A dreadful week for Rangers was not only compounded in defeat to Celtic but in the realisation a Champions League gap in finances has widened between the two sides.
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Celtic’s recent transfer business and continuing Champions League qualifications are not so much becoming a hurdle for Rangers to clear but a chasm.
In order to do so we need smart management of our resources, effective leadership and in-house harmony, all of which have been sorely lacking for the last three seasons.
And everyone at the club – from the boardroom to the dressing room – must share in what is a monumental failure to keep touch with the Parkhead side just games into the new campaign.
The new squad on the park, the new coaching team in the dressing room, the new CEO and chairman in the boardroom; all are responsible for what’s been a thoroughly dreadful and confidence-sapping start to the new season.
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Champions League failure hands Celtic advantage over Rangers
As unexpected and disastrous as last season’s Champions League qualification was, the finances involved allowed Rangers to keep an arm’s length between ourselves and our Parkhead rivals.
This after the club’s run to the Europa League Final helped to plug the gap of Steven Gerrard’s Champions League capitulation to Malmo.
This was a step forward in the hunt to close the financial aperture which has opened up across the last decade and as a thank you we sacked the manager who achieved it. We all did, supporters included.
And we all felt pretty vindicated at the time, let’s not forget that.
But as Celtic reach the tournament’s group stages courtesy of Rangers’ Europa League forays, the failure of the club to take their chances on the continent and in the Premiership have seen us now take two steps back and the situation looks increasingly ominous.
Champions League qualification comes with prize money of £13.5m, whilst Rangers have handed Celtic the full £6m share of TV money.
Throw in those Parkhead gate receipts and the prize of sizeable win bonuses and suddenly Celtic are on course to rake in north of £20m in the competition this season.
This income will of course be off-set by Rangers’ performance in the Europa League but it’ll take quite something to reverse the gap’s expansion this season.
Celtic have also flexed their spending in recent seasons, spending the guts of £40m over two campaigns under Ange Postecoglou, and then close to £20m this season, under Brendan Rodgers.
Jury out on Rangers rebuild
This season, in the rebuild of rebuilds, Rangers opted to break even rather than invest in a squad in bad need of improvement and in even greater need of confidence.
It has – unsurprisingly – come back to haunt us with Michael Beale looking more and more like the manager of Championship relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers by the day. No offence.
That Rangers failed to clear the Champions League hurdle, let alone the Celtic one, is a smite on not only the shaky management of Michael Beale but also the shaky management of those at the top of the club.
This was supposed to be a positive new era at Rangers but as Celtic widen the financial gap and with the jury out on the Gers’ new-look £13m forward line, you can’t escape the feeling that we’re going backwards.
With the focus now shifting away from an incompetent management team and up the marble staircase, it’s on those who’ve been entrusted with steering Rangers to fix it.
John Bennett is reportedly sticking by Michael Beale for now and that’s a show of confidence which the bulk of the Rangers support don’t have in them at present.
But having failed to strike whilst the iron was hot post-55, Rangers are now staring at years of mediocrity and the club’s supporters are crying out for proper leadership to halt this alarming slide.
And whether it comes from on the pitch, in the dressing room or in the boardroom; it had better come soon.