Martin Dowey’s column: Troubled times for Glasgow Rangers

A view of Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 2, 2012. The futures of Rangers staff and players remains unclear following another day of talks with administrators Duff and Phelps. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
A view of Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 2, 2012. The futures of Rangers staff and players remains unclear following another day of talks with administrators Duff and Phelps. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.

MY column of a couple of weeks ago was focused on how the big clubs can get away with anything in the financial world.

It seems that this might not actually be the case, as Scottish giants Rangers look to be the first of the big boys to come crashing down to earth.

Director Dave King admitted yesterday that liquidation will be inevitable at Ibrox, which has stunned me because, in the past, there has always been some sort of escape clause for these struggling clubs - well apart from Scarborough FC.

It must have finally struck home for fans of the Glasgow club when the players started walking away, with Scottish under-21 Gregg Wylde generously turning down any pay-out and heading for the door.

I’m sure more will follow, completely breaking up a team that won the SPL title for the third time in a row just a few months ago.

In a couple of years when the dust has settled, these players will all be fine. No doubt many will be plying their trade in English football or for other top Scottish clubs. In contrast, things may not be so rosy for Rangers.

If liquidation is confirmed then the club will have to drop through the Scottish Premier League trap-door and may find themselves in the lower reaches of the country’s football ladder.

This is something that happened to Gretna a few seasons ago after their meteoric rise following a switch from the English Northern Premier League.

Gretna went under while playing in the SPL and now they are languishing in the East of Scotland Premier League.

Things may be a little bit different if Rangers do drop down to that level. Gretna’s Raydale Park can fit 2,200 fans through its turnstiles and Rangers this season have been averaging gates of just short of 50,000.

Who knows what will happen to Rangers’ Ibrox base, but you don’t lose that many fans overnight, many will still come and watch whatever level the club is playing at.

With a hefty fan-backing, it shouldn’t take Rangers long to charge back through the levels, a string of consecutive promotions will surely be on the cards. But in the meantime, what happens to Scottish football?

The Old Firm of Celtic and Rangers have dominated the leagues north of the border for years.

The last team to win the title, that wasn’t Rangers or Celtic, was Aberdeen way back in 1985 when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm.

Since then, Rangers have won 17 titles and Celtic have scooped nine.

So without this Old Firm rivalry will Celtic get better and better and dominate by themselves?

There doesn’t seem much challenge from down below, Celtic are currently 24 points clear of third-placed Motherwell, and with Rangers gone, the bookies won’t be taking any bets once the first ball is kicked in a season.

The only positive thing may be the fact that it might be a struggle to tempt the hordes of foreign players into a league that is already won. It might mean that the best young Scottish players are given a chance to shine, which will in-turn boost the Scottish national side.

Whatever happens, I think the Scottish game needs the Old Firm, so hopefully the usual last-gasp saving offer will come in.

I enjoy a good blood and thunder Celtic and Rangers clash on TV to wake me up on a Sunday afternoon. It certainly has more of a selling point than watching Dunfermline against Kilmarnock.