WARNING – this blog is doing something we rarely do here. It’s looking at Scottish football as a whole, rather than solely Rangers. Of course, it’s coming from our perspective, but it’s got a different focus.
I know, we’re not supposed to care about the rest of the teams in Scotland. I have my reasons for not being on board with that opinion, though. A strong Scottish football benefits Rangers every bit as much as a strong Rangers benefits Scottish football. We’re inexorably linked, and trying to kill off the game up here would only hold us back. Just my opinion, though, and I understand why many don’t agree.
The defeat for Celtic last night leads to the numerous “Greek Tragedy” headlines. Not all Greek Tragedies finished on a negative note though. They were more about form and subject matter rather than how they ended. There’s a very real chance that not having a club in the Champions League this season may just benefit Scottish football, as strange as that sounds.
From the perspective of Rangers, we can be pretty happy that Celtic are set to lose millions in the short term. It will help bridge the financial gap that’s been a huge factor for years. There’s every chance Celtic will do what Rangers have done in years gone by, and spend money on their squad after a European exit. They have the security of the Europa League, where their draw looks very straightforward. When we lost to Kaunas not long after the run to Manchester, we were out altogether. We then spent a fair amount of money on players to go on to win a few titles and build upon. It may seem unlikely, but there’s a chance they’ll do the same.
If they don’t, and things start to even up, it’s going to benefit everyone. With the Steven Gerrard effect, Scottish football is in sharper focus than it’s been since Charlie Miller was sponsored by Adidas. More seasons of one team being dominant because of the financial gap wouldn’t be as attractive to potential sponsors and TV companies. An opportunity has arisen due to the TV deal for overseas rights having to be ripped up. Even with someone as inept as Neil Doncaster running negotiations, we can surely absolutely smash the amount that was in place with all the focus that’s coming our way now.
And nothing grows interest in a league more than competition. Think back to the days of last-minute league wins, teams chasing each other or trying to win on goal difference. You wouldn’t miss a match. You’d watch the other teams because you’d be more invested. Even if it didn’t go your way that season (and that was pretty rare for Rangers in those sort of years), you were very entertained during the ride. Scottish football hasn’t seen anything like that since Rangers smashed 3 goals in 7 minutes against Kilmarnock.
If teams like Aberdeen, Hearts or Hibs were capable of making a real challenge to Celtic, it would have happened in recent years. All three will feel they’re improving and will have a say, but unless Rangers are able to put up a real challenge, recent history tells us it’s a one team league. No one cares about leagues that end up that way. All of this doesn’t even consider that Celtic are bound to have better European results in the Europa League which will benefit Scottish football as well.
It seems like a strange argument to suggest that weakening something makes everything stronger. I’m more than aware that Celtic had to slip up somewhat for Rangers to have more realistic chances of beating them over a season. If that’s what’s to come, and things get genuinely exciting again, every team in Scotland will benefit.
And that’s what we need, as unpalatable as it can sound at times. More money coming into the league, better players, good results in Europe – Scottish football has a chance here to take advantage of the Gerrard effect and a more competitive league (on the face of it) to actually move forward for once. Let’s see if they actually try to take it.