by Kevin Henning

The ongoing soap opera revolving around Glasgow Rangers and Scottish football in general took another turn last week when “an overwhelming majority” of SPL clubs voted against the Newco Rangers being admitted back to top flight football. (The) Rangers are now obliged to approach the Scottish Football League to request a place in one of its three divisions. This, we are warned, could be disastrous for the professional game as a whole north of the border, as money generated by the presence of the Old Firm will not be forthcoming for at least a year and possibly upwards of three. I won’t claim to be knowledgable on the subject of another nation’s footballing financial state but unlike what appears to be most English football fans, I have to admit I am intrigued as to what happens next.

I would completely understand any Glaswegian of the blue persuasion hoping and praying that the SFL allow their club into the 1st Division. This would give the crisis club the quickest route back to the top and see them going toe to toe with Celtic again. The idea of being away and therefore giving the Bhoys a free run at the title for at least three seasons must send a shiver down the spine of any supporter of the Bears. However, even a decade of uninterrupted titles would still see Celtic’s total fall short of Rangers’. The Ibrox club have time on their side and this, I believe, is important to consider when I suggest what path I’d like to see my own club take should they ever find themselves in a similar situation.

Even the most ardent Ibrox regular can hold his hands up and admit that what has gone on at Rangers over a number of years, no matter who is to blame, is wrong. The club need to be punished and are currently being hauled to Scottish Football’s Headmaster’s office and being given a relentless spanking. The biggest sanction possible from here seems to be the Scottish Third Division and it is there that I’d wish my own club to be placed.

I can almost hear the howls of derision from some Gers fans reading this but allow me to explain. Being lumped onto the bottom rung of the ladder would please a lot of supporters of Scotland’s other clubs. They would never be able to question the severity of Rangers’ punishment. The sentence would be served whilst fans of the club experience the ultimate ride and this is where the dark cloud over Ibrox would reveal an extremely narrow silver lining for the fans.

I’ve watched my own club, Manchester City, plunge down two divisions before. Ironically, it was at a third tier English League match where I met a group of Rangers fans and became good friends with them. It was a boozy day at Reading and one of my fondest memories of watching City away. I watched the Citizens from the Kop at Wrexham (I could only get a ticket for the home end) to the tiniest bank of terracing at Colchester’s Layer Road. It was a blast. As the club lurched from one crisis to another, the fans found comfort in displaying their loyalty and the darkest humour as we visited places we’d never been.

This would be the same for Rangers supporters. Forgive my ignorance if you’ve been drawn at any of these clubs in cup ties during recent years, but arriving en masse at places like Elgin, Montrose and Stranraer sounds fantastic to me. Plunge down to your lowest ebb and fight your way back, laughing along every step of the way. You’d arrive back at the top table windswept and looking like you’ve been mugged on your way to the dinner party, but hell you’d have a catalogue of anecdotes to entertain the other guests with.

Leave Celtic to fend off Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United for a few years Rangers, you’ll experience a few years that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives and wipe away any doubts over the alleged bias towards your club along the way.