Steven Cohen: Celtic needs Rangers more than it thinks

Scottish football has been a joke for many years and Celtic fans better be careful what they wish for...
Celtic supporters will have been disappointed that they were not able to wrap up the Scottish Premier League on Sunday at the home of their great rivals Rangers.

But the Celtic supporters who are gleefully wringing their hands at the demise of Rangers should probably give it a second thought for a minute, especially as we hear more and more of them talk about how they do not need Rangers.

They are wrong on so many levels that it is comical.

Firstly, any serious league that is being decided by the last week of March or first week of April is in serious trouble. It doesn't matter what the reasons might be for the title being decided so early.

Secondly, believing that romping to the title every year, being crowned champions, qualifying for the qualifying stages of the Champions League only to be ceremoniously dumped out of the competition before the group stage every year brings to mind another useful expression: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Scottish football for many a year now has been a total joke. No Scottish national team has qualified for a major tournament since 1998. The numbers of good Scottish players outside of Scotland can be counted on one finger and it seems he has an incurable disease and might never play again. 

The only thing Scottish football actually has going for itself is that it has one of the fiercest rivalries in world football. So the league without one of its only two interesting combatants surely hurts that league on many levels.

Even a diminished Rangers is a major problem for the SPL.

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ESPN and Sky have signed a $120 million TV deal to air the SPL games over the next five years starting in 2012-13. One of the considerations of that deal will have been the four Old Firm Derbies every year. Without them, or without the ferocity of the competition, why should they stick around? And if they do stick around, would they not have every reestablishing  right to want to mid-table renegotiate at a far reduced cost?

Any renegotiation one would imagine could see the numbers dwindle to as low as $15 million over five years. That is not sustainable.

Additionally, take away the traveling Rangers fans from places like Dundee, Motherwell, Inverness and St. Mirren and you are talking about even more revenue taken from the league’s members.

Scottish football has been on life support for some time. Take the Old Firm battles out of the equation and the league is officially dead.

So Celtic, as you pick up the SPL trophy next week, enjoy your celebration and your title, but spare a thought for your rivals because you are linked to their fate more than you might imagine.

And maybe worse still, take Rangers out of the equation and the SPL will not even be able to compare itself to Spain’s La Liga. Wink! Wink!