Celtic travel to play Rangers tomorrow in what a lot of people will see as simply another Glasgow derby to be fought out between the two old rivals.
But this one could be historic for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, Celtic could clinch the league title at Ibrox for the first time since 1967. This depends on whether Motherwell can take all three points from a visit to Kilmarnock today, but the scenario that football’s governing bodies always try to avoid could come to pass. A loss or draw for Motherwell would mean that Neil Lennon’s men can become SPL champions with a victory at Ibrox.
And secondly, this could be the last time that Celtic travel across the city to play their oldest rivals in a league match.
I’ve written at length about the financial troubles of Rangers FC PLC (in administration). And, despite the positive noises coming from the laptop loyal amongst the Scottish media, I remain convinced that the club will be liquidated sooner or later.
The players may have taken large wage cuts, but only until the end of the season. And a fair chunk of the money saved will simply go to pay the hefty fees of administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse from Duff & Phelps and their staff, plus the court costs for the many legal cases that the club has been involved in. Neither administrators nor Queen’s Councils come cheap.
But all of this is simply a series of short term measures that attempts to ensure the club can fulfil its remaining league fixtures.
The long term financial problems that the club faces remain totally unchanged. The debts are still there. Ticketus still owns 100,000 or so future season tickets. And the Big Tax Case still looms on the horizon – yes folks, the gorilla is still in the room.
But, I hear you cry, a queue of consortia from across the globe are lining up to save the club, aren’t they? The administrators are looking at bids to buy Craig Whyte’s shares, the fans are busily raising money and Ally McCoist is showing prospective owners around Ibrox.
Well, let’s put this great use of McCoist’s “skills” to the side for a moment. Reports are that the various fan money making schemes have so far raised around £200,000. In total. Or, to put it another way, about 0.16% of the £125,000,000 or so that would be required to save the club. Way to go!
And the bids? Well, firstly, has anyone actually heard Craig Whyte say that he intends to sell his shares? Inconvenient as it might be to many people, he still owns 85% of the club.
And secondly, to be accurate there have been no actual bids made, none. There are simply conditional expressions of interest should Whyte’s holding actually be put on the market. A firm bid would be, “I’ll give you £2 for your shares, Deal or no deal?” No one has said anything like that.
Instead the interested parties have said that if there was no big tax bill and if the Ticketus deal could somehow be magiced away, then they might perhaps be interested in making a firm bid to purchase Craig Whyte’s shares.
Now that’s very different, isn’t it? But what exactly does a conditional expression of interest amount to when the conditions set are quite simply not going to happen?
It would be like me saying I am interested in buying a company for £100,000,000 but only on condition that I win the Euro Millions jackpot and the main Lottery draw the next night in a week when it is a triple rollover. Don’t hold your breath in other words.
The only way that Rangers FC PLC (in administration) can be saved is if Craig Whyte agrees to sell his shares, the purchaser agrees to pay his price and the new owner is then prepared to pay off the £125,000,000 debts. And, according to David Murray, the club would then need a further £25,000,000 of investment to become competitive again.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.
The club will be liquidated. No one will throw that sort of money away knowing that there wouldn’t be a return on it. The various consortia, those led by Paul Murray and Brian Kennedy amongst them, are simply jockeying to be in position for the asset sale that will come when the club is inevitably wound up.
There may be another football team formed, and it may at some time play its home games at what is currently called Ibrox. But it will not be Rangers.
So, to get back to the football, tomorrow then could mark the last time that Rangers v Celtic is seen on a fixture list.
Neil Lennon and his men will be desperate to return to winning ways after the disappointment of losing out on the League Cup last week. There could well be several team changes with injuries to Hooper and Forrest on the manager’s mind. Georgios Samaras could have a big part to play after being dropped to the bench at Hampden.
Rangers will be battling to avoid a fourth consecutive home defeat, something I believe has never happened to date. And, should Motherwell drop points, they will be desperate to avoid a Celtic title winning party taking place in their back yard.
It promises to be a historic afternoon on the south side of Glasgow.