It was 20 years ago yesterday that Sir David Murray bought Rangers for £6m and he used the anniversary to reiterate that he wants to get out. He also explained why, despite being one of the richest men in Scotland, with a fortune estimated at £720m and a business empire with a similar annual turnover, his pockets are no longer deep enough for Rangers to be truly competitive in this modern football lark. Not at any level above the domestic, that is. Murray's achievements as chairman and owner are not in doubt. Rangers have won 31 trophies in two decades, modernised Ibrox, built a £14m training base (Murray Park), and, last season, had a club record income of £64.5m, and profits of £8m.
Murray's arrival in 1988 coincided with the start of the "nine in a row" years. The early part of his reign included the landmark signing of Mo Johnston, a Catholic. And while Scottish society, and football, is still blighted by sectarianism, Murray's Rangers continue to make efforts to fight it.
In pure football terms, Rangers and their Old Firm rivals Celtic are less likely now than ever to see their duopoly in Scottish football seriously threatened. Aberdeen were the last non-Old Firm side to win the title, in 1985, and on Saturday's evidence it will be another 23 years at least before they do it again. Rangers' win was par for the course. Aberdeen have not won at Ibrox for 17 years, and even though Rangers were depleted and sluggish, Jean-Claude Darcheville and Kris Boyd's scrappy second-half goals led to an ultimately comfortable victory.
That means Rangers stay just four points off the pace in the slipstream of Celtic, who won 3-1 at St Mirren and who could yet be distracted for a while in Europe, with a Champions League fixture in Aalborg tomorrow.
Yet what real hope do either Old Firm side have of making any impact at the business end of the Champions League? As things stand financially, none. Of his own club, Murray says: "If you ran Rangers as a business without a benefactor, you would have to downsize by up to 25 per cent."
He adds that "this has not been a good financial year for Rangers," and asserts, with broad accuracy, that "there's not much between Rangers and Celtic. They beat us, we beat them. We've both got a lot of £2m-£4m players, so there's little to choose between the squads." He says that will only change, for either club, if someone invested "serious money". Murray came within minutes of selling out last year but pulled out of a deal with an unnamed British buyer because of concerns about the incomer's intentions. No other serious interest has been expressed since so for now Rangers will remain Murray's, and a big fish in a small pond, but no more.
Goals: Darcheville (52) 1-0; Boyd (68) 2-0.
Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, McCulloch, Whittaker; Mendes, Ferguson, Adam; Darcheville (Novo, 78), Boyd (Beasley, 68), Lafferty. Substitutes not used: Alexander (gk), Edu, Dailly, Niguez, Kinniburgh.
Aberdeen (4-4-2): Langfield; Mair (Foster, 71), Diamond, Severin, Considine; Young (Maguire, 71), McDonald, Kerr, Mulgrew; Miller, Aluko. Substitutes not used: Bateman (gk), Hodgkiss, De Visscher, Stewart, Paton.
Referee: C Thomson.
Booked: Rangers Broadfoot; Aberdeen Diamond.
Man of the match: Aluko.
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