Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Rangers

In the United States, owning a sports franchise seems to be as sure a thing as owning a liquor store, only with revenues at least a couple of orders magnitude larger, and less chance of being robbed at gunpoint. Cities and states with more urgent needs will tax themselves to subsidize your stadium or arena, and if one refuses another will be ready. The rules are such that it is always a surprise when an ownership group, recently for example the McCourt family in Los Angeles, manages to run a franchise into the ground.

The most recent past owner of the Glasgow Rangers football club managed to do just that, as The New York Times reported last week. It was the team of Protestant Glasgow, rival of the Celtic, team of the Irish Catholic immigrants, a matter touched on in Seamus Heaney's "Whatever You Say Say Nothing":
As the man said when Celtic won, 'The Pope of Rome
's a happy man this night.' ...
Yet according to the Times, the old barriers are breaking down, and of the boys in a Catholic school perhaps 5% may be Rangers supporters--though I wonder how boldly they dare affirm this.

In any case, Rangers are threatened with relegation to a lower level of professional soccer, as if the New York Yankees were to be bumped down to Class AA minor league baseball. This is unlikely to do their traditional rivals, the Celtic included, any good, for the Rangers are a great draw for tickets and for broadcast money. Red Sox Nation might get a kick out of seeing the Yankees playing AA ball, but Red Sox management would experience it as a financial disaster.

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