Are Celtic fans missing Rangers?

Published on 13 May 2013


The grumbles about the lack of passion in the Celtic support have been gaining prominence since Celtic’s European campaign ended this season. The team isn’t turning up, the fans aren’t turning up, the passion’s gone, it’s not the same – stop me if you’ve heard it.

Let’s take stock for a minute; when Celtic took to the field against Barcelona at Celtic Park and the outstanding 125th anniversary celebration display organised by the Green Brigade was unveiled, any talk of the passion being gone would have been laughably dismissed. The noise, the pride, the joy and the unflinching support warmed the breadth of Europe on that cold winter night.

But some important things have happened since then.

Firstly, there was Lord Nimmo Smith’s judgement on whether Rangers were guilty of rule breaches and fielding ineligible players during the EBT years under Sir David Murray. In short, the investigation ruled that yes, Rangers had broken the rules. However, failing to register player paperwork required by the SFA’s rules, which were observed by all the other clubs, resulted in no sporting advantage (no, really), therefore punishment would handed down by way of a fine to a club that doesn’t exist anymore – and would subsequently never be paid.

Lord Nimmo Smith’s judgement would also have had Scottish football fans believe – had they been stupid – that the new club at Ibrox, which began life in what has emerged in recent months as extremely questionable circumstances, could be considered the same club as the Rangers that went bust owing millions of pounds to over 250 creditors. And guess what? They get to keep the trophies!

It was nasty OldCo Rangers that broke the rules, but all was well because Charles Green ‘bought’ the trophies and all the history carried over to a brand new Third Division club, we were expected to believe.

It was a slap in the face to Celtic fans, to all Scottish football fans. Over at Third Division Ibrox, fans of the new club were having a splendid time discovering rule-breaking wasn’t such a big deal and enjoying a new found love for the old songbook. We’re debt free, boasted Charles Green, and you’re all just a bunch of bigots was the cry heard for months after Charlie became the big chief – only just, you had to strain to hear it over the Billy Boys.

A good friend told me last month that he hadn’t renewed his season ticket this year. This is a man with absolute dedication to Celtic but beyond angry at the increasingly shambolic handling of a football scandal by the domestic authorities. Until he could be sure that there would be some justice, he wouldn’t renew his season ticket, he would break his own heart and stay at home on match days. Others approached the situation differently, but I respect and understand his decision and why he felt it was the only one he could make in the circumstances.

What didn’t feature in that decision was any notion of missing Rangers. Rather, the lack of the Ibrox club had been an improvement on the season for him, and I do believe he spoke genuinely.

This season’s passion for a great number of fans lay in the European campaign, which not only catapulted Celtic back onto the European radar with some fantastic results for the club, but it didn’t involve Scottish football.

Scottish football is the set-up that sees Neil Lennon punished by the SFA for using a word that Irn-Bru think is suitable for broadcast in its TV adverts. Scottish football is the set-up that has stumbled spectacularly from one Rangers crisis to another and bent over backwards to accommodate a club that has shown less and less regard for the rules. Scottish football is the set-up that has Campbell Ogilvie, former secretary and director at Rangers during the rule-breaking years, as the president of the Scottish Football Association.

And as if everything fans have had to observe in disbelief over the last few years as the Rangers implosion unfolded wasn’t enough, they’re now faced with criminalisation from their own Scottish government for supporting a football team.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act was introduced by the SNP government in a knee-jerk reaction to a bad tempered tie between Celtic and Rangers. The policy of the government to throw the book at troublesome football fans – often the kind that express political views – led to the shameful kettling of 200 football fans who committed the crime of, ironically, attempting to stage a protest march against criminalisation and police brutality.

Celtic fans ended last season on a high because their rivals were going bust. It was over; the city rivals whose fans had spent decades dreaming of wading up to their knees in Fenian blood and the football club with the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish signing policy was no more.

If Celtic fans had known at this time last season that the disastrous financial policies and blatant breaking of rules would be so easily dismissed in less than 12 months, a fair few more of them may have opted for my friend’s route and given up their season tickets.

The truth is that Scottish football has been sold down the river and the latest revelations on the chaos that is Sevco leaves the impression that goings on at Ibrox are given something of a pass by the footballing authorities.

Celtic fans have not suddenly lost the passion for the 125-year-old club that has been a central part of their lives because a rival football club – which had been a safe-house for bigotry, discrimination and racism for decades – went out of business.

While Scottish football scrambled to find some credibility, Celtic fans turned their attention to Europe. Without Europe, all that is left is a playing field that no longer requires speculation on how even it is. Scottish football needs drastic change and league construction isn’t the simple answer. The whole truth must be laid bare before the game can move forward. An era has just ended and the transition to a brand new period in Scotland is underway.

22 thoughts on “Are Celtic fans missing Rangers?

