Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rangers in the red

Glasgow Rangers yesterday lodged papers signalling their intent to enter administration. The statement made by Craig Whyte was as opaque as his previous business dealings still remain.

He stated that the move had been made to 'protect the club' and with the possibility of liabilities to Her Majesty's Customs of more than 50M it may well be that he is acting in Rangers' best interests. His past and lack of disclosure on his previous dealings however means it is hard to either believe or understand what his true motives are.

Whyte stands accused as an alleged fraud and charlatan in his business dealings yet whilst he rules the roost currently, it is the previously heralded maverick reign of David Murray that has put Rangers into such a disastrous position. His ludicrous spending now appearing to be paired with illegal means of paying the players. The only thing that has not yet played out in this saga is that Peter Risdale hasn't offered to come to the rescue.

No club should ever feel it is too big to fail. Supporters of both Leeds and Fiorentina (both more famous names in European terms) would surely vouch for that. Where Rangers differs from either of these clubs is in terms of its' domestic stature as part of an all conquering duopoly with Celtic.

Whilst nearly everyone in Scotland that does not support Rangers will find great mirth in the plight of the blue half of Glasgow, the reality is that should Rangers cease trading, the implosion that would face Scottish football would be catastrophic.

Nearly every professional club in Scotland lives beyond its' means with Hearts as an example under the stewdardship of the Rasputin like Romanov struggling to pay their players on a monthly basis. The budgets - we use the term loosely - that these clubs use is based on television income, advertising and gate receipts which revolves around a huge percentage of income from matches against the Old Firm.

Should Rangers go under, every single contract or financial arrangement that these clubs have will be left null and void in terms of these club's ability to fulfill those commitments. Television and advertising income will dry up and the liabilities in terms of players' wages will become unserviceable. In basic terms, they will all have to enter administration also.

For Celtic, currently enjoying the plight of their neighbours, the perils are in some way the greatest as they have the furthest to fall. Their chairmen yesterday said that Celtic do not need Rangers in order to operate and in many respects he is completely accurate. What he is missing however is that in any sport where you remove all semblance of competition, that sport crumbles and dies.

Celtic's attendances, always far and away been the best in Scotland (even taking Rangers into account) have already started to teeter and without their closest rivals, can they really expect packed houses for a league that they will have already won by January?

The lack of any seriously competitive games will seriously hamper their already challenged European ambitions also. Their squad would face serious downsizing to that required to win the league given the remaining level of competition and the financial reality of the appeal of that product.

No one is to blame for this sorry mess other than Rangers themselves and the revelation yesterday by Whyte that Rangers were still operating at a 10M annual loss (presumably interest payments) despite the slashing of their playing staff and gates of close to 50,000 was quite staggering.

Scottish football has been a mess since the late 80s due the entirely lop sided nature of the league and every fan in Scotland will be feeling delighted about Rangers' predicament given their endurance of watching Rangers win nine in a row on the back of racking up a credit card debt that Mr Murray and the Ibrox side had no means of paying.

David Murray's legacy to Rangers it would appear is not the fantastic training and youth complex that bears his name and is actually an abyss for them to fall in to. The problem for Scottish football is that black holes aren't selective about what gets sucked in, they take everything without exclusion - No Nonsense.