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Are Rangers’ board to blame for Old Firm disaster?

It is with heavy heart that we must announce that it has become necessary to write this article.

Rangers v Celtic - William Hill Scottish Cup Semi Final Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

There are a few reasons why we didn’t want to write this article, answering the question in the headline. The first is that we hoped it would be plainly untrue, and that aside from a few bams on Twitter, nobody would be levelling the finger at Paul Murray and Dave King, or expecting John Gilligan to improve our set-piece defending. The second is that we far prefer to write about actual football, and whenever you get into tedium like this and have to say "actually, it works on amortisation of..." you sound like a wee neek. Thirdly, of course, we’d rather just write "naw they’re no ya rocket" and get on with our day.

It did appear to be the aforementioned bams at first, but then this appeared by Keith Jackson. Now, we’re not one for relentless targeting of journalists - plenty of others do it well, and we’d rather just put out our own alternative, on here, and let the writing speak for itself. For you, the fans, out there on the mean streets. That’s why we’re here. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself. Jackson’s above missive featured the following lines:

"Dave King might have talked about ‘over investing’ but the truth of the matter is while Rodgers splashed almost £5million on Scott Sinclair at the start of the season, Warburton has built an entire squad for half that amount.

And with no sign of his chairman suddenly discovering his charitable side, Warburton is staring ahead at a long, uncertain season. One littered with question marks."

Oh, and Jackson wasn’t alone, either. Here’s Andy Walker, for Sky:

"Rangers chairman Dave King promised an investment of between £30m and £50m when he was attempting to gain control of the then Championship club in 2015 but with the summer transfer window long gone, he has not provided any significant sum to date."

Now, it would be possible to say that Rangers have spent only around the £2 million mark this summer, the bulk on Joe Garner plus a few development fees for Jordan Rossiter, Josh Windass and Matt Crooks, while Celtic have spent far more. It’s a good point. Well, until the bit where you remember that footballers don’t all play for free, at which point it falls down somewhat.

To be honest, we could leave it at that, as clearly the wage bill has taken a colossal leap. We’ve all played Football Manager, and while Mr Warburton probably doesn’t have a slider to adjust money for wages to transfer fees, that’s a lot closer to reality than Jackson’s ‘everything but transfer fees is Monopoly money’ notion.

Clouding it is, of course, the fact that nobody really has much of an idea what wages anybody’s on. But let’s use an example. Clubs actually determine their spend by the amount the player will cost over the contract - in other words, all of their wages plus the transfer fee, spread out over however long they signed a deal for. Let’s use the example of Joey Barton. £20,000-a-week wages have been reported. We can’t say how accurate that is, but let’s assume it’s on the money. With no transfer fee and a two-year deal, that amounts to north of £1 million. Other players will be on lower wages, but longer deals. It’s a sensible way of working things out - all money is considered equal and you can use it for contract extensions too (which, by the way, we did with James Tavernier and the managerial staff as well, which won’t have been cheap.)

So, how much have we spent? Well, nobody has a clue, because nobody knows the wages. But since all players do actually earn wages, it’s probably quite a lot. To say nothing of any other work being done behind the scenes and on Ibrox. We’ve certainly increased our spend by a far higher percentage than Celtic have this summer. The idea of Rangers floundering while Dave King struggles with short arms and long pockets, and Brendan Rodgers is bankrolled to allow Celtic to storm into the distance is, simply, not true. We lost because we’re shite at defending, because Warburton picked the wrong team, and arguably because the transfer strategy was poor. They might have more money than us, but to suggest we’ve been penny-pinching or not spending is, simply, wrong. Warburton has been backed to the hilt in the transfer window. If it doesn’t work out (and it still might), then he will have himself to blame.