There are many great soccer rivalries: El Clasico, the shared home of Milan, the highly anticipated Manchester derby, and Argentina’s biggest rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate. But there is one feud in world soccer that just seems to surpass all others: The Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic.
Scotland’s two most successful clubs are two of the most successful clubs in the world. They have been the dominant force in Scottish soccer since the 1890’s, inciting fans across the country to create an incredible atmosphere. I should know. Many times, I have been there to witness some of the greatest games ever played.
However, the scary thing in Scotland is that this rivalry could and to a certain point may already have died.
It is well documented that Rangers suffered some tough times in recent years and at one point it appeared as though they might not make it through at all. In the end they did, however, at the expense of playing top flight soccer. They were soon relegated to Scotland’s lowest tier, and despite winning the division by a country mile, they are still years away from being where they once were.
In the meantime, Celtic dominated Scotland like a shark in a fish tank. They tore through their closest “competitors” with ease and turned in some tremendous performances on the European stage. Most notably, a 2-1 win over Barcelona at Parkhead that saw them qualify for the last 16 in the Champions League in 2012.
This season has been no different. Celtic continue to dominate the SPFL, having lost just one game, a narrow defeat in February. Celtic were even able to set a new clean sheet record just to prove their dominance. Rangers have been similar, dominating performance in Scotland’s League 1. However, their financial problems have not dissolved even when the club did.
If I am honest, I don’t think anyone really has a “scooby doo” about what is happening at Rangers. They were hemorrhaging money for months despite having an average attendance of around 45,000. They lost a reported £14 million in 11 months, which provoked a response from those controlling the club as they asked for players to take a wage cut. In all fairness, players in Scotland’s third tier shouldn’t really be making £5,000 or £6,000 per week. The players’ argument that non-playing staff should accept lower wages should not be ignored as well.