Does the SPL miss Rangers?

After the catastrophic collapse of Glasgow giants Rangers, many doom-mongers predicted the end of Scottish football altogether. The domestic game north of the border has been in steady decline since the 1980’s and the demise of the blue half of the Old Firm was seen as the final nail in a coffin that’s been some time in the making.

The financial implications to each club in the SPL due to the loss of Rangers are sizeable. To the smaller clubs in the division such as St.Johnstone and Dundee United, these effects are amplified when compared to those for the remaining superpower,Celtic, although The Bhoys themselves are not immune to the fallout of the economic implosion at Ibrox either. Not only will all clubs miss the twice yearly visit of Rangers to swell the takings at the turnstiles, but the cash distributed through television deals will also have altered which means clubs already living on meagre finances will have to tighten their belts even further. All concerned will be hoping this extra budget constriction will not prove fatally inhibitive.

These issues of finance have been well debated in the media, boardrooms and higher echelons of the Scottish game and will have occupied the minds of the power brokers perpetually throughout the turbulent summer when the future of Rangers and the system as a whole were making daily headline news.

But now that matters on the field are grabbing the supporters attention, three months into the season and reflecting upon the state of the League post-Rangers, many are asking: Is the SPL in a better or worse state without The ‘Gers?

Firstly, let’s consider what Rangers brought to the SPL in terms of quality. In the grand scheme of things they were an average football team at best, even accounting for one or two players such as Nikica Jelavic who have since moved on and been a hit in pastures new. The remainder were unable to put up much resistance to Celtic as they capitalised on Rangers woes to take the SPL crown, almost by default. It has been a source of much comment that even though Rangers were below par, they were still one of only two clubs who could conceivably win the title. But let’s be honest, they were light years away from the days of McCoist, Hateley, Gascoigne and Laudrup in terms of quality.

Realistically this leaves Celtic as the only possible winners of the SPL. Relative to the competition they face, they have a better quality and better depth of squad. This goes without saying when you have such a mismatch in resources and financial clout. However, Celtic have also seen much better days. Putting aside some recent admirable performances in the Champions League in Barcelona and Moscow, if they were to be granted permission to join the English Premier League, as often is mooted, at this very moment in time, they would surely struggle to match the intensity, quality and competition for survival on a weekly basis.

Ultimately, the Hoops will be too good for the rest over the course of the entire season, but at the time of writing, Celtic find themselves on top only by way of goal difference, with only six points between them and eighth place Ross County and nine points from second bottom St.Mirren. With a quarter of the season already elapsed this is a level of proximity rarely experienced in Scotland’s top flight at this stage. So does this mean the SPL is a better place and all in the garden is rosy? The answer is simple. Yes. And no.

Has the quality of football improved? Not really. There have been no drastic changes to the teams or players turning out in the SPL. However, the league is seeing more goals scored and increased competition now that higher finishes for each club are attainable. There is even the possibility of the promised land and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-Champions League football. Although when you knock on that door, you have to have the ability to open it. Just ask Motherwell.

As for Celtic, perhaps the absence of Rangers at home is allowing them to concentrate more on progression through the Champions League Group Stage minefield without the fixation of their domestic squabbles to hold them back. If they are temporarily taking their eye off the ball at home, it is certainly making for more excitement for everyone else nipping at their heels.

In reality, the time to evaluate the impact of the monumental events of last summer is at the end of the season. By then Celtic may have cantered to an all too predictable SPL title victory and the rest may have settled back into their equally predictable routine and position. But for now, fans of Scotland’s leading clubs should be heading through the turnstiles with vigour and enjoying the renewed sense of competition so sadly absent for decades. By the time Rangers do inevitably return, perhaps the devastation and disaster they encountered will have been the catalyst to a rebirth of the Scottish Premier League.

The Author

Mark Godfrey

Visit for news, stories and musings on the Beautiful Game. You can also purchase our quarterly fanzine in print or on Kindle

12 thoughts on “Does the SPL miss Rangers?

  1. It’s not unusual for teams outwith Rangers and Celtic to be near the top of the SPL table at a relatively early stage. Their chances of actually winning the SPL? The same as ever i.e. nil.

  2. You obviously know a little about Scottish football, but the one thing yourself and just about every other sports writer keep overlooking is there is no such team as rangers, there liquidated and passed away, its a tribute club playing at ibrox now, please refrain from calling then rangers, it only Confuses the dead clubs fans

  3. Who is this team you call R*ngers? Since you claim to be a global follower of football, surely you know of their transgressions?

    Nonpayment of taxes, improper use of EBTs and not paying teams for players are just a few of the things they’re accused of.

    Who needs that?

    I guess to answer your question, in a word: No!

  4. “at this very moment in time, they would surely struggle to match the intensity, quality and competition for survival on a weekly basis.”

    Unless of course, the extraordinary riches available to average mid-table EPL clubs were also available to Celtic.

  5. Just as Man U or Man City will canter to another EPL title. You can go around most leagues in Europe and say 1 of 2 teams will win their respective championship. It is not Celtic’s fault that Rangers cheated.

  6. So the spl is competitive because Celtic know they will win ,concentrate on c/l and win league later .the media buy into it too make it look good ,this is better than what happens to hearts (third division same as rangers) oh hold up that was not part of the plan ,,ahh sporting integrity Pond life .

  7. Mark has raised the question of whether Celtic would cope with the English Premier League. It is equally valid to ask if English teams could cope with the drive of a team such as Celtic, or Rangers, for whom anything less than victory is failure. Most of the English Premier teams have no genuine ambition to win the league, happy to avoid relegation so they can pick up another big cheque. For the most part the EPL is hugely overrated. The current Celtic team would quickly rise to the top – they would be a culture shock to the EPL.

  8. I should really know better,however, despite my better judgement I ‘ll respond – you really are poorly informed and lacking in knowledge so why comment on a subject you patently know nothing about. We in Scotland watching football where a team in SFL3 can and frequently attracts DOUBLE the combined attendances in the SPL, and indirectly through television deals bankrolls an organisation which was only too keen to get rid of. Again my comment is directed to you, before you make a comment research your subject before opening your mouth and embarrassing yourself. You obviously have pre-conceived views on Scottish football which are plainly misconceived should you wish a more balanced view feel free to get in touch !1

  9. Ill informed garbage. Perhaps done more research is required before typing. Scottish football is not in a strong position but its not as bad as the media portray. Hearts have had financial problems for a few years just seems to becoming to head just now, although i do think something will get sorted out. Dundee united have posted a healthy profit. Celtic looking good for European football after Christmas. And to George, rangers bankroll the sfa/ SFL? Rangers couldn’t bankroll themselves that’s why they’re in the position they are. And don’t forget the spl and sfa tried everything including scare mongering to get the rangers voted into the spl or first division. And make no mistake if it was any other team and not rangers, the rangers fans would be screaming for the full punishment.

  10. Rangers are the most successful club in the Uk and all their history is in tact….to the bigoted , Obsessed , small minded Celtic fans I ask..who are sevco ?.

    Rangers then , rangers now , rangers forever

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