December 30. John Maguire's assessment of the relative strengths of
Rangers and Celtic pools, reported by Keith Sinclair (December 28), is
literally true more or less, but anyone with an understanding of both
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organisations will know that it was, to say the least, an unfortunate
misrepresentation of the situation.
For almost all of the seventies and the first part of the eighties,
Rangers Pools operated under the 1971 Pool Competitions Act, the most
important feature of which was that it set no limits on prize money. The
Ibrox organisation was able to exploit that to the full by building a
national rather than a club pool.
Celtic, for a number of reasons, was nothing like as successful, and
its turnover was eventually only about one-eighth of its Glasgow
neighbour, so low in fact that the operation could be accommodated as a
small lottery within the 1976 Lotteries and Amusements Act, with no
requirement to pay betting duty.
During this period Rangers FC Development Fund Ltd, which is the
parent company of the pool, was able among other things to fund the
erection of the Copland, Broomloan, and Govan stands. It is estimated
that the same undertaking today could cost around #35m, and that is the
measure of the head start Rangers had over its nearest rival.
It will be obvious, therefore, that the repeal of the 1971 Act in 1985
was a major catastrophe for Rangers Pools. Apart from the fact that
turnover would be severely limited by law, weekly first prizes of
#30,000 plus would drop overnight to #2000. What was formerly a national
pool now had to join Celtic and others in a much more limited setup.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the gap between the two
organisations has narrowed so much. Indeed, in view of the new
circumstances, Celtic may wish to ask itself why there should be any gap
Nevertheless, Mr Maguire and his predecessor Alan Austin are due much
credit for developing such a profitable business, particularly during a
period when lottery income has been falling sharply elsewhere. In a
football age when talkers seem to be proliferating by the minute, and
actual fund-raisers are becoming thinner on the ground, John Maguