THE financial chaos engulfing Rangers FC raised the prospect last week of Scottish pubs losing one of their most lucrative income streams.
Many pubs enjoy their busiest days when matches between Rangers and Celtic are screened live on Sky. The clubs play four times a season on league business but can often meet more if drawn against each other in cup competitions – last season they clashed no fewer than seven times – generating welcome revenue for operators.
But developments at Rangers last week, which saw the club move into administration and a question mark placed over its existence, led to fears that business could be lost.
Operators told SLTN that pubs would be badly hit without the ability to show Old Firm games and the competition the clubs generate, as followers also like to watch both sides in action against other SPL teams.
“The very fact that Rangers could go out of business would make it very difficult for us all,” said Stephen McBride of the Dolphin in Partick, Glasgow, a bar favoured by Celtic fans. “If there’s no competition between Rangers and Celtic everyone suffers. If you show football, Rangers going out of business is something that all of us in the trade would be fearful of.”
And it’s not only operators in the Glasgow area who fear the effects of Rangers going bust – the pull of the Old Firm is such that pubs across Scotland could be hit.
James Cameron, owner of Grand Central in Buckie, said the loss of Old Firm games “would be devastating” for trade. “The most successful day we’ve had since we opened was the Celtic Rangers game on December 27,” he told SLTN. “The place was packed and the atmosphere was second to none.”
Not every publican looks forward to showing the games, however. Gerry McGarrigle, owner of The Woodpecker in Lanark, told SLTN via Twitter that it’s “always good to get the day over without bother”.
While Rangers’ relationship with many commercial organisations is now under scrutiny. Tennent’s said it would continue to sponsor the Ibrox side – for now at least.
“We are saddened to hear the news that Rangers has gone into administration,” it said in a statement. “We are in constant touch with Rangers Football Club during this process and will be in close contact with the club’s administrators going forward. It is our intention to continue our sponsorship and we will keep the situation under review.”