No, what made the 80’s/90’s barren spell much worse was Rangers complete domination both in terms of football and finance. Celtic couldn’t compete. And yet not once can I recall hearing that a weak Celtic was bad for Scottish football or bad for the game in general. You may hear today that Celtic need Rangers but back then Celtic were an irrelevance that Rangers needed not. David Murray lorded over all:
‘For every fiver they spend we will spend a tenner’
‘If having no overdraft means no trophies then we will have an overdraft and have the trophies’
You will notice that Murray wasn’t exactly a humble character. He certainly lacked humility and the man’s arrogance was often breathtaking. This was the man who banned Celtic fans from Ibrox for one game in 1994 for breaking a number of seats after a match. Oh the irony of Manchester in 2008. He was the media darling, forever in the papers, always available for a quote and constantly on TV although it has to be said he has been rather camera shy these last few months for some strange reason.
Politically Rangers reigned also. This was the time of Thatcherism and the advent of the ‘yuppies’. While Celtic’s directors were inept, in fairness to them they did pay their taxes and although they were incompetent they were never corrupt. In 1990 the SFA invited the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to assist with the Scottish cup draw. Ibrox was deemed the only place suitable for her to attend even though Rangers were no longer in the competition. She felt at home at Ibrox both materially and politically. Market forces dictated that only the strong could prosper, the weak could fade away into oblivion.
Rangers loved to portray themselves as European aristocrats and Campbell Ogilvie to this day boasts of reshaping the European competitions. Murray’s private jet was on constant standby for a succession of spectacular foreign signings. Several high profile Rangers fans now told the world that the Old Firm games were no longer of great concern to them and that the European Cup was their number one priority.
In the summer of 2000 the media gleefully informed us that Rangers had so many quality players they could play three different teams, one in Europe, one in the league and one in the domestic cups.
How times change. The great irony is that Murray caused the destruction that Rangers now face by racking up an enormous tax bill and selling to the unscrupulous Whyte although you will read little criticism in the media. The taste of succulent lamb obviously lingers long and lasting. As the Hyenas tear apart the Rangers carcass it is the men from the city who do so, the high flying executives from the long winded company names who were previously feted and celebrated at Ibrox.
Now Rangers are approaching their own Armageddon. The tables have turned on them and it will be their turn to look for modern day scraps in the transfer market of the equivalent of Carl Muggleton and Wayne Biggins. The medicine will be foul tasting but they have to drink it up and it’s their only option.
Of all the articles I have recently read I have seen little sympathy for Hearts, Dundee United and Dunfermline who now all lose out financially as a result of Rangers’ situation. Politicians also jump to the defence of the Ibrox men with not one of them having the courage to tell us how it is about the immoral situation of a Chairman who seeks to avoid paying millions in taxes. Lester Piggott was imprisoned whilst Whyte seeks a CVA to avoid Rangers’ moral obligations.
I’ve heard it said that if Celtic go on to lift the league trophy after Rangers’ 10 points deduction then it will be a hollow victory. No mention of the fact that Rangers, for 10 years, spent money they did not have at the expense of the public purse whilst the other clubs lived within their means. In any other language it would be called cheating.
If Celtic do go on and win the title then it will be testament to men like Fergus McCann and Brian Quinn who planned meticulously and kept the house in order. In 1995 Celtic fans raised nearly £14M amongst themselves. It was the turning point in Celtic’s modern history although both men were often ridiculed in the press for their financial prudence.
Some people will tell you that Rangers’ current situation is bad for the Scottish game. No it’s not – it’s bad for Rangers.
And it’s all entirely and totally self inflicted.