Peter Lawwell and the “Celtic miss Rangers” narrative   

Sunday 31 August, 2014

A narrative is doing the rounds of Scotland’s media outlets which suggests that the Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has said his club “needs” Rangers in the top-flight of Scottish football.

This is untrue.

The assertion is based on a series of one-to-one interviews given by Lawwell to television, radio, newspapers and online outlets last week.

So far, what Lawwell has actually said is that Rangers’ absence has brought about a significant reduction in income – not just for Celtic, but for other Scottish clubs – although, he stresses that Celtic have suffered more than any other club, financially speaking.

The actual narrative of Lawwell’s statements are less about Celtic “missing” or “needing” Rangers in the top-flight, and are more about the historical financial mis-management at Ibrox, which brought about the subsequent liquidation of the club and it being forced to reform in the lowest division of Scottish football – the net effect of which has been a dent in the overall finances of clubs around the country.

However, this is not the narrative that is being adopted by Scotland’s sporting journalists.

Here’s a snapshot of the responses Lawwell has given:

“Rangers going has taken millions out the game. We have probably lost more than anyone. We have bridged that gap by selling players and making profits and we’ve kept Scottish football at a level more than any other club and I think we don’t get enough credit for that.” (BBC)

“When Rangers went down we took £100 off the season tickets. So that is £4m for two years. The Rangers games, that is at least another £3m. The fact there is a perception among our supporters that there is no competition and you are going to win anyway, and you don’t go to the game, so it could be £10m. We could have lost £10m a year, quite easily, on the back of Rangers going down.” (Herald)

“The lost money which Rangers, and now Hearts and Hibs, have taken out of the game, has been made up from profit from selling players. Our revenues have stayed the same from selling players to make up for those lost millions.But when Rangers went down we took £100 off season tickets. So that is £4m for two years. The Rangers games, at least another £3m.” (Daily Record)

By and large, the media has reported with headlines along the lines of ‘Revealed: Rangers’ troubles have cost Celtic £10m a year, reveals Parkhead chief exec Peter Lawwell‘, ‘Peter Lawwell admits Rangers’ absence from top-flight has left Celtic with a £10m black hole‘, but the broader narrative being expounded on programmes such as the BBC’s Sportsound, Clyde’s Super Scoreboard and by journalists like Tom English and Graham Spiers on Twitter is the nascent view that Scottish football is dying a slow, painful fiscal death due to the absence of, effectively, its most financially reckless club.

The Monkey finds it odd that journalists are bleating on about one club (which has managed its finances quite frugally over the past 25 years or so) requiring some form of monetary support from an outfit that has systematically, repeatedly and shamefully mis-managed its finances during the same period to the point of oblivion.

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