Many of you will have been concerned to hear the news that Rangers supporters had been subjected to what they called ‘overt sectarian singing’ at the weekend. Your response may have ranged anywhere from ‘diddums’ to ‘that’s karma’. Maybe more Aye Right than Aye Ready? But whatever, the spectacle brought all of the hate and bile it’s well known for.
I’m still struggling with Ewan Murray’s maths (‘Mark Warburton faces backlash from Rangers fans after Celtic debacle’).
Trying to understand the state of play before us he writes: ‘That Rangers are in this position, of eight points from five matches and a generally unconvincing state, has three reasons. First, the obscene signing policy of 2012, with wages of £7,000 a week bestowed on players when Rangers were consigned to the bottom tier of the Scottish game, removed any possibility of adequate planning in terms of personnel and cash reserves.’ His other reasons are their managers signing moves and his tactics, but that’s not important.
He goes on to write that: “Warburton is due sympathy in one regard. No other promoted team would be expected to challenge for a title or accept scrutiny in the manner of Rangers. That, of course, owes everything to historical status. Nonetheless, it should not be a leap of faith for Rangers, while obviously trailing Celtic on and off the field, to prove vastly superior to the rest of the Premiership. Resources alone dictate that much; no other side outside of Celtic could afford £1.8m for Joe Garner and his £12,000-a-week salary even before the contracts of Barton, Kranjcar, Philippe Senderos, Clint Hill and others are taken into account.”
A few things spring from this analysis. There is nothing but rank hubris and self-deceit that has prevented Rangers from saying “we’ll take some time to rebuild, we’ve come from behind” etc etc and present an ounce of humility or perspective on their own situation. Nothing in the world required them to boast that they would win the title. No sympathy is due.
They could have said what Arthur Numan eventually has come out with: “”It will be difficult because Celtic have been playing for many years at the highest level. A lot of supporters expect now [Rangers] are back in the highest division that they will compete for the league. With some good young, promising players, some experienced players, hopefully within two to three years’ time they will be back again. They have a decent squad at the moment, but Celtic are a little bit stronger and you have to accept that.”
Secondly if the £7,000 a week wage policy was madness in 2012 and contributed greatly to their own downfall, why is it kosher in 2016? In fact why if £7,000 a week was madness then is the reputed £30,000 a week for Joey Barton sound good sense today?
If the Rangers entity that operated before was a semi-legal basket case, the entity that dwells inside the same stadium today is a loss making business without a credit line to a bank.
And still the fantasy world of the salvage of a duopoly returns to us as the comfort blanket of failing news media and cosseted and scared regulatory bodies and a cabal of football authorities too useless to act or to place one foot in front of another whilst chewing gum.
Saturday’s horsing was only a temporary boost for Celtic, themselves annihilated by Barcelona last night.
Why do we continue with this charade?
Mostly because it makes money and neither the SPFL nor the SFA have an inkling of how to create a different better model so they cling to the old broken one. At least the Scottish Football Fans Association – now with over 60,000 members – are trying to halt the rip-off that is Scottish football.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if Rangers go bust again, or if our top teams can’t compete in Europe or if fans can’t afford to go to the game, or the BBC deal’s a pittance, or the sponsorship deal is pathetic, but I think it does.
The return of the Old Firm is not the panacea for Scottish football, it’s a ghoulish throwback to an old broken system that’s failed us all.