets to the crux of the matter, it is good that fans from around the SPL are saying that they would like to see a league without Rangers if liquidation comes. It’s important to step away from the Celtic fans viewpoint because no matter what is said, observers will assume there is a sinister motive for Celtic fans wanting rid of Rangers…having other teams fans line up to also say no to a NewCo RFC parachuting straight into the SPL is encouraging.
It is encouraging because if Rangers are deemed too big to fail or that Scottish football can’t survive without then, we’d be as well packing the game in. It is allowing one club to cheat their way to success and claim further money while other clubs go about their business diligently, picking up the scraps that fall from the head of the table.
That’s not football…it’s not even a nonsense sport like cricket or rugby, it’s just rubbish. Football isn’t some democratic wonderland, successful teams should get the rewards as an incentive to work harder and keep climbing but equally, teams that cheat shouldn’t be allowed to keep going..otherwise surely every other team should cheat as well.
If St Mirren, St Johnstone or Dunfermline engaged in these activities over a sustained period of time, taking them to a higher level of money, attendances and maybe the odd cup or two, people would be appalled and demanding a proper punishment be placed on them. For the good of the game, the same proper punishment must be handed down to Rangers. If liquidation comes, there should be no immediate place in the SPL for the NewCo Rangers 2012.