Having spent my entire life in the west coast of Scotland I’ve been subjected to my fair share of trials and tribulations as a football fan. Growing up in a town a half hour journey from Glasgow there has always been pressure to support Rangers or Celtic, something that was doubly prominent for myself as a family member had played for one of the Glasgow ‘giants’. I decided at an early age however that I was going to support Kilmarnock. My house at the time was atop a hill and if you stood on your toes you could just see the newly built East Stand poking above the rooftops.
With Kilmarnock being positioned within easy driving distance of Glasgow and the ferry ports of Troon and Stranraer, the club always welcomed a higher than average away crowd when either Rangers or Celtic came to visit. This, whilst good for the clubs finances was not so enthralling for the local fans. The Scottish Premier League must be a statistical anomaly in European football when the majority of clubs home gates go down whenever the two biggest clubs come to visit.
You can’t imagine that Rayo Vallecano have an average of 15% less home supporters for games versus Barcelona or Real Madrid. There will be of course a number of varying factors for this strange occurrence, but I know that for myself and a lot of other supporters the reason they do not attend matches involving these teams (or do not bring younger family members) is the poisonous atmosphere created.
Sure, Rangers and Celtic will claim that they are fighting the battle against Sectarianism. However ask any supporter out with the Old Firm and they’ll confirm that the bile and hatred spouted by these so called football fans is alive and well. Part of the problem is the footballing authorities (in Glasgow as well as Nyon) are terrified to make a stand. There have been countless UEFA delegate match reports that have included mention of these songs being sung. And all the SFA/SPL have to do is turn up at any Old Firm away match and they’d hear the full repertoire of songs and chants for themselves. Miniscule fines are no longer enough.
The fact is that Scotland needs Rangers and Celtic. They are what the television companies pay for – they are who the major sponsors want to be affiliated with. Anyone who doesn’t agree with that statement needn’t wait too long for proof however. With Rangers’ well documented financial troubles having finally surfaced, liquidation is a very distinct possibility.
If that does happen then the six man SPL board (comprising of the Chairmen from half of the member clubs – including Celtic) would have to vote on whether to allow the new incarnation of Rangers to enter the SPL. Even with Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawell’s brash claims that “Celtic can still thrive without Rangers” you can bet your completed tax returns that Celtic would be the first club to vote YES on any proposition.
In amongst all the doom and gloom engulfing Scottish football there are many positives. The national side have a large group of young and exciting prospects coming through the ranks (exhibited perfectly in a thrilling win for the Under 21’s away to their Dutch compatriots) which has been aided by the financial mess that Scottish football appears perennially to be stuck within. Clubs can no longer afford to even match the wages that a player could get from any League One or League Two side.
So more and more clubs are through necessity turning to their youth academy to produce players ready for the first team. This necessity however may in the long run be the saviour of the game north of the border. If the authorities could finally bring themselves to wheel out that proverbial giant fan to blow away the remnants of sectarianism and bigotry then the bright future for our game may just very well have a chance to shine.
Introducing the neat little app that’ll pay you to view content tailored to your interests:
ThisisFutbol.com are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “email@example.com” to learn more.