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The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley.
July 6, 2012 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Football's Most Dangerous Rivalry: Celtic v Rangers

But with Rangers F.C. crumbling, many are left wondering what will become of the Old Firm rivalry.

The decline and fall of the Old Firm.

Timeline of Rangers financial turmoil.
posted by laconic skeuomorph (29 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had no idea it was this bad. There may not be a Rangers club for the first time in 120 or so years.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:03 AM on July 6, 2012


At least there won't be any change as regards Rangers' impact on European competitions.
posted by Abiezer at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Can't say they'll be missed.

Its a shame that the whole of Scottish football relies on the old firm though.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:07 AM on July 6, 2012


So how did Rangers end up in liquidation, anyway? I understand that the proximate cause was unpaid taxes, but how did they end up so far in the red in the first place? I thought the Old Firm was basically a license to print money. Was this the hangover from one of those shady LBOs that seem so popular in British football lately, or just a lot of overspending?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:24 AM on July 6, 2012


What's happened to Rangers and the dominoes it causes to fall all over the SPL is a grim warning of what might happen to La Liga, another national league that is dominated by power of two main teams (Real Madrid and Barcelona). Spain isn't exactly swimming in cash right now and without the international dollars that come into the sport via the participants in El Classico, they may find their current perch as the lead world football superpower decidedly brief.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2012


We hate Glasgow Rangers,
We hate Celtic too,
They're sh*te!
We hate the Ross county
But Caley we love you,
Altogether now!!!

We love you Caley, we do,
We love you Caley, we do,
We love you Caley, we do,
Oh Caley we love you...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:26 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


LBO gone wrong, I think.

People should watch the documentary above the fold for nothing else than enjoying the cognitive dissonance associated with a Muslim Rangers supporter-cum-EDL member.
posted by brokkr at 7:27 AM on July 6, 2012


I'd say good riddance, but no doubt another strong Glasgow club will be playing at Ibrox next year. The sectarian rivalry within the Old Firm, and to a slightly lesser extent Hearts/Hibs, and their resulting violence should be an embarrassment to Scotland.
posted by rocket88 at 7:27 AM on July 6, 2012


WinnepegDragon: is that an Inverness Caledonian Thistle song? If so, right the fuck on!
posted by Edison Carter at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2012


rocket88: "no doubt another strong Glasgow club will be playing at Ibrox next year"
Which club? Rangers will be starting over in the lower leagues.
posted by brokkr at 7:31 AM on July 6, 2012


WinnepegDragon: is that an Inverness Caledonian Thistle song? If so, right the fuck on!
posted by Edison Carter at 9:29 AM on July 6


Yup, my wife and I were married in Scotland and kind of ended up adopting Inverness as a second home.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:35 AM on July 6, 2012


wow, that new statesman review is brutal.

also @rocket88, i don't know what you're referring to re hibs/hearts and the "slightly lesser" sectarian rivalry. at it's core, that isn't a sectarian rivalry. on the fringes, maybe. but most hibs and hearts fans will go to great lengths to avoid that kind of stuff, despite their "hatred" for each other. and what sectarian violence are you referring to in edinburgh? of course, there is sectarianism in edinburgh like elsewhere in scotland but it doesn't come close to what you find on the west coast and never has.
posted by iboxifoo at 7:41 AM on July 6, 2012


So how did Rangers end up in liquidation, anyway? I understand that the proximate cause was unpaid taxes, but how did they end up so far in the red in the first place?

For about 10 years Rangers paid their wages to players through an employee benefits trust (EBT), a type of discretionary fund usually based offshore to avoid tax.

EBTs had always been a very grey area legally, but the law hardened significantly in last year's Finance Bill, and the loophole was closed. HMRC was given the power to investigate EBTs retrospectively to recoup the lost tax.

In Rangers case, HMRC are claiming it is owed £93m.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:43 AM on July 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Ok, well, that's the end of the bant-o-meter."

I'd love to see the results of an actual bant-o-meter poll of more than one football fan. Understand the demographics of what different people think is ok to say at a match, or on the street. He seemed to think it was fine to taunt people, but expected them to not respond with violence. There was some pretty obnoxious taunting in there and the bant-o-meter only raised to 50/50.
posted by mapinduzi at 7:43 AM on July 6, 2012


(by the way, that £93m is total figure that includes the EBT taxes and some other unpaid tax since Craig Whyte's takeover of Rangers)
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:44 AM on July 6, 2012


i've long advocated the best solution for scottish football would be to eject both celtic and rangers to their own miserable league of bigotry where they just play each other relentlessly all year. their fans would love that. this seems now the perfect opportunity to enact this.

removing the old firm would allow a new flourishing of scottish football where teams outside the old firm would regularly challenge for silverware and gain european experience. gates would increase, offsetting at least the shortfalls in the absence of the (overrated) old firm away supports. i think only sales of buckfast in the provincial towns of scotland would suffer immeasurably.
posted by iboxifoo at 7:46 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So how did Rangers end up in liquidation, anyway? I understand that the proximate cause was unpaid taxes, but how did they end up so far in the red in the first place?

Reckless spending under the previous management.

Rangers went on a no-holds-barred attempt at winning the Champions League, and spent massively on international players (particularly Dutch ones), in a vain attempt to equal Celtic's 1967 European Cup win. And never really came close. The league in Scotland couldn't support either the money needed, or the level of competition required to compete effectively in Europe on any sustainable level.

All Rangers current woes - administration, liquidation, expulsion from the SPL - can be traced back to David Murray and Dick Advocaat.
posted by daveje at 7:52 AM on July 6, 2012


iboxifoo: I have family who grew up practically in the shadow of the Easter Road grandstands who were Hearts supporters, along with all their friends, simply because Hibs were "the Catholics' team". Granted, this was 20+ years ago, so hopefully I'm talking about something that's long in the past.
posted by rocket88 at 7:55 AM on July 6, 2012


Yup, my wife and I were married in Scotland and kind of ended up adopting Inverness as a second home.

Awesome! I chose Thistle as my SPL team years ago when I learned that my Scottish forebears came from Inverness.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:02 AM on July 6, 2012


The problem with seeing this as an opportunity for other clubs to step up in the absence of Rangers is that I think the SPL's commercial contracts have clauses that allow them to be cancelled if one or both old firm clubs leave the leaugue.

No old firm derbies seriously harm the ability for the league to make money, and they weren't that well off to start with.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:13 AM on July 6, 2012


The BBC did a 25-minute documentary on the Rangers-vs.-Celtics rivalry last September. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/docarchive/docarchive_20110922-0500a.mp3
posted by wenestvedt at 8:20 AM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


at it's core, that isn't a sectarian rivalry. on the fringes, maybe. but most hibs and hearts fans will go to great lengths to avoid that kind of stuff, despite their "hatred" for each other.

That wasn't my experience spending a year in Edinburgh as a teen and attending a school with equal parts Hibs and Hearts supporters. God I hope it has changed -- what a blight. Almost as much of a blight as the racism and hatred against south Asians.
posted by docgonzo at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2012


Thread needs a spot of Ballboy
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2012


I liked The Flying Rodent's take on Rangers troubles:
And so Scottish football is in a position to do the entire nation a favour, here. At Westminster, there are hundreds of ostentatious demands for high earners to pay their damn taxes, the same as the rest of us do. There are a thousand pledges to run a river through the Augean stables of tabloid media and a million promises to end bonus culture and stop the banks rigging capitalism in their own favour.

Here's the difference though - having declared their intent to uphold morality in the face of severe intimidation from proportionately similar entrenched interests, the SFL clubs may actually do it.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:44 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any other Americans read the first sentence and spend a couple minutes trying to figure out why the Boston Celtics (basketball) were playing football against the Texas Rangers (baseball)? No, just me who can't read then? Good, good, carry on.
posted by maryr at 1:44 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, wait, was it the fact I mentioned the jags that got my comment deleted, or was it the bit about (true story) being spat on for wearing green and having to hose out the stairwell after a game? I am confused.

Or could it be 'cos I called them Huns, a common mildly derogatory term for Rangers and their fans?
posted by scruss at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2012


I've kind of made it a point to watch Rangers matches when I can ever since Claudio Reyna first went there. (I'm a Bocanegra fan, too.) I've been, at best, a casual fan. I knew the rivalry between Celtic and the Rangers was epic, but I had no idea it was this dark. Excellent documentary and post.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2012


So does this mean Catholicism has triumphed over Presbyterianism?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:15 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rangers are being punished for a number of things. Paying wages via a dodgy tax scheme, compounding the problem by writing letters saying "don't worry we promise to pay to x for playing y", the whole point of the scheme was that it should never be made explicit that payments were in effect wages. (The money was supposed to be a "loan" though one that no-one expected to be paid back.)

The worry about the (now long overdue) judgement on the legality of the Big Tax Case meant the previous owners were desperate to flogging on the team before the brown stuff became airborne.

The old regime had made noises about selling only to those with Rangers' best interests at heart. Since the sale the new owners seem to have done everything to complicate the situation and to annoy as many people as possible (not paying Social Security, making threatening rumbles anytime justice had to be applied, not paying bills, taking the football authorities to the civil court- which is seen as beyond the pale by the totalling authorities). The club has since been declared as being in liquidation- though the guy that bought the assets is pretending that he bought "the Club" and would like everyone to believe that the club has somehow continued (the real cludgie still owes circa 130 million GBP to various creditors (taxman, other teams, bus companies, face painters, cateters, ambulance and police services.

To compound the already toxic situation the press in the West of Scotland has been seen by all non Rangers fans of continually trying to minimise the crimes and to call for Rangers to be magiced back from liquidation and the search for somone to play at Ibrox so that they and their readers can pretend Ranger's still exist.

What this has meant for me is that I have barely kept abreast of the News Intl fiasco so much time have I spent following this dark and complex wee stushie.
posted by Gratishades at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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