Back in August 2011 both halves of the Old Firm had been unceremoniously dumped out of Europe. I claimed at the time that the Old Firm had ‘tapped out’as the stranglehold of a lack of funds became too tight. Since then both clubs have followed different routes as they tried to recover from such dissapointment. Celtic went on to win the title belt having swept aside all before them in the SPL. Rangers, on the other hand, have recently been disqualified from future participation due to the use of a performance enhancing drug known as the Employees Benefit Trust (EBT).
The time spent in the lower leagues should help Rangers to get their house in order. However, considering the scale of the turmoil currently engulfing the Govan club that seems easier said than done. 9 players have already signaled their intent to reject the opportunity to sign for NewCo Rangers, citing fears of their career’s stagnating as the major reason.
Noone can really blame them either as it would be doing their career an injustice, both in financial and on the field terms, if they plied their trade in Division 3. More will follow their lead likely leaving Rangers crippled, especially if the transfer embargo is enforced. Things might actually end up that bad that David Healy gets a regular game. Surely those depths will not be plunged.
Yesterday, I heard someone in the pub claim that they would not be surprised if Rangers cease to exist entirely come August. Although this remains a possible scenario I struggle to see how a club with such a huge fan base can just vanish completely.
The old saying ‘one mans loss is another man’s gain’ may not actually be true in Celtic’s case though. Their rivals demise presents a double edged sword for Celtic. A new trophy room may be needed at Park Head as it seems likely that Celtic will dominate for years to come, with their biggest challenger banished for a few years. On the other side, the Old Firm rivalry provoked an intense competitive spirit within both clubs as they seeked to prosper over one another. Some things just need a partner. Like Ant without Dec. Bangers without Mash. Salt without Vinegar. It may well be good but it leaves a sense of unfilled potential.
All this is occurring against the backdrop of Euro 2012 – another major tournament at which Scotland failed to reach. That’s 7 in a row now and it does not seem we are getting any nearer. With Celtic and Rangers, whose players have consistently made up the Scottish team, facing uncertain times the national team looks certain to suffer. It may not in the short term as the likes of Naismith head off to England to continue their development. But longer term a lack of emerging talent seems a major problem.
The collateral damage inflicted upon Glasgow Rangers has left the Scottish game in A and E, lying on a hospital bed with a pulse near flat-lining. Defibrillators are been applied as we speek in a desperate attempt to resuccutate fitba but whether the game can ever truly recover remains to be seen. A long bout of medication, perhaps some counselling from those who know best, is required to get the old chap back to the pristine health his pals fondly remember.