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Can the SPL survive without Rangers?

Until now, the state of Scottish Football has never really been called into question, in terms of both finance and quality. However, in light of the recent situation at Rangers and their financial breakdown, many people are questioning whether or not Scottish Football can continue to function progressively without the Ibrox side.

Like most situations similar to this, the debate provides a double-edged argument.

On the one-hand, the demise of Rangers could simply open up the SPL in terms of competition for European places. This competitive edge to an otherwise tame establishment could see teams such as Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts and Motherwell potentially challenging for second place. This in turn could lead to an increase in attendance figures at these grounds due to the fact that their teams are competing for a much larger prize in terms of competition money and qualification for European competitions. Statistically, attendance figures at SPL grounds are much lower than they were 5-10 years ago and this consequentially leads to a lack of finance at clubs.

However, for Scottish Football to function successfully, the teams require a large financial contribution from TV companies which has been the backbone of the survival of the game in a number of countries for many years. It has been suggested that if Rangers are to go under that Sky and ESPN are likely to withdraw their coverage of SPL matches due to the lack of interest amongst fans. This therefore means that SPL teams run the risk of financial difficulties and this move could see the SPL soon become a part-time league. With Rangers gone, the SPL simply becomes a one-horse race every season because it is clear that no other team can compete with Celtic and this means that TV companies will not be willing to screen matches from a league which has little or no competitive edge at the top end of the table.

To summarise, the situation and potential outcome at Rangers could have both positive and negative effects both in terms of finance and competition. On a personal level as an Aberdeen supporter, I feel that the demise of Rangers would be a significantly damaging development for Scottish football and one which could take decades to clear up. It is clear that no matter what the outcome at Ibrox, Scottish Football will never properly be the same again.

About Ewan Forbes


  1. Andy McDougall says:

    Firstly, I think the state of Scottish football has been questioned many times in recent years, both in terms of quality and finances.

    As to whether the SPL could survive without Rangers the short answer is yes. Sky and ESPN would not simply fully withdraw their funding, although the deal might well need renegotiating.

    In every crisis there is opportunity and if Rangers were to be removed from the SPL then it opens up not simply an opportunity for other clubs to achieve higher league positions but also an opportunity for change in terms of league structure and financial distribution.

    Scottish football might well suffer in the first few years were Rangers to go under, or be demoted to the Third Division or what have you, but if the situation is managed correctly and the other clubs take advantage of the situation positively but sensibly then there is no reason why the long term product cannot be improved.

    What is certain though is that with or without Rangers Scottish football needs change and needs a breath of fresh air.

  2. Ewan Forbes says:

    It has been in question, but not by the people who are in charge of the game. Only this has happened in recent weeks and months.
    I cannot see Sky and ESPN continuing to plough money into a league where the title is a foregone conclusion, especially when that money could be distributed to other leagues and other ventures, possibly outwith football.
    I really do hope that the remaining 10 non-old firm teams do take positive action and perhaps capitalise on the demise of Rangers.

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