Many Celtic supporters were crestfallen last Thursday to learn that Rangers may not be liquidated after all. Four potential buyers had declared an interest by the previous day’s five pm deadline.
I am told that exchanges between Celtic and Rangers fans on Facebook, which had already reached new levels of sectarian intensity, were further boosted by the (possibly premature) glee of Blues’ supporters at their apparent salvation and the complementary chagrin of Bhoys’ followers at a much-anticipated opportunity to dance on Rangers’ grave being snatched from them at the next-to-last moment.
But none of this should be taken to mean that the clubs themselves are at daggers drawn. The Celtic board and Rangers’ administrators are set to join forces at a Scottish Premier League meeting tomorrow to scupper plans for an overhaul of the SPL’s voting system.
At the moment it takes an 11-one majority for any significant change. The reason for this stipulation is obvious: to give the Old Firm a veto. No other league in Europe has any comparable provision.
Dunfermline chairman John Yorkstons has threatened that the other 10 clubs may resign and form a league of their own if the Glasgow giants refuse to budge.
This move has been mooted before, most recently in 2002, over the distribution of television revenue. But it wasn’t carried through then and is likely to prove an idle threat this time too.
Still, you never know.
Says Yorkstons: “Everyone recognises football is crying out for change . . . However, standing in the way of change at the very top end is the 11-1 structure. Democracy would be best served if we went to a 9-3.
“I know the Old Firm are unhappy at 10 other clubs talking together, but they get together themselves on issues such as joint sponsorship deals and ticket prices, so why shouldn’t we?
“One week Celtic are telling us they don’t need Rangers, the next they are saying they and Rangers make up 85 per cent of the Scottish game and have to get their way.”
Whether or not the other clubs can force the big two to play on a level pitch, the argument is a reminder that the phrase ‘the Old Firm’ is far from a term of affection but refers to the way the two clubs have been making common cause when it comes to business for more than a hundred years.
The fans may frequently have been kicking lumps out of one another. But the bosses have ever been in cahoots.
In football as in real life, money doesn’t talk, it swears, and what it swears is allegiance to no flag.