Will Rangers ever compete with Celtic again for the title?



There seems to be a fear within the halls of Ibrox that Rangers will have to watch idly by as city rivals Celtic march on to ten successive Premiership titles. Given the current league status of the Ibrox side, by the time they enter the Scottish Premiership, Celtic will have won their fourth title the previous season [since there is no real title challenge from the other clubs in the top flight.]

With Rangers in the top flight [based on successive title wins in League One and the Championship next year], Celtic would be looking towards their fifth league title in a row and with the return of the Glasgow derby games, the venomous and hate-filled atmosphere of the games will return as would the desire to beat their rivals also – which would certainly increase competition. However, with Rangers’ financial state still bordering on asking for a pay day loan from Wonga, can they honestly challenge Celtic for the title when they reach the ‘promised land’?

Rangers are currently losing money, reportedly around £750,000 to £1 million a month, with the Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace stating that the budget will need to be cut, with limited funds available for Ally McCoist to strengthen his side.

For the league that Rangers are in the size of the squad, along with the amount that is paid out on wages – it can be compared to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

However, when Rangers are in the top flight they will need to spend money to challenge or at least try to challenge Celtic for the Premiership title.

Rangers WILL need new investment ahead of their SPFL Championship challenge and subsequently further investment ahead of their Premiership campaign. Whether that is in the form of a ‘soft loan’ from Dave King, money from institutional investors or a further share issue – it is money gravely needed or they could end up going to the wall for a second time given their willingness to splash the cash once more so soon after their financial demise.

On the other hand Celtic are cash rich, they have secured the riches of Champions League revenue for the past two years bolstered by the sales of Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper – with relatively little spent on signings [much to the anger and frustration of the support].

Whether Celtic are stockpiling funds for the day when Rangers are in the top flight or if they are just sticking to their strict business plan, when Rangers do ply their football in the top flight Celtic will be able to flex their financial muscles more than what Rangers would and it could prove a dark time for the fans of the Ibrox side.

They had to sit and watch as Jock Stein’s Celtic side romped away with nine titles in a row in the 60s and 70s, while Celtic fans had to watch their rivals romp to nine titles in a row before Wim Jansen’s side ‘stopped the ten’. Whether it is Neil Lennon or another manager in the Celtic hotseat come the time to face Rangers in the league once more, the Celtic fans will be looking at and demanding their team win ten in a row to pile further misery on their great rivals.

Realistically Celtic can achieve the ‘ten’ but can Rangers prevent it from happening, given much of the money that would need to be raised for challenges in the Championship and the Premiership, would be funds to stave off another financial calamity.

For Rangers to realistically challenge Celtic within a year or even three years of top flight action, they need a ‘sugar daddy’. Whether it is Dave King or another rich benefactor who happens to also be a die hard Rangers-minded ‘billionaire’.

Rangers have already faced top flight clubs since their financial demise and they have came out worse off for it, against a Celtic side – even one as ‘weak’ as the current side – Rangers would be turned over, despite the huge rivalry and the fire that is fuelled by every derby meeting.

In one-off cup games anything can happen, but can a financially stricken Rangers side really challenge a cash rich Celtic side for the title in the first five years of top flight action?

Barring a rich Russian Rangers supporting oil baron or a Middle Eastern Rangers supporting Sheikh I doubt Rangers would secure the funds necessary and the quality of players necessary to end Celtic’s dominance within the Premiership for the next few years to come at least.

Given their current state of finance as well as lure of Champions League football [coupled with the return of the derby match], Celtic would be able to [bearing in mind the great lure that the Scottish game is currently]secure a better quality of player than their city neighbours for the foreseeable future.

Celtic fans could almost certainly be celebrating ten titles in a row come the end of season 2020-21 – barring those rich benefactors and Celtic imploding. Even the most die hard Rangers fans will be wondering what will happen to their club with no rich benefactor on the scene – we will hear plenty say that Rangers will challenge for the title straight from the first season they are in the top flight – but these individuals are blinded to the state that their club is currently in and will be in without significant fresh investment.

Or failing all of the above, the kids at Dundee United could win the title knocking the status quo of Scottish football out of sync after decades of Old Firm dominance. What is more realistic? I will leave that to you to decide and discuss.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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