Outside the Box: In Scotland it's a game of two sides and now Celtic can profit


The magnitude of Rangers' standing in football amid all their current troubles is reflected in research done by the ever-excellent sportingintelligence.com website about which clubs around the world have won the highest proportion of domestic league championships.

Rangers' total of 54 in 114 seasons gives them 47.4 per cent of Scottish titles, which is just above Linfield's 50 out of 110 in Northern Ireland but below that of Olympiakos in Greece, the only European club to have won more than 50 per cent.

The global record belongs to Al Ahly, the Egyptian club recently caught up in rioting after their game with Al Masry. They have won two-thirds of all their country's championships.

The success of their rivals Zamalek also makes Egypt the only country where the "big two" have won a higher percentage than Rangers and Celtic, who account for more than eight of every 10 titles in Scotland. The record number in a row, beating the nine achieved by both Old Firm teams, is 14 by Skonto Riga of Latvia, from 1991-2004.

Perhaps Celtic will now have ambitions of overhauling that.

Taxing times in Argentina

England is not the only country in which the tax authorities are taking a greater interest in football. Argentina's government has just passed new legislation intended to crack down on money laundering, telling clubs that they must supply details of every employee earning more than £8,800 a year as well as everyone they deal with, including sponsors and agents.

In a country where third-party ownership has been common – as Carlos Tevez well knows – the Financial Action Unit could be kept busy.

Leading downwards

Leeds United fans of a superstitious bent would doubtless have been worried about the possible appointment of caretaker manager Neil Redfearn on a permanent basis, given his unfortunate record with relegated clubs.

The Yorkshireman, who was a Leeds supporter in his boyhood, was not exactly a talisman in suffering the big drop with Barnsley, Charlton, Bolton (all from the Premier League), Halifax (to the Conference) and Lincoln City. He could have had an interesting, if doom-laden, chat last Tuesday night at Coventry City, with the home side's Hermann Hreidarsson, who is joint holder of the record for most relegations from the Premier League.

Hreidarsson shares that unwanted record of five (Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Ipswich, Charlton and Portsmouth) with Nathan Blake (Sheffield United, Bolton twice, Blackburn and Wolves). But the Icelandic defender – nicknamed the Hermannator – faces the prospect of setting a further record if Coventry lose their Championship status this season, giving him six demotions in all.

They were bottom of the table until a 2-1 win over Leeds, whose second successive defeat probably cost Redfearn any chance of a rare promotion – from temporary to permanent manager.

Bell wants to ring changes

Talking of Coventry, their right-winger (appropriately enough) David Bell surely has one of the most unusual kit sponsors anywhere; not the usual small local business or enthusiastic fan but the Campaign For A Referendum On Our Membership Of The European Union.

Where Bell is in agreement with the Prime Minister, who has so far resisted one, is in declaring as he did in last Tuesday's match programme "we're all in it together" – a reference not to the country's economic plight but to City's relegation struggle.

One Sky Blue fan's rather extreme reaction to worries about dropping down to League One for the first time in almost 50 years was to head for the South Pole. Mark Wood, 45, has just become only the eighth person to make it on his own, which took him 50 days in temperatures as low as -27C. He now plans to become the first to complete a solo double by trekking to the North Pole as well.

Burnley's headline inflation

The answer to last week's question about which footballer appeared on the front cover of the first Sunday newspaper colour supplement with model Jean Shrimpton in February 1962 was Jimmy McIlroy, the Burnley and Northern Ireland inside-forward. He was illustrating an article inside about "Britain's £100 a week footballers". (Well it did seem a lot of money at the time.)

Happily McIlroy, who was awarded the MBE last year and has a stand named after him at Turf Moor, is still going strong as the 80-year-old Burnley president.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; www.twitter.com/@stevetongue

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