LOVE THEM or loathe them, Rangers have always been a Scottish football institution – why else do you think the SFA hierarchy drove a Caterpillar D10 bulldozer through their rule book to keep a “Rangers” entity in Scottish football following the events of 2012.
The Cat D10 the SFA used to re-write the rules and keep Rangers alive
And, before the usual suspects start nipping my ear – if the same fate was to befall, the other lot, they'd fire-up the 'dozer again – some clubs are too-big to fail.
So, I was somewhat disappointed this week to learn, Rangers are now a “selling Club”. FFS, get a grip – football economics is now in such a mess – EVERY club is a selling club. Do you think, if some other club came along and told Real Madrid: “OK, we will give you €250,000,000 for CR7”; they would say: “No thanks”. Of course they would sell him, in football, everyone has their price.
But, for those of us old enough to remember when Rangers really was Rangers – when the club stood for something – even if we held our noses when we gazed upon their signing policy, this week's announcement from Director of Football Mark Allen was a bit of a blow.
Rangers were traditionally a destination club. “Once a Ranger – always a Ranger” and all that. The death of a former footballer, who perhaps played for several clubs, and enjoyed success elsewhere, either before or after a short spell of perhaps just one season, is usually marked by the headline: “Former Rangers star dies”.
As more than one former player has said – after Rangers the only way is down. So, it is sad that those inside Ibrox now accept, in world football terms, the club is now small beer.
Indeed, in the eternal battle for one-upmanship across the Old Firm divide, while the Rangers fans have been on the defensive and taking huge amounts of flak over their club's recent travails – the taunt: “You're nothing more than a feeder club for Southampton”, does hit home.
That clubs such as Southampton, whose history cannot remotely be compared to that of the two Glasgow giants can now pick-off their stars at will: well, that merely shows how the commercial imbalance towards the obscenely over-rich English Premiership has turned the football world upside down.
Celtic, of course, has always been a “selling” club, but, with Rangers, top players only left if they had had a fall-out with the management, if the offer was too-good to refuse and if they had blotted their copy-book and been moved-on – in the case of Jim Baxter, for all three reasons. Otherwise, they stayed until they realised, they were no longer first choice and it was time to go.
The great Jim Baxter - a rare example of Rangers selling an asset
Now, assuming they ever get back to having such talent – young Scottish players who would, in past years have gone on to become domestic legends, will be sold to lesser English clubs for whatever they can get. Aye, further evidence of the decline in Scottish football.
BRUNO Alves likened the Scottish Premiership to playing in the Porto B team, after Saturday's opening league game between Motherwell and Rangers. He said the similarity was because: “The ball was always in the air”. Now, I find that really depressing.
You see, I have had to take-down that quote before. Following his debut for Irvine Meadow, against Kilwinning Rangers, some 30-years ago, former Rangers player, the late Colin McAdam told me: “You could play midfield in this league and never touch the ball, it's always in the air”.
Colin McAdam - 30-years ahead of Alves in seeing the problem
It is one thing to have two teams playing as if their inspiration was Peter Kaye's character from yon John Smith's beer advert; quite another to have one of the most-experienced and respected defenders in Europe saying that after his debut in the top flight in your country.
That Scotland, the country which, through Queen's Park and the early “Scotch professors”, invented the passing game, reduced to hoofing the ball up in the air – can we get any worse?
Of course, aerial football was an English invention, the old Route One game beloved of yon wacky wing commander who worked-out, the sooner and oftener you lashed the ball into the penalty area, the more-likely you were to score. Well, give me “tika-taki”, the 21st century incarnation of the Queen's Park game, over hoof it and hope any day.
By the way. Even when they were one goal down, and rapidly running out of time, the Danish girls, against the Netherlands, in Sunday's Women's European Championships final never resorted to Route One football. It's not good enough for the top women's team, but, they still play it our Premiership. Nae wonder we are going backwards faster than yon WWII, Ferrari-engined Italian tank of myth and legend.
YOU CAN “never say never”, but, at the time or writing, this blog has no intention of deviating from our view, we need the European Clubs Association to get their act together and institute the European version of the North American sports franchises which will properly allow the top clubs and the top talents to co-exist and earn their right money.
Peter Lawwell - the ECA could do worse than pick him
So, I was intrigued to note that Celtic's Peter Lawwell could be a candidate to succeed the great Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as head of the ECA.
He might have a chance – the Europeans will not be keen to have an Englishman, should there be one of sufficient standing, in situ. A German succeeding a German, unlikely, so, to avoid rivalries between the French, the Italians and the Spanish, a suitable “neutral” candidate must be found – wee Peter could just be the man.
We might be shite at the moment, but, given Scotland's place in the development of football and, the fact we are not England.