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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home