“Our job is to put forward players who represent value for Rangers. You can look at a player who costs £1 million who quickly becomes worth £5 million. It’s about trusting your judgement. If there is a deal worth seven figures, and we think it’s value, we’ll put it to the board.”
– Mark Warburton
A great deal has been made of this quote, discussing the notion of a million pound player with the potential of days of more lavish fees splashed out on players possibly returning to Ibrox.
But the question is more do Rangers need one rather than can the Club afford one.
The easiest model to compare to is Robbie Neilson’s Hearts. Getting promotion at the first time of asking under a new boss, new board, and almost entirely new players, the Hearts structure worked because they signed wisely, used youth, and trusted an untried manager with the entire project.
They currently reside in second place in the SPL, after having had a summer signing spree – but spending spree?
Hearts spent £0 during last summer’s window – they did not shell out a six-figure sum never mind seven. And yet sit happily near the top of the table.
But here is the crucial point: while Rangers will have to enhance the squad/first team over the next two windows to achieve a similar competitive edge come next season, they will not need to spend £1,000,000 on any player to achieve it – Aberdeen, likewise having a stellar season, did not shell anything out last summer and they sit third.
Where the difference lies is competing with Celtic. To do that, yes, seven-figure sum players will need acquiring. The Parkhead side remain happily bringing in plenty players of that value, a market Rangers are nowhere near ready to compete in – but to challenge for domestic supremacy, they will have to.
Hearts, Aberdeen, St Johnstone – all operating on zero budget. Rangers’ summer business (circa £700,000) was the second-highest spending spree in Scotland, but Celtic are on another planet to all, financially, and while these sides put up a decent fight and sit comfortably upper table – they will not get close.
Only Rangers will. Only with seven figure signings. But they will not be critical to survive in the SPL.
When ambition goes beyond that, they become essential.