  1. Patrick Smyth May 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Excellent incisive and well written (as always) @angelahaggerty. The debacle and how it has been handled has indeed had an extremely negative affect on the Celtic support. Disappointed with the SFA as well as our own board.
    Keep up the good work

  2. gerry31 May 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm Reply

    Absolutely correct to highlight the overall disenchantment with the game. I feel much the same.

    Like many, I suspected football in Scotland was skewed & I feel cheated knowing football authorities were complicit in financial & sporting irregularities.

    LNS judgement was simply awful. We saw good lawyers employed by the SPL & acting on their instructions, holding back from searching questions & the infamous Sandy Bryson telling a seeming incurious judge that sporting integrity wasn’t compromised.

    Anyone who values sporting fair play must be sickened by those events & some have voted with their feet & pockets.

    My own view is that Celtic shouldn’t be punished by fans withholding season ticket revenue.

    We played by the rules, managed our affairs impeccably & in doing so buried our bitter rivals.

    Job done.

  3. murdina May 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm Reply

    never a truer word said

  4. Steven oneill May 13, 2013 at 8:50 pm Reply

    Nail hit firmly on head Ms Haggerty. There does seem to be a certain amount of apathy,certainly at home games,amongst the core Celtic support. I don’t think this has anything to do with sevco plying their trade in division three,i for one do not miss their presence for a minute,but more about the treatment they have received.

    For me, the blame for this has to be laid firmly at the door of our staggeringly inept governing body.The SFA have bent over backwards to ensure as smooth a path as possible for this new club.From the granting of a temporary licence,and there is nothing in the SFA constitution to allow this,to the supporting the same club nonsense, right through to the secret five point agreement, they have been at best inept and at worst corrupt.

    Sadly,they are not alone in this respect.The Scottish media,both broadcast and print,still perpetuate this same club illusion.On various phone in shows when the question is asked,the stumbling and bumbling from the assorted pundits is laughable. A couple of weeks back on Radio Clyde,which is probably the most pro sevco station around,a Celtic fan brought this up.After the usual fudging and deflection,just before the caller was cut,Derek Johnstone claimed,rather loudly,’140 years and counting’ to the caller. This is the level of deceit we are facing here.

    There is an on going investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority surrounding the sevco marketing campaign,the trophy count and 140 years history etc,yet the silence from the SFA is deafening.They could end this whole sorry mess with one press release.So why don’t they? Are they hopelessly conflicted and the secret agreement implicates them in this? Are they worried that maybe UEFA might take a long overdue interest? As you say they appear to have been given a pass by the authorities.This i think is to blame for a lot of the mood in Scottish football at the moment.

    At every club there seems to be a what’s the point attitude.It is more noticeable among our support as we are the largest.The SFA let rangers and sevco compete in the Scottish cup despite not submitting audited accounts.This is against UEFA rules as it is a tournament that provides European qualification.They have again missed this years date for submission of accounts,have you seen anything in the press or heard a broadcast about this? For me this is the root cause of the apathy in supporters.It has never been a level playing field and it looks like it never will be.Sadly it looks like some of the aforementioned are determined to brow beat everyone into submission.

  5. James Cameron May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm Reply

    Well written and well said. Ultimately the SFA must be torn down. The current incumbents can’t be trusted with the future of our game.

  6. Tony Hendrix May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm Reply

    No,they are an irrelevance,we need our streets safe to walk without those zombies crawling from under the gutter.
    Btw,your article is awful,(as always),please use common sense when you blog in future,you may get a job with Jab a Tray nor if you continue like this.

  7. droid May 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm Reply

    Disband the SFA

  8. Gm May 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm Reply

    You’re a pure Rangers hater…you’re a bigot….it was the “operating company” that died…Charles Green took over the club…Rangers were kicked out of the SPL and relegated…

    Just preempting the usual replies from the delusional Sevconians when the truth about this whole omnishambles is spoken.

  9. Tic-ked off May 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm Reply

    Completely agree the blatant corruption has killed the game for me I find myself spending more time watching other sports now, saddened that I put so much time money blood and tears into a sham.

  10. valentinesclown May 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm Reply

    I have not yet renewed my season book yet for CP and have boycotted the scottish cup due to the corrupt dealings of Sevco by the Sfa. Campbell Ogilvie looks after his former club and sickens me to the core. We all know that the sfa will do all it can to save watp govan fc. I chose to boycott Hampden as a protest as it is all I can do but at least it is some form of action I can do as one person. What if anything is my club doing?

  11. Liam Fowler May 13, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Kind of agree with most of that , but I do get a feeling of déjà vu as the the events of last summers liquidation event looks set to be played out again this year again.
    Probably with the same predictable efforts from the establishment to keep the already long time dead patient alive and on life support

  12. James Forrest May 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm Reply

    I miss them like I’d miss crabs with razor sharp teeth and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. The worst thing is, the version of them that died has nothing on the Frankenstein’s Monster of corruption and hate which has risen in their place.

