Scotland isn’t really the hotbed of football (soccer) it perhaps once was, but in the last few months Scottish football has been shaken to its core as one of its two most famous and successful clubs, one part of the duopoly that is the Glasgow domination of Scottish football, Rangers, has gone bankrupt. Faced with a huge unpaid tax bill, the only option left to what remained of Rangers was to declare bankruptcy and start again.
The interesting news this last week is where they have to go to start again. They initially applied to be admitted straight into the SPL (Scottish Premier League), the top flight, but this was rejected by the members of the SPL. Even members of the first and second divisions rejected the application too. Rangers have been accepted to the Scottish Third Division, a full four divisions below where they graced pre-bankruptcy.
Stats abound, but perhaps the most amusing lists average attendances for Rangers and their new opponents in the forthcoming season:
Rangers’ average attendance is a full 46,000 more than their forthcoming opponents, none of whom can boast an average attendance even in four figures. Scottish football acts as a pyramid system and hence within four years, Rangers should expect to be back in the SPL. But in the meantime it’ll be an interesting time for them.
This whole sorry, sorry saga highlights not just financial mismanagement but much more. Some SPL clubs were inclined to allow Rangers back in; after all, one of their biggest paydays each season was when Rangers visited. However, the animosity amongst the fans of most clubs led to their owners voting against Rangers. This must be a classic case of financial and sporting objectives clashing – financially the decision was a no-brainer, but to just allow a club formed from the dust to enter the highest division in Scottish football? Then what will be the consequences of Rangers being absent? Rangers and Celtic have shared between them the vast majority of SPL championships over the years, in fact no other team has won the Scottish league since the early 1980s. Will Celtic simply win the next four league titles, or will other teams step up and begin to compete with the previously dominant Glasgow giants?
Whatever happens, it does promise to be a fascinating few years in Scotland…