WASHINGTON, July 13, 2013 - Soccer is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.
What a week in soccer. D.C. United got a huge surge in enthusiasm when new owners, with plenty of cash, came on board. The New York Cosmos rose from the ashes and will play again next year. And today, Glasgow Rangers, once one of the most noted teams in the world, has been expelled out of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and demoted into the soccer wilderness, to play in the fourth tier of Scottish soccer due to financial difficulties.
While it’s been a good week for soccer in America, the news out of Scotland is very, very sad. It’s hard to believe that Rangers, now referred to as “newco” Rangers, a team that has won a world record 54 league titles and used to pull in over 50,000 fans, has gone bankrupt big time. In fact, the old Rangers no longer exists.
Today’s decision by the Scottish Football Association is probably the biggest bombshell in the history of the 122-year-old institution.
With respect to those lovely Scottish towns, Rangers, in its new incarnation, will have to play against semi-pro teams such as Elgin City and Berwick Rangers, in venues before crowds of 3,000 to 500 at the bottom of Scotland’s soccer pyramid. Can someone pinch me. Is this really happening?
I lived in Scotland for a year in my younger days and visited Glasgow often. The Old Firm game - the clash between Celtic and Rangers - is a game not to be missed and one of the great soccer derbys in world soccer. Now that great fixture no longer exists, well, not until Rangers get back into the SPL, or, are drawn with Celtic in a cup game. The Old Firm game once drew 118,000 fans in the 1930s.
Can you imagine the Washington Redskins or the New York Yankees going broke and forced to play against Division II college teams?
The impact will be felt in the SPL, which is said to be the 11th most-attended league in Europe, ahead of Switzerland, Austria and Norway. Without Rangers, the SPL could lose $20 million and more in TV money rights. The league fan base will likely dwindle. Without Rangers, crosstown Celtic will probably win the league every year. American defender Carlos Bocanegra, one of the three Americans who played for Rangers last season, said Celtic will win the title by Christmas. You have to go all the way back to the 1984-85 season to find when a club other than Rangers or Celtic won the league. Aberdeen won it that year coached by Alex Ferguson. He then moved south to coach Manchester United.
“Some crazy news today. Wow” wrote American midfielder Maurice Edu on his twitter account. He also played for Rangers last season, and like countryman Bocanegra and Alejandro Bedoya, is looking for a new club.
A crazy day indeed.
* For over 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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