Scottish Football: Where Next?
Sunday July the 29th will be a day that lives long in the memory for Rangers fans as it was the first match that the club played under their new name Rangers Newco.
Playing against Brechin city was a unique experience for Rangers fans as they took up approximately 75% of the stadium which held just over 3000 people. So with its most decorated club in the third division can Scottish football survive in its current state?
Now despite the whole Rangers situation only being big news for two or three months, it is hard to deny that Scottish football was on a state of decline before that.
Long gone are the days of the likes of Rangers and Celtic being amongst the most feared names in world football like they were in the 1960’s with Celtic winning the European cup in 1967. For example last season, Rangers were eliminated before they could even get to the group stage and Celtic went out of the Europa league at the group stage.
For many years now Scottish football has been widely considered as a “two club league” meaning Rangers and Celtic. In fact, the last time the top Scottish league was won by a team other than Rangers or Celtic was in the 1984/85 season when Sir Alex Ferguson guided his Aberdeen side to the title.
Last season, despite Rangers being deducted 10 points by the SFA as a result of them going into administration, the gap between 2nd place Rangers and 3rd place Motherwell was still 11 points highlighting the difference in class between Scottish football’s elite and those who want to be in the same breath as the traditional powers that are Celtic and Rangers.
If past years are anything to go by, this season could see a huge difference in points tallies between 1st place (presumably Celtic) and 2nd place which many are predicting will be one of Motherwell, Dundee United and Hearts.
Not only do they make the title race very interesting but the SPL have now lost the old firm derby between Rangers and Celtic. Celtic have a large Catholic fan base while Rangers have a predominantly Protestant fan base.
Because of these factors, the derbies are often fierce with even death threats being sent to the Celtic manager Neil Lennon before the derby in 2011.
For many, the old firm derby is the only Scottish league match they watch and the viewing figures for the match are tremendously higher than any other Scottish league match.
Without this game, it is likely that the Scottish premier league will struggle to attract tv networks and sponsors which could provide a big blow to an already struggling league. Rangers couldn’t cope even with a decent amount of income, how will others cope without it?
So without its joint biggest name, can the SPL keep up a solid number of viewers? Many have already said that due to Celtic’s squad strength in comparison to all the other teams in the league, that they won’t be watching any of the SPL this season.
Also, with Rangers still possessing the likes of Lee Mcculoch and Kirk Broadfoot in the ranks, many are predicting Rangers will romp to the third division title which could undermine the other clubs in the league.
However, some light has been shed. Sky Sports, the British channel have agreed to show some Rangers third division matches as well as many SPL games.
Depending on the financial situation of many Scottish clubs across the league, the future of Scottish football could change drastically.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
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