29 July | 13:26:32
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The British aren't coming
With heavy legal distractions, the Old Firm may have less cause for optimism about its planned abroad fixtures
Stuart Allan
Wednesday, 30 November, 2011 | 12:00

With the impending case with Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) drawing uncomfortably near for Rangers Football Club, the club appear to be pulling out all the stops to make a quick buck.

The Scottish Premier League champions, in their absence of European football, have played glamour friendlies with Liverpool and Hamburg this season and recently attempted to break into the lucrative Indian market.

The club invited two of the Blue Tigers’ top stars to train at Murray Park, before providing live Hindi text commentary to their home game against St Johnstone.

Of course, any cash-mongering scheme would not be complete without the obligatory dusting off of that oldest of old chestnuts – the idea that, somehow, some way, Rangers and Celtic could play in the English Premier League. 

But Ibrox's chief operating officer Ali Russell went into relatively unmarked territory last week when he endorsed the exportation of the Old Firm derby to foreign soil.

The Old Firm go stateside! So just what would such a game offer? An overblown, over budget Hollywood reimagining of the original fixture – and, like all garish Hollywood remakes, it wouldn’t be half as good as the real thing.

The truth is the Old Firm derby is so uniquely embedded in Glasgow culture that it could not possibly be replicated to the same effect anywhere in the world. The sheer hatred the sets of supporters have for one another, whether the clubs would admit it or not, is its selling point.

If Russell thinks that atmosphere can be recreated by the suburban masses in California, or in the scorching heat of an oil-rich Middle Eastern state, then he’s not only wrong, but he insults the fixture. To play it abroad would automatically devalue the occasion.

The Old Firm abroad can’t work, won’t work, and here’s another reason. No one in their right mind would invite the Old Firm to their city – just ask Manchester.
Because the Old Firm game is exactly the kind of occasion that attracts a brand of rent-a-mob fanaticism that any police force in the world would rather avoid.

The fixture is screened in over 40 countries across the globe, not because it’s a feast of glorious attacking football, which it is not, but because it’s a guilty pleasure.

For the neutral, the Old Firm game is akin to watching an episode of Jersey Shore – enjoying the sleaze of the show is one thing, but inviting the cast and crew on to your doorstep is quite another.

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