Hamilton Academicals home stadium is New Douglas Park, capacity 6000.  On Saturday afternoon they hosted the reigning Scottish champions and despite losing an early goal, they rallied to take charge of the game and deservedly scored an equaliser.  They came  close to scoring a second before losing out to a superb late goal from Kenny Miller, a player who is on fire at the moment.

Manchester United’s home stadium is Old Trafford, capacity 76,000.  On Tuesday evening they hosted the reigning Scottish champions and despite being massive favourites, failed to put the visiting team under sustained pressure and could have lost had a decent penalty shout been given against them late in the game.

Champions League?  You’re having a laugh.  On that display, Man United, you deserve to be in the SPL.  You can argue it was your Carling Cup team, but it still had players costing almost £100m.  I don’t know what Hamilton’s team cost, but their record signing was for £180k so I am guessing it’s well below below 1% of the Man U side.

Some of the fans around me bought into the pre-match hype and were thus delighted after grinding out the goalless draw at Old Trafford (I refuse to fall for their PR machine and call it the “Theatre of Dreams”).  It was a disciplined defensive performance against an uninspired home team – I’ll take the point but there’s no reason to celebrate.

On Saturday we celebrated the late winner like we’d won the league.  Late winners always do that (see Liechtenstein).  The fact that Rangers have resources way beyond the means of Hamilton is irrelevant – football is a leveller.

Back to Man United.  In the Cantona days – which were also the early days of the EPL and more importantly Sky Sports – Rangers and Manchester United were vying for the title of ‘biggest team in Britain’.  I’m prepared to believe this was all Daily Record nonsense to make Rangers fans feel good about themselves for reading the Record, but on and off the field there wasn’t that much to separate the clubs (for several years Rangers FC had the highest turnover in Britain).

Now, with almost two decades of Murdoch’s bounty behind them, Manchester United’s annual turnover is around five times that of Rangers (more if Rangers don’t qualify for the Champions League, less if they do).  There probably wasn’t a single player in Man U’s side that Rangers could afford, even ignoring the current dire financial situation on Edmiston Drive.

And to put a number on that situation: we owe something like £25m to Lloyds (the number was higher but it’s going down because of our Champions League participation).  This is less than half of our turnover, in a good year.  Manchester United owe around £700m to the Glazers – which is almost two-and-a-half times their turnover, in a good year.  So despite their massively higher income, I’d still rather be in our financial position.  The number of home fans at Old Trafford with green-and-yellow scarves makes me believe many of them feel the same way.

The English Championship suffered at the beginning of the decade when their TV contract with ITV Digitial went bust.  Clubs struggled, but adapted and moved on.

The Scottish Premier League suffered a couple of years back when the Setanta contract went out the window.  Most clubs have worked through that adjustment, with Rangers and Hearts taking longer because, well, they spent more.  But they’ll get there.

Even if Sky TV revenues continue, the English Premier League can’t go on spending like it does.  Clubs without a benefactor are massively in debt, and clubs with a benefactor won’t have them forever.   At some point the day of reckoning will come.  In the meantime, prices are being bid up so that clubs can spend almost £100m on a team that’s little better than Hamilton Accies.

Think about that, you patronising EPL bastards.

Billy

Man Utd v Rangers “Highlights”