I would be the first to take great pleasure out of this, and I am confident that most people reading this article would have the same initial jubilant reaction.
However, as with many things which bring short term happiness and joy, the long term effects can be much more painful and sobering. The most extreme scenario is Rangers getting into a position where they can no longer trade, and therefore cease to exist.
Having lived in England for over ten years, I have often had friends tell me that Celtic & Rangers need each other. I will always vehemently deny this assertion and actively loath the ‘Old Firm’ label as I feel it connects us too closely to a club and ideology that is the polar opposite of Celtics and of my own.
Having said this, whilst Celtic means a great deal to many millions of people, at the base level they are a sporting institution which depends on spectators and a good level of public interest to be able to thrive. People watch sport and are interested in it because of the competition that ensues. If there is no competition, there is no interest, and obviously with no interest the institution cannot survive.
As such, whether we like it or not, unless we are able to find a way out of Scotland, we need the competition that Rangers provide in order for people to remain at all interested in our league. Sky Sports pay the money they do, so that they can show games involving both Celtic and Rangers, and our game needs the wider interest that our derby with Rangers provides, because if they were to disappear, it would take away the only game that really interests outsiders in our league. This would ultimately reduce the amount of money we are able to make from television, which in turn makes it harder to attract a good quality of player, and thus a vicious circle is created.
Having discussed this scenario with friends and family, the usual reaction, and one which I myself have been given in the past, is that their fans will attach themselves to other teams such as Hearts, Motherwell or Kilmarnock, thus still providing competition. This may of course offset any potential damaging effect of Rangers demise however I still cannot see a Celtic V Kilmarnock cup final quite so appealing to TV companies nor the wider footballing audience.
As stated earlier, this is of course the ‘nuclear’ scenario, and the much more realistic outcome is a spell in administration. Whilst this would enable them to survive in the longer term, it would create a lot of issues for them in the short term, including a fire sale of any player with any market value what so ever. This would almost certainly result in them losing players such as Jelavic (although not for the £9m touted on transfer deadline day), Davis, Mcgregor & Naismith, along with others. In all likelihood there would be no funds available to bring in replacements, which would result in Rangers being drastically weakened.
The thought of a couple of seasons of them being no better than the standard SPL cannon fodder is extraordinarily appealing, and the image of them struggling to finish in the top six particularly delights me. I would argue that this is just deserts for spending far above their means, which in my mind is tantamount to cheating.
Unfortunately in keeping with the general theme of this article, there is always a but! If thought about rationally, would a permanently weakened Rangers benefit us in the long term? If another team can emerge from the shadows and compete, then possibly, as TV still has a competition to show, and the circus of ‘the Old Firm Derby’ is still there for rubberneckers to gawp at.
However I cannot see where that competition would come from, and if Rangers are weakened so much, it will almost inevitably lead to our own standards dropping, which considering how far they have fallen in the last 5 years or so is enough to make you reach for the whiskey. To make us competitive on the European stage, which is where we all want to see Celtic successfully perform on a regular basis, we desperately need some form of real domestic competition. We all know that the current level we receive is inadequate at best, so if our only real current competitors were to be severely weakened, where would that leave us? It would result in lot of short term glory, but would be gravely detrimental to our European aspirations in the long term.
I do not want this article to come across as being in anyway sympathetic to Rangers or to suggest that we help them in any way. They are paying the price for years of financial mismanagement and they deserve to be in this position.
By all means enjoy the humiliation that this is causing, after all they did the same to us in the 90’s, but when you are revelling in the idea of a world without Rangers F.C., or even one where they are reduced to the level of SPL cannon fodder, as undeniably beautiful as this image may initially appear, please, be careful what you wish for.