AFTER several years in the wilderness battling financial difficulties, Glasgow Rangers, part of the famous ‘Old Firm duo”, have finally been promoted back to the Scottish Premiership, where they will resume their antagonistic rivalry with Glasgow Celtic. Incidentally, the pair have drawn each other in this year’s Scottish cup semi-final, which will be played this Sunday, the 17th April.
Glasgow Rangers’ promotion to the top flight has long been seen as a fair accompli, as David Weir and Mark Warbution’s side, with 20 goals from ex Leicester player Martyn Waghorn, as well as 13 from Rangers legend Kenny Miller. Indeed, added to this was players who have a wealth of experience, including Dean Shiels, David Templeton, and the exciting Arsenal winger Gedion Zelalem, it always seemed likely that this would happen. Although that should not take away the achievement produced by this footballing side.
The 1-0 victory over Dumbarton, saw the club finally surmount enough points to promote, ahead of second place Falkirk. Although the last few games have not been straight-forward, having drawn 3-3 away to Raith Rovers in their last encounter, which took place after a thrilling 4-3 victory against Queen of the South, which was after Rangers lost to the aforementioned Falkirk. Despite this, Rangers had been comfortable for much of the season. After losing to Falkirk in November, the side went on an 11 league unbeaten run, and only lost one other match in the league during this campaign, against Hibernian.
Although Rangers have, this season, seamlessly promoted, their journey from the fourth division back to the very top, has not always been positive. Indeed, last year, the side lost in the play-off final to Motherwell, and so had to wait an extra year to promote to the top division. With Celtic – after Aberdeen’s defeat – increasingly likely to be the champions once more, it seems that Ranger’s promotion would make the title race more competitive, especially since Celtic have won every league title since their demise.
Rangers’ promotion, then, comes at a good time, since Scottish football has not had the best of few years. Indeed, Scotland were the only Home Nation not to qualify for this summer’s European Championships, and so have not made a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, also in France. There is also, the context of poor European performances from the best Scottish sides. Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League in the play-off round this season, losing to Malmo, which is exactly what happened last season, as they lost in the same round to Maribor. With Aberdeen, Inverness and St Johnstone all failing to pass the play-off rounds in the Europa League this season, it seems that the standard of Scottish football is slowly deteriorating.
Which is one of the numerous reasons as to why Rangers’ promotion to the big time is a good thing. Rangers may be able to make the title race more competitive, which should make Celtic better. Regardless of where they finish though, the Old Firm is a terrific rivalry and always worth a watch. This Sunday will be no different, and next season, should, in theory, start to bring back more watchers to the Scottish league, although one will be hoping that the two rival fans of the Old Firm will not cross the line, as they have done in times gone by, because apart from that, it is a fascinating rivalry.
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