Our Friends In The North

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.

Fancy popping north of the border to see Wrexham playing one of the biggest clubs in Europe in the league? You might get the chance to do just that if Rangers get their way. It might result in them becoming our most exotic league opponents…or could tear our world apart.

It’s usually wise to ignore the angry noises that come out of Glasgow’s two massive football clubs. Constantly disaffected by their lot, complaining about being forced to play with the other Scottish clubs, they seem to be driven by hatred, especially the very particular form of spite that exists between them.

But their enmity is threatening to encroach onto our patch. After their demotion to the fourth rung Rangers have plenty of fuel to fire their righteous indignation, and reforms to the Scottish League system have provoked the latest in a regular serious of outbursts.

Rangers Chief Executive Charles Green claims the changes to the Scottish league system would be to the detriment of his club. In fact, they would actually make no difference whatsoever to their circumstances: if the reforms come into being Rangers would be in the third tier next season, as they would be if there was no change and they got promoted in May.

However, Green is not interested in logic, but in arguing that Rangers should be allowed to leave the Scottish game altogether. In making his case Green trains his eye on what he sees as the anomalous situation of the Welsh teams in the English pyramid. He argues that if Rangers are refused entry to the English game, then Swansea and Cardiff should be booted out. If he’d done his research into the little people he’d know he was also advocated the same for Wrexham, Newport and Colwyn Bay, but then caring about the small clubs was never his thing.

It’s a tiresome argument, which ignores the fact that we’ve all been in the English system since our inception as there was no Welsh counterpart until the creation of the League of Wales in 1992. Let’s hope Rangers and Celtic’s sordid pursuit of a total rejection of the basis on which club football has been run since it began doesn’t have a catastrophic effect on us. It seems unlikely, but Green is talking about cynically exploiting the European anti-discrimination legislation to get his way. Make no mistake: they’ll do anything to get what they want.

There’s another way in which Green’s latest outburst could impact on us. If he gets his way and joins the pyramid, he claims he’s willing to start at the bottom, and in his view of the world that would be the Blue Square Bet Premier. It’s an argument the Conference seem willing to contemplate.

This creates the delicious possibility of the F.A. accepting Rangers but making them play in the eighth level. As there’d be no geographical reason to put them in any of the existing leagues, I’d suggest the Isthmian League One, with enticing derbies against Potters Bar Town and Maldon and Tiptree.

As I said, we might be making an intriguing exotic away trip before too long.

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