READER REPORT:

Time for Rangers to play in England

DAVID LIM
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2013
Madjid Bougherra
JERRY LAMPEN/ Reuters
TROUBLED: Rangers FC are lacking a place in a premier competition. Pictured: Madjid Bougherra is challenged by PSV Eindhoven's Orlando Engelaar.

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There is no doubt that Rangers Football Club is one of the biggest names in football - it is by far the most successful club in Scottish football and has won far more league titles than any other club in the world.

Granted, however, the league they have been playing in is the Scottish league, which even in better times has seen Rangers still by far the best side in the land.

And right now the Scottish domestic game is in probably its least competitive and its least desirable stage, something which has resulted in Rangers FC becoming a big whale that is stuck in a lake, and ultimately with its surroundings unable to support a creature of its size, Rangers went into administration and bankruptcy last summer.

A new company was formed to take the place of the old, adopting the Rangers FC history, emblem and facilities, and the club was forced to start all over again in the Scottish Third Division.

The club has, as expected, dominated and were looking set for promotion. However, Scottish football is set for a major restructuring which may see Rangers' promotion delayed for another season.

Naturally this has infuriated Rangers officials who have threatened to leave the Scottish league to play in England.

Frankly, I think the opportunity to play in England should have been taken prior to the start of the season when the club were still essentially a brand new organization.

It is clear that the Rangers organisation has outgrown the Scottish football league and for the good of Scottish football, it needs to consider playing in the far more competitive and lucrative English league. Look at the way the success of Swansea City in the Premier League has helped invigorate Welsh football.

Look elsewhere too to the MLS where the involvement of Canadian clubs has helped to invigorate interest in the game in the USA's northern neighbour, or the A-League where the Wellington Phoenix's participation in the Australian league has really lifted football's profile in New Zealand.

Yes, UEFA has clearly reiterated that its member clubs should play in their own domestic leagues, but it has been blind to notice that Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham have played in the English league for as long as I can remember, and Liechtenstein clubs played in Switzerland. And as time continues, we are more likely to see clubs playing in other countries' leagues simply to be competitive.

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The matter is does UEFA really want the game to grow or does it just want political correctness? And what happens in the likely possibility that countries like Spain cease to exist as they do now - Catalonia has long talked about breaking away from Spain, so will UEFA punish Barcelona by forcing it to play in what will be a highly uncompetitive Catalonian league rather than keep playing in the Spanish La Liga?

The Scottish FA has done nothing but bowl bouncers and no-balls at the very identity of Rangers FC. It's time Ibrox cut its ties with this outdated organisation that has a proven track record of failure in recent times as evident by Scottish clubs' lacklustre performances in European club competitions, or the abjectness of the national squad in getting to major tournaments.

A Rangers FC playing in England could be beneficial for Scottish football in my opinion. Having the All Whites play in the Wellington Phoenix side - and of course, the All Whites coach being coach of the Phoenix side as well - has really benefited New Zealand football in general whether it's the national side or the development of the game now routed to the only professional football club in the country - look at Tyler Boyd and Louis Fenton at the Phoenix.

A Rangers side playing in the Premier League could feature the best Scottish internationals just as Swansea City features emerging Welsh players alongside the likes of Welsh internationals, Ashley Williams and until the start of the season, Joe Allen. Imagine Craig Mikhail-Smith and Kris Commons playing at Rangers against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.

The Premier League has no doubt helped boost world football's competitiveness as it has provided a lucrative arena for the world's best footballers to ply their trade. The lack of Scots in the Premier League is perhaps a sad indictment of the decline of quality of players born north of the wall since the heady days when Scots were bread and butter of English First Division sides, eg Dalglish and Souness at Liverpool, Strachan at Manchester United.

If Scottish football is to get back on its feet and not be left behind the rest of the world, it has to think forward, and the forced rebirth of its most successful club in a new country may have to be the way to go. An arena as proud as Ibrox certainly deserves Premier League football.

Rangers for English football in my opinion.


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