Every year, it’s the same. The press hype up the latest Rangers team as world beaters. They typically start out well, for a time they may even match us.
However, usually by the time January comes around, their obvious deficiencies are exposed and they fall by the wayside, paving the way for another league winner’s party at Parkhead.
I spoke yesterday of reports that a potentially massive tax bill that could see it’s way to Ibrox in the not too distant future.
This is just one of a myriad of issues they have to contend with, but which you won’t read about in the likes of The Sun or the Daily Record, since it goes against their prevailing narrative.
Mike Ashley, the living embodiment of the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, has not gone away. He is, in all likelihood going to be due a payout from Sevco soon that could easily run into 8 figures.
Whatever we may think of Ashley’s morals or his approach to workers’ rights, he’s proven himself a master of the art of capitalism. He loves money, and god help anyone who tries to deprive him of any amount that he thinks he is due.
That the numbers in Rangers accounts simply don’t add up should be a concern too. Indeed, were our national game governed by anyone with a semblance of competence, their right to compete in Europe and indeed their eligibility for domestic competition would have been called into question. Then again, when the governing bodies allowed you to financially dope the league for more than 20 years, why change a winning formula?
However you feel about Rangers, it’s undeniable that they have, in their 8 years of existence been allowed to break, skirt around and sometimes just ignore several fundamental rules of corporate governance in ways that other clubs simply would not be permitted to do.
It really isn’t fair that any club wanting to enter the SPFL Pyramid system must present several years of clean accounts in advance, when their second biggest club can’t even tell you where their funding comes from.
Celtic should have been leading the charge demanding accountability in this regard, but instead they tamely hide behind the need to “move on, for the good of Scottish football.”
What all this tells us though, is that the people managing this current version of Rangers learned nothing from the death of the last one. The continue, with the same arrogance, the same flagrant disregard for rules and distain for basic standards of competence.
I had held out hope that some time in the lower leagues may have taught their fans some humility, and perhaps even allowed the fair-minded among them to root out the minority of bigots who so frequently embarrass them.
That notion was quickly torpedoed too.
If anything, the last few years have made them worse. The vilest elements of their support, who revel in slander, child abuse and sectarianism, seem even louder and more obnoxious than before.
They certainly haven’t made many new friends in the past 8 years of rebuilding.
Celtic, meanwhile, haven’t pushed forward like we should have either.
The fact that this season is even a challenge at all is an indictment on our board, and their lack of ambition.
For too long they hid behind the easy excuse of “look what happened to Rangers, do you want to end up like them?”
The minute Fergus McCann took charge of Celtic in 1994, any danger of such a calamity befalling us was confined to history.
Since then, Celtic have been one of the most carefully run businesses in British football.
Indeed, I think we have been too cautious.
With a little bit of speculation, and some more investment, we could have been out of sight of everyone in Scotland years ago.
I still believe we can make up ground in the league before the end of the year.
I believe that, come the festive period, we will be in a position where a win against Rangers in the new year game could take us above them in the table.
They will stumble, they will fall, they always do. But we can’t wait for it to happen.
Celtic need to invest big in January. We have the money, we have the resources. Thanks to the loyalty of fans who continued to buy season books and new strips even as the rest of the world went to hell this year, we are better placed than most to come out of this pandemic in a stronger position.
Rangers will be doing well to get to May in a state of solvency.
They are there for the taking, but our board needs to have the ambition, the courage and the ruthlessness to do what must be done.