Will Sunday be the last time that Celtic will ever play Rangers in a Scottish Premier League match?
The notion may have been quite unthinkable at one time, but with the crisis ridden Ibrox club sitting on the very edge of liquidation it could well be the case.
In footballing terms this match means nothing at all. Celtic are the champions. The league title was clinched several weeks ago. Rangers will finish their final SPL campaign in second place. So there is only pride to play for. But in Glasgow footballing pride means an awful lot.
This is also a clash between two managers who have been much in the news of late.
In the green corner will be Neil Lennon. The Celtic manager has been much vilified for actions like arguing with a referee, stating that officials make mistakes and having death threats and bombs sent to him. Well, he brings it on himself, doesn’t he? That’s what we read in the media anyway – if we bother anymore.
But Neil Lennon will have the last laugh, as he will be the one celebrating a championship win before scouting for summer signings and looking forward to planning a Champions’ League campaign.
In the blue corner is Ally McCoist. The former Question of Sport captain and oldest apprentice boy in town finally got himself a real job. And the result has been failure all round. His team has entered five competitions, winning none and making little mark on any of them.
And his cowardly remarks in midweek about the need to reveal SFA tribunal members’ identities resulted in the Neanderthal element of his club’s fans issuing more threats of violence against those who refused to accept that one club should be above all of football’s laws. McCoist didn’t even have the courage to apologise for his outburst. No, instead he claimed that he didn’t really expect the obvious outcome. But then he never was that good at the What Happens Next round, was he?
McCoist’s attention has clearly been on the mess that his club has got itself into. Note to the mainstream media – this crisis is not something that has happened to Rangers. They are not victims of some malevolent external force. They got themselves into this mess by their own actions.
Now let’s not forget that as well as the lengthy administration process that continues to achieve little apart from make money for the administrators, McCoist’s club has still to hear the results of the SPL inquiry into the illegal contracts that accompanied EBTs.
And the gorilla of the Big Tax Case is still sitting in the corner, waiting to have its say.
Failure on the field, near liquidation off it. SFA penalties, SPL penalties to come. HMRC waiting to pounce. Sounds like an omnishambles to me.
Yet administrators Duff and Phelps wonder why the list of potential buyers for the club seems to keep shrinking? If you were looking to buy a boat, would you go for one covered in rust and with a massive hole below the water line? Thought not.
Come to think of it, where are the two remaining bidders for the club? Both have been awfully quiet this week. I thought there was yet another deadline to be met? Or have the Blue Knights stepped back again? Has Bill Miller driven off back to Tennessee in his tow truck?
Still there was some good news for the beleaguered Ibrox club.
Should they somehow manage to form a new club before too long, it was confirmed this week that there might be a place in the SPL’s third division going spare. If, that is, they can manage to prove that their facilities are up to the required standards and then win a vote against any other club that fancies applying.
But what are the chances of the current club being successfully liquidated quickly enough to allow its assets to be sold off to a new entity?
Never mind all of the creditors and their demands for a share of whatever the eventual garage sale will bring. First there are issues like Ticketus’ claims against the club or perhaps against Craig Whyte, the Motherwell non-billionaire’s own position as secured creditor and Andrew Ellis’ case against Whyte for the quarter of the club he says he was promised.
I can see the whole thing ending up in a series of costly and time consuming legal battles. And that would mean that assets would be tied up until everything could be resolved to the satisfaction of the courts. Add in the inevitable appeals against whatever decisions are reached and the whole saga could drag on for months, if not years.
It is entirely possible that Ibrox will lie fallow next season.
So back to the football. Who will win the last (for now) Glasgow derby? Well obviously I’m going to go for a home win. But more than anything I just hope that Celtic’s players manage to escape serious injury against thugs like McCulloch who have nothing at all left to lose.
Come Monday we can all go back to discussing matters of finance and law. But for a couple of hours on Sunday we can concentrate on matters taking place on the football field. It could well be a historic occasion.