A new business, Sevco Limited, bought the assets of the old club, which included the training ground, Murray Park and the home ground, Ibrox Stadium. They rebranded as The Rangers International Football Club, the holding company of the Rangers Football Club. They play in the same colors, they play in the same stadium, they even have some of the same players, but they are not the same club.
Many of the old Rangers fans as well as their sympathizers in the British media continue to espouse the theory that Rangers were harshly treated and immorally demoted to the Scottish League Two, the fourth tier of the game in Scotland. They were not. In fact, they were treated differently from all other clubs seeking admission to the Scottish League by being fast tracked into the fourth division. Far from being demoted, the new Rangers were in fact promoted and did not earn their way into the league.
The new Rangers Football Club is a tribute act. They may play in the old Rangers strip, they may play at Ibrox and they may embrace the same history, but they are not and never will be the old Rangers Football Club. That entity is dead and with it died the concept of the Old Firm.
Are there Celtic fans that miss the rivalry with their former bitter opponents from Govan? Yes. However, those in the media who push the notion that Scottish Football needs the return of the Old Firm are deluded. Modern Scotland and by extension modern Ireland need to leave behind the notion of the Old Firm and the poisonous atmosphere the rivalry generated. There are Celtic fans that grew up in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s who no longer want anything to do with the bitterness of an Old Firm game. Scottish football is better without the bigotry, sectarianism and hatred that Celtic v Rangers games brought to Scottish and Irish society.
Celtic may dominate the league for the foreseeable future, but it is not a foregone conclusion that they will do so indefinitely. There is a resurgence in the game in Scotland and clubs like Aberdeen and Dundee United will provide viable competition to Celtic in due course. The fact that Aberdeen, Raith Rovers, Hearts, Kilmarnock, and St. Mirren have won cup competitions since the old Rangers folded is a boon to the game in Scotland.
Scottish Football does not need old Rangers spending lavishly and living beyond it means in a futile attempt to surpass Celtic’s cherished nine-in-a-row titles triumphs of 1966-1974, or to attempt to win the European Cup, now the Champions League as Celtic did in 1967.
Scottish Football does not need a club whose fans continue to embrace an imperialistic identity, nor their continued singing of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic songs at home and away games. It does not need the ‘We Are the People’ complex that the majority of Rangers fans continue to hold dear to their hearts. It is an attitude of a superiority complex prevalent in South Africa and America’s deep south, which now belongs in the dustbin of history.
Scottish football needs a Rangers whose owners and supporters admit to the mistakes of the past. A Rangers that pays its debts and works within a budget. And a Rangers, which accepts it no longer has a preferential place in Scottish football or Scottish society.
New Rangers will eventually gain promotion to the Scottish Premier League and focus will be placed on the fixtures with Celtic, but the Old Firm will not contest the games. A new rivalry will take its place, one that should be shorn of the old history. That may be wishful thinking, but in the 21st century racism, bigotry, and sectarianism have no place on a football field.