  13. Jim smith May 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm Reply

    Awww the poor wee Selik fans being victimized by the police, and for the crime of signing songs about murdering women and children with bombs (Shocking). Only in Scotland could this happen, in no other country would fans supporting illegal terrorist groups be picked on in such a way.

    Meantime in the real world, someone utterly obsessed with Rangers writes another blog about Rangers in which she tells us she has no interest in Rangers???? An entire website with filled with blogs about something the author claims does not exist???

    Come on Angela just admit it you have zero interest in Celtic or should that be pacific shelf 595 ltd formed in 1994?

    • James Cameron May 14, 2013 at 10:40 am Reply

      Outstanding reply Sir! Your immense intelligence and wit shines through and illuminates with the brightness of one million lights.

      Alas it appears someone forgot to turn said lights on.

  14. Charlie FES May 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm Reply

    You lot should get out a bit more,if you took as much time pondering your own clubs
    Scandalous history you’d appreciate how difficult it is preventing undesirables getting a foothold in positions of power

  15. John May 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm Reply

    Great read Angela! Hit the nail right on the head 😉 As a bit of an outsider, living in Melbourne, I am astounded at the complictiness between sfa and rfc! How on earth CO is still in office baffles me? Do miss the build up to the OF games and the bragging rights, however quite glad of the respite!! Keep up the great work 😉

  16. bob mcfarlan (@bobfarl) May 13, 2013 at 11:07 pm Reply

    No matter how water tight you make the argument Angela you will never convince them.
    Please read” how to cure a fanatic” Amos Oz . History will be a bigger judge .
    20 yrs from now people will view the corrupt actions of SF in re licensing that club under those circumstances

  17. Sweeney Hughes May 13, 2013 at 11:56 pm Reply

    Thank you Angela.


  18. Chris May 14, 2013 at 1:57 am Reply

    I thought I’d miss Old Firm games, but in fact have not missed them at all.

    It’s a moot point, however. Regardless of whether one misses the presence of Sevco in the SPL, the rule breaking by oldCo Rangers and the attendant lack of (true) remorse has been so egregious that it is only right that at the very least Sevco works its way back up through the divisions. And the role of the so-called Scottish football authorities in this debacle — truly pathetic. Don’t know of another major sporting league with such a toothless leadership prone to making ill-advised decisions.

    As someone who has spent most of my life outside Scotland, my observation is that the enmity that went along with the oldCo-Celtic rivalry is without a doubt something Scotland is better without. What that means for Sevco, I have no idea. But I do look forward to the day when Celtic are playing in an environment that reduces that rivalry to a historical relic.

    Do I miss Rangers? Why would I? I’m a Celtic supporter.

  19. AyrshireScot May 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm Reply

    We’ve had a Judge of the Supreme court of Scotland say it’s legally the same club.

    We’ve had two QC’s say it’s legally the same club.

    We’ve had a judge last year in a legal case against the SFA say it’s legally the same club.

    I’m fully confident that these independent,learned gentlemen have more legal expertise and knowledge than you Angela.In fact Lord Nimmo Smith fully explains the legal realities of why it’s the same club,in his judgement from the SPL commission.He also goes on to fully explain why there was no ‘sporting advantage’ and the only ‘stupid’ people are the ones who can’t read and understand it !

    I curious as to what proof you have of any anti-Irish signing policy.What would you say if I told you that in Celtics history from 1888-1979 Rangers signed 300% more Irishmen that played in the first team than Celtic did(one even went on to be the manager of the ROI team),would that mean Celtic was more anti-Irish than Rangers were ? The same Rangers who fully backed and voted with Celtic,for their right to fly the tri-colour after the SFA tried to get it removed in the 50’s.Incidently without Rangers vote they would have lost the right to fly it,as everyone else was opposed to it but Rangers stood firm and backed Celtic !

    There’s a good few other things I could comment about but the suns just come out and I’m away out to enjoy it for the short time it’s usually here 😉

    • Angela Haggerty May 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm Reply

      A book coming out this summer will lay out that hostility to Irish people, you might want to keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, the Billy Boys and the Famine Song will give you a flavour of the anti-Irish fan culture.

      On the club issue – when Sevco pay off all the creditors Rangers left behind, I’ll agree they are the same club. Until then, nice try.

  20. Joe Findlay May 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm Reply

    Commendable article which pretty much covers all bases. I can honestly as a dedicated football fan concurr with the narrative on falling out of love with our game, I think many of us ordinary fans are sick of the reactive, knee jerk and half hearted approach by our governing bodies. I have divorced from attendance and have not missed the game. The Rangers debacle is the icing on the cake. I was thinking of starting The New Third Lanark and just claiming their old titles if anyone fancies a game? Now that one REALLY needs clearing up and possibly by UEFA and not our spineless leaders.

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