We’re seeing a bit in the news today about how Rangers (and Celtic) were the most expensive venues in the Champions League last season for away supporters to travel to, with the Ibrox giants charging fractionally less than their east-end neighbours at €68.85. The cap set by UEFA is €70.
Some might argue that this shows the Old Firm clubs fleecing visiting fans in the competition, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.
This only shows just how little revenue Rangers (and Celtic) make domestically, how both clubs have to maximise income in Europe because unlike every single other club at the group end of European competition, especially in the Champions League, Rangers are a goliath of a club in a goldfish bowl while a, for example, Club Brugge is a modest-to-big side in a league which earns them good revenue.
In other words, both Old Firm clubs have to exploit the Champions League and/or Europa League where possible because unlike other clubs, our domestic market is far too small.
Indeed, Finance Chief James Taylor alluded to that in this article, where he explains the Scottish domestic league is so far behind that it just doesn’t earn the cash alone that Rangers need.
Therefore Europe is beyond critical, and we have to maximise every cash stream possible here.
And one of those is charging the highest we feasibly can for away tickets.
Man City? Mega rich, only charged £35 for visiting fans. Didn’t need to charge big cash to compensate for any domestic deficit.
See, Sparta Prague were at Ibrox recently – Czechia is a big country, and they have a few strong sides in their domestic league – the two Pragues, Plzen, Liberec… but none of these clubs are as big as Rangers, and they survive just fine in their domestic league with revenue streams that fit their size.
But Rangers? Too big for Scotland, admittedly like Celtic, and when Europe comes along, it is imperative to get as much cash from that as possible. Even in doing so, Rangers’ accounts only barely just reported a profit.
So it’s not a negative story, it’s a necessary story.
No other sides in the Champions League are as big as Rangers or Celtic but suffer such a small and insufficient domestic market like the Scottish Premiership.
It’s no wonder we charge visiting supporters so much.