Sunday 17 December 2017

Legendary Celtic captain Tom Boyd blames Rangers for the sorry state of Scottish football

FORMER treble-winning Celtic captain Tom Boyd has blamed any damage to the reputation of Scottish football solely on Rangers following their recent financial woes and subsequent drop to the Third Division.

Charles Green's newco Rangers had their application to the Scottish Premier League rejected before being admitted into the bottom tier.

The financial situation of the Ibrox club, and the way the whole affair was handled by the game's governing bodies, was played out across the globe and Boyd believes any lasting harm caused to the game should be placed firmly on Rangers' shoulders.

"If it has been damaged, it has been damaged by one club and what has gone on with them and it is the consequence of that," he said.

"It is something that has happened and we need to get on with it - Rangers are no longer in the SPL and the teams will need to adjust accordingly and then move on and try and promote the game in Scotland, and hopefully we will see a better product."

The ex-Scotland international has also urged the club's fanbase to remain firmly behind the team, with drops in attendance figures expected due to the lack of Old Firm matches on the fixture list.

The defending SPL champions are hoping to sell more season tickets before the defence of their title begins and Boyd wants the loyal fans to keep attending Celtic Park.

He said: "They are supporting Celtic, they are not supporting Rangers. That is the sole reason and we are here now to start talking up Scottish football.

"The problems at Rangers are still obviously ongoing but the most important thing for Celtic supporters is to get behind their team.

"Every supporter knows it could be a difficult season financially because of the repercussions but that was only brought on by one team.

"The supporters now have got to get behind their own teams and help promote Scottish football - it has been doom and gloom up until now and we have got to try and change the outlook of it."

The 46-year-old captained Celtic to the title in 1998, breaking Rangers' nine-year stranglehold, and he admitted the rivalry will be missed.

"You will miss them," he said. "Obviously they are the biggest games in the country, if not the UK.

"They have gone just now and will be for the foreseeable future, there will be so many other games - and hopefully we will get some Champions League football."

Boyd is hopeful the Hoops will not take their foot off the gas in the belief that they will cruise to top spot in the absence of Rangers, and that the lack of the Ibrox club will not deter other players from joining Celtic.

He said: "I had my own pride in my own performances. In every game I tried to play my best regardless.

"The differences in atmospheres can inspire certain players but I went out for a game and treated every game the same. Obviously certain games, the crown can help you.

"The club is a massive football club, it is renowned worldwide and we certainly hope that attraction is still there to sign targets.

"Obviously you have that potential of the Champions League, which is a bigger stage than Scottish football, so we have got take make sure we are there and in it to attract some quality players.

"(Celtic manager) Neil (Lennon) will want to try and add to that squad no matter what. He certainly sees areas where he thinks he can improve the team and obviously that depends on the funds available, regardless of whether they make the Champions League or not."

Boyd, who also played for Motherwell and Chelsea during his career, backed Celtic to defend their SPL crown this season - which would be their 44th top-flight title - but has dismissed the idea of the Hoops strolling to success.

He said: "You would imagine, with the squad that Celtic have at this moment in time and if they continue the form they showed last season, then yes they should go on and win the league.

"There is never a guarantee but certainly it is almost as much as because of the quality of the squad Celtic have.

"It depends on the strength of the other squads. You look at Motherwell, they did exceptionally well last season and Hearts should be back there again.

"Most clubs will be cutting their cloth accordingly but there will be an onus on these other teams now to be the team that finishes second if Celtic go on to win the league."

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