With Or Without You……

The question may be hypothetical but the opinions are plenty.

In the wake of Glasgow Rangers rather forced entry into voluntary administration many over eager fans from all other SPL teams seem determined to throw in their tuppance worth in view of life without the Glasgow team.

One school of thought is that the SPL would be doomed without Rangers, their supporter revenue and importance to any future if not current T.V. deals.

Another is that the SPL would prosper – if not in the same capacity it could thrive.

The main opinions are from those of Rangers Glasgow rivals, Celtic. Some Celtic fans fear for their own team, a league without Rangers – without the Old Firm, with almost guaranteed success would become stale. It would lack any form of interest from abroad, or even the rest of the U.K. . It could hamper Celtics progression.

Peter Lawwell has publically gone on record to suggest that Celtic do not in fact require Rangers to go from strength to strength.

Other Celtic fans seem so filled with hatred for Rangers that the simple satisfaction of seeing their complete demise would provide a lifetime of such great satisfaction that they could not really care less about the success of their own team – as long as Rangers die.

Some claim that they support Celtic, that it is their love for their team that would bring them to football games – not their hatred of Rangers.

The truth is, that somewhere among the many theories lies the probably truth. When talking about hypotheticals, such as Rangers going out of business, there is very little evidence to relay on for us to hypothesise such a future. Indeed, it would be impossible to say.

What we can relay on, is historical facts, from which a conclusion can be drawn.

First of all let’s address one school of thought. The thought that Celtic could in fact use this as a new opportunity of forming some foreign league or ‘Atlantic league’ (strangely named since none of the countries potentially involved border the Atlantic), or even approach to join the English leagues.

The merits of an ‘Atlantic league’ have been drawn up for many years. It has been praised as a T.V. marketing dream – however, since the first formation of the idea many of the countries leagues that had initially planned to form such have dwindled to such levels that the demand for an ‘Atlantic league’ in the year 2012 is virtually none. The idea is, to coin a phrase, dead in the water.

The opportunity to join the English leagues? Well, let us see. Between 2010-2013 the EPL raised over £1.4 Billion in overseas T.V money. This is approx. £25million per season, per club.

The current SKY deal paid Blackpool, the team relegated from the EPL last season £40million, whilst Manchester United netted over £60million in Sky cash. This is a stark comparison to Rangers, who netted approx. £2million for winning the SPL.

Relegation from the Premiership –well, parachute payments over four seasons amounting to £48million. Even the T.V money in the Championship is a minimum of £3million.

Sounds very appealing. The problem is that Turkeys will not and never will, vote for Christmas.

At this current time, the EPL in particular are ready to enter into negotiations for a new T.V. deal. The early rumours surrounding such are that the EPL has now been marketed so well that SKY has a fight on their hands for the rights. The Qatari Royal family just so happen to own Al Jazeera T.V. and they wish to outbid BskyB for the rights to the Premiership.

Their motivation being, that with the upcoming World Cup in 2022 they wish to promote the seriousness of the game, and what better way to do it than acquire one of the biggest leagues in the world. Certainly the best marketed league in the world.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility of a T.V deal in the region of £2billion being paid.

So where would this leave Celtic. Well, taking for granted that the EPL and Championship do not want them. Even the lower leagues, with the promises and opportunity of such riches would not want any slim chance that they may have jeopardised by a huge, worldwide brand like Celtic coming aboard.

I would say that it is a closed door policy, and Celtic aren’t getting in.

An argument has been had that T.V. may wish a large club like Celtic – perhaps, but it would be more likely for this to occur alongside Rangers. The rivalry outsells anything each individual club could achieve and I am afraid that this is an idea that has never been raised by the T.V. companies. It is also safe to say that with a club of Celtics size and following larger clubs like Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Man Utd et al would hardly welcome any potential competition for the trophy.

It just doesn’t suit.

The only way in would be in the form of an Airdrionians and Clydebank style buyout. For this to happen though, Celtic, and all their history would need to be wiped from the floor in order to start again. This will be the history that so many Rangers fans appear upset at losing when faced with the business sense decision of liquidation. People do not want their brand to die for anything.

So what about another theory that the SPL will thrive without Rangers?

Many seem to think that, without the money Rangers and their fans undoubtedly bring to the SPL table, other clubs may thrive. Well, my fear is this – that they will never have the chance to thrive – because quite simply, their finances are now so reliant on Rangers and Celtic income that without either or, they would plunge very quickly toward their own peril.

Dundee United have been well documented recently as only being given something in the region of £30’000 by the bank from the sale of a £500k player. With debts running at a reported £10million – the loss of any T.V revenue in the coming years not to mention the possibility of no gate receipts from two budgeted Rangers games at Tannadice, the outcome could be catastrophic. Costs would need to be cut YESTERDAY to save them from the banks wrath.

Aberdeen are another team – low attendances and with debts anywhere in the region of £12-14million.

Kilmarnock – another club in the £12million bracket.

We already know of the problems faced by Hearts, arguable the 3rd force in Scottish football. Definitely, a club that comes with a substantial support. The possible demise of Hearts AND Rangers in the same season would leave the SPL on the cusp of potential bankruptcy.

Even a club like Motherwell, a team that has learned its own harsh lesson from Administration, would be looking at budget cuts of almost £500k per season without Rangers. That is a massive loss of income for a club the size of Motherwell. In fact – it is the sort of cut that would see the side verge on the course of Part-Time football.

The truth is, with the debts of many SPL clubs, the money from Rangers fans throughout a season, coupled with any T.V. deal being lost could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Celtic appear to be on a reasonably firm financial footing, and I have no doubt that the club could sustain itself with no problems without Rangers – but the question is, would they have anyone left to play?

Yes, the argument that SPL clubs could adapt and become stronger is a nice one. In reality it is probably nothing short of fanciful. Rangers may die, but the debts of the other clubs won’t- and without one of the biggest sources of finance, either directly or indirectly, the future would look rather bleak.

Would Celtic sustain their brand without Rangers?

This is the question with the least definitive answer. Celtic, undoubtedly, have a large following. Forget worldwide figures at the moment. In Scotland, Celtic command approx. 60’000 fans to their ground on a regular basis. Celtic also carries a large away support that, like Rangers, consistently sells out their allocation.

There is no doubt that the happiest day in a Celtic fans week is when either A) Celtic win and Rangers lose or B) Celtic beat Rangers on Old Firm day. The same is reciprocated across the city. Without these games, the argument would have to be that T.V interest in Scotland would go from minimal to zero. Forget the current debate over the SPL T.V deal and needing four Old Firm games. Let’s presume that contract remains in place – the truth is that it will not last forever, and when it extinguishes, the renewal (without Ranges) would be far less.

I am sure someone will ask the question: How do you know that? Or, How can you say that?

I can, trust me. I will happily eat my words if I am ever wrong on that.

Inevitably, Celtic would romp on their way to the SPL title without Rangers. There would be absolutely no problems in that. In the face of other teams becoming weaker with a reduced income I can only imagine that Celtic in their current state could easily go through a season undefeated.

Would the fans still want that? Would this attract the Celtic fans?

Every Celtic fan I have heard from says YES, it wouldn’t get boring winning all the time and they would turn up. I can only take their word for it – who am I to call them a liar!

The history books would tend to disagree. During the triumphant 9 in a row days when Celtic dominated Scottish football, coupled with European success, attendances fell to as low as 8’000, and an average of 24’000. Figures only rivalled by those in the times pre-McCann when the club was in turmoil.

I am not saying that this would definitely apply today, but with no Rangers to beat and a seemingly straight path to title glory I am not certain that, over time, Celtics appeal may be lost to their own.

Of course, there is always the natural excitement of the Champions League. The question that would need to be asked there is, with SPL success coming at such ease: would Celtic maintain a strong enough side to compete at such a level? That is a question that only time could answer.

Of course I put many pitfalls in the survival of the SPL without Rangers. I am by no means saying that it is the only way things could pan out, that it would be all doom and gloom.

However, having spent time working within several SPL clubs, and having spoken to current employees of, there is a real fear from within the current crop of SPL clubs of what might happen without Rangers. In fact, without revealing too much detail or my source, at least one SPL club is currently drawing up a major contingency plan for life without Rangers – and it doesn’t bode well for many employees.

I am a Rangers fan; many may say that it tints my view on life without Rangers. In this case it really does not. I do not simply say that the SPL will die without Rangers, of course I don’t. I do think that many within the league could struggle as a result and that the quality of the league, at least in the short to mid-term, would be dramatically decreased.

You never know what could happen in the future – long term perhaps things might work out grand, but the long term does not keep people in jobs.

How do I think it will actually pan out?

I hedge my bets on the following. Glasgow Rangers will dissolve and reform as Glasgow Rangers (yes, this is entirely possible under the Insolvency Act). A New owner will take over the club, perhaps a consortium, perhaps even with fan input. Rangers will be accepted back into the SPL on purely financial grounds. Rangers will suffer point penalties for several seasons which won’t matter a great deal as they will be unable to play European football anyway.

All in all, that may sound simplistic but as we all know – it is probably how this whole sad saga will eventually pan out. With little to nothing changing, just Rangers with a clean balance sheet.

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6 Comments on “With Or Without You……”

  1. perthlurker Says:

    Hi Garry

    Mist of the info is rational but yoy are way off base with your comments about Celtic sustaining the brand.

    I live in Perth WA and its a growing global brand. Celtic can expand the brand outwith 4 games per year, young talented overseas talent helps.

    Rangers have cheated using other peoples monies and in all likelyhood cheat other clubs out of monies, the financal rewards could actually be better for clubs without Rangers. I was at Parkhead when Hearts brought over 15,000 fans.

    The rest of your arguements are a great read.



  2. I wouldn’t want anyone to misunderstand my own personal viewpoint and that of hypothetical hypothesis.

    The signing of players such as Ki, and Cha Du Ri were not completely on footballing merit alone. Celtic were obviously,and rightly so, looking to exploit further markets worldwide. I have absolutely no doubt that Celtic are a growing global brand my only personal fear is that, with or without Rangers, Celtics potential to grow worldwide may be hampered somewhat due to the global phenomena that is the English Premiership.

    Celtics global brand would be ill effected by and rivalry with Rangers. IMO anyway.

    What i am suggesting is that, with no crystal ball it is impossible to say what would happen within Scotland. Of course, without Rangers things could be rosy in the garden my fear is that this is a long term achievement and half of the SPL clubs might not survive short term to achieve any long term goal without Rangers cash. It’s very catch 22.

    As for Celtic, anything could happen without Rangers – all that i have done is suggest that the history books do not look too favourably upon Celtic attendance figures in periods when they have had unrivaled success. Unless someone stepped up to the plate then unrivaled success is exactly what Celtic would have – over a lifetime, i would fear such simplistic victory would lead to boredom.

    However, all of that said – it is completely hypothetical. It is impossible to tell what would happen without Rangers, it is all just speculation and opinion.

    Thanks for the comments,


    • perthlurker Says:

      Hi Gary

      Thanks for the reply and sorry for the typos but using a phone!

      Just a wee aside to put things in perspective my aussie wife said at midnight the other night

      “What can be so bloody important that your phones going mental, has someone died or is it just stupid football stuff again!”

      Wondering if i should consider divorce

      • HA i must admit my own phone has went into nuclear meltdown in the past few days. One one hand i have my gloating Celtic supporting mates: some desperate to rub it in and others desperate for some form of information. Others desperate to get some form of rise out of me.

        I’ve got my Rangers supporting mates: some of them angry, some of them suicidal and some of them without a clue as to what any of this means.

        Not to worry, I am not going to get upset or angry – what’s done is done. People can talk about punishments and mis-judgements from now and forever more but the realism of such will never satisfy all parties. There will always be someone who want’s more.

        Many Celtic fans are interested bystanders in such a situation but of course, as would happen if roles were reversed there are others that would rather be right into the arse of everything- fantasising daft ideas in public (i must add that goes for many Rangers fans also, there is not a day goes by i don’t get a text saying someone heard blah blah blah ‘insert ridiculous legal possibility here’ )

        Indeed i would say Scotland has recently acquired a large bank of people with a sudden interest in insolvency law matters. I can guarantee that such matters are far from interesting.

        Whatever the outcome, only time will decide it. With the current financial climate within the U.K and with the possibility of independence upon us – Football in Scotland, with or without Rangers is in a period of gross uncertainty anyway.

  3. […] With Or Without You…… (garryjbmacinnes.com) […]

    • I have read that – i would have been very surprised if Celtic were to come out and say that ‘oh shit, RANGERS – aw naw we canny live withoot them naw…”

      If Celtic feel that they can prosper without Rangers then fine, that is 100% their prerogative. There is absolutely NOTHING to say that they are wrong, but it is easy to hypothesise before the experiment takes place. Same as it is easy for me to do so also.

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