On 11 August 2012, Rangers played Peterhead away and could only muster a draw on their opening game of the season. It took a last minute equaliser by Andy Little to gain a 2-2 result. It was certainly not the result the 4,500-strong capacity crowd were expecting as title favourites Rangers were given a rude awakening in the Scottish Football League’s lowest division.
It was a sad day for Rangers, but not everybody realised that it would turn out to be a disaster for most other teams in the Scottish Premier League, because of the disastrous lower gates for the next few years, due to thousands of missing Rangers supporters at every game. The Scottish Premier League’s loss was the SPFL’s gain. Our support filled nearly every ground in the third division and the away teams and their fans treated us as very welcome guests and our board members were welcomed with open arms. Changed days for Rangers to be treated well by other teams.
Most teams supporters were laughing at us in our present predicament and none more so than Celtic, Dundee United, Aberdeen & Hibernian. Look what has happened to Celtic, Dundee United & Hibernian since then. For four years, Celtic our fiercest rivals were hoping we would suffer irreparable damage and the club would die. It is reputed by their board that they have lost around £10 million per year since our fall from grace. The only way they could survive this loss was to sell their best players and buy in much cheaper ones, which they did. Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk, and Victor Wanyama were sold for big money to the Barclay’s Premier League and the downside of that policy was they lost about 15,000 supporters at Celtic Park each game because the team playing in a non-competitive league just got steadily worse. This situation stopped Celtic from leaving us miles behind financially, and if we can be very successful with our new signings for next year, we will not be that far away from being genuine competitors for the title next year.
Dundee United look like being relegated this year and Hibernian are really struggling to win any games at the moment – lovely! Aberdeen seem to be doing alright with crowds, as they are second in the league this year, without really being serious challengers for the title. With Rangers out of the top league, interest in our game in England didn’t exist. People spoke about it down south but they don’t any more, but that will change when the Old Firm games start again on a regular basis next season.
All Rangers supporters are looking forward to this Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden, when we get the chance to test how good this Rangers team are under our new management team of Mark Warburton & David Weir. Celtic are favourites, but I hope Rangers to do themselves justice this time. We are much better than we were last year, and I also think that Celtic are worse than they were – so let’s hope we hit our usual form, and win the game.