Collaborative Post

Will the Old Firm duopoly ever be broken up in Scottish football?


Celtic and Rangers combined have won 104 Scottish top-flight football titles. It is a remarkable number that is reaffirmed by the fact that a mere 19 title trophies have gone to other clubs since 1882.

It has been over 30 years season a team outside of Celtic and Rangers lifted the league title. That feat was achieved by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen. Scottish football fans are once again watching a two-team title fight between Celtic and Rangers. Supporters can use this welcome offer to wager on the team they believe will lift this season’s championship. 

Image: Vienna Reyes on Unsplash

A two-horse race

This season’s title race is tight between Celtic and Rangers, yet Aberdeen is nine points back as of this writing and are looking unlikely of making a charge to get any closer. With another title set to go to the Old Firm, is there a chance that their duopoly in Scottish football will be broken up?

Even when Rangers were relegated from the Scottish Premiership, no other club was able to fill the gap and challenge Celtic for the title. After Rangers’ relegation, both Motherwell and Aberdeen put up a small title fight.

Small is the operative word as neither Motherwell nor Aberdeen came within 10 points of Celtic in the final league table in each of those seasons. 

So, how can teams break up the Old Firm? Coaching and scouting of players on a small budget has not shown to be capable of improving teams enough to end Celtic’s and Rangers’ title-winning ways. The only way that the duopoly can be broken up is by large-scale investment into a Scottish club.

Football pitch
Image: Tim Bechervaise on Unsplash

Investment in Scottish football

The problem with large-scale investment into one club is the potential issues with Financial Fair Play. Although there could be FFP ramifications with investment into Scottish football, an influx of new money to teams outside of the Old Firm could potentially make the Premiership more competitive. 

Over the summer, Scottish League One club Falkirk was courted by multi-millionaire businessman Mark Campbell. The businessman’s attempts to buy the Bairns fell through in November as three months of discussions were ended. Fans had raised concerns over Campbell owning the club, but that often occurs when a club with older supporters are presented with the possibility of receiving new money investments.

Dundee United were taken over by American businessman Mark Ogren in 2018. After purchasing the club, Ogren wiped out Dundee United’s debt, upgraded parts of Tannadice Stadium, and improved the first-team.

Dundee United are top of the Scottish Championship currently and look good to reach the Premiership. If Ogren makes further investments. The club could be fighting for a league title in a few seasons. At least that is the hope from fans and those wanting to see the Old Firm’s dominance come to an end.

Would an end to the Old Firm kill Scottish football? On the contrary, Scottish football and the excitement around it, would most likely increase. It could also see interest in clubs outside the Old Firm grow thus helping others make revenue in Scottish football. 

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