McCoist playing down talk of Old Firm finale

Rangers manager argues that the Scottish game needs his team in top flight

For a moment, Ally McCoist returns to football issues. It must seem like a brief reprieve when he talks of the players who might be fit for today's Old Firm game. Soon enough, though, Rangers' financial crisis reasserts itself when he is asked about the prospect of this being the last derby meeting with Celtic. "That is the doomsday scenario," he says carefully. "We are obviously hopeful that will not be case."

This has been a bruising week for McCoist. Last Monday, the Scottish Football Association announced that they were fining Rangers £160,000 and issuing a 12-month ban on the club registering any players over the age of 18. The punishments were for failing to pay football debts, for going into administration and for bringing the game into disrepute. They also fined Craig Whyte, the owner, and banned him for life from participating in Scottish football. He responded by saying: "Tell me how it is going to affect me? I couldn't care less – and good luck collecting the money. It's a joke."

McCoist reacted by demanding to know the names of the three people who sat on the SFA's independent judicial panel, even though Rangers had been represented at the hearing. Scottish clubs had also voted unanimously last summer in favour of the governing body's streamlined disciplinary procedures, which included anonymity for those involved. Once the names began circulating on the internet, some reportedly received threats and intimidation.

McCoist condemned that behaviour, but he remains caught between the instinct to defend his club and his acceptance that sanctions are appropriate because of Rangers' financial mismanagement. "It embarrasses and upsets me we owe money to other clubs," McCoist said. "That hurts me. I don't think the punishment has helped us in any way, shape or form to recover from that."

The Scottish game is wondering how to punish Rangers – the club are also waiting to hear the verdict from a tax tribunal into their use of Employee Benefit Trusts, with HMRC having claimed £24m in unpaid tax, with interest and penalties to be added on – while keeping them in the Scottish Premier League. The Old Firm generate the vast majority of the division's revenue, and if Rangers were demoted, it would force several other clubs to the brink of administration.

"Is it good for Scottish football if Rangers or Celtic end up in the Third Division?" McCoist said. "Of course it's not. I could understand fans [of non-Old Firm clubs] saying, 'och, Third Division', because it's fair. But is it right? It's probably not. It's not a fair world."

At Celtic Park today, Rangers will be confronted by their old rivals gloating. Celtic have secured the title, although they will not receive the trophy today out of deference to the high emotions of an Old Firm encounter.

Neil Lennon will be sitting in the main stand while serving a touchline ban. He and McCoist clashed angrily at the end of an Old Firm game last season, but they have also shared, in different ways, an acknowledgement that leading either side involves dealing with non-football difficulties. "Managing the Old Firm is different," McCoist said. "But you should never lose sight of the fact we get paid to enjoy football and manage our teams."

Celtic v Rangers is on Sky Sports 4 today, kick-off 12.45pm

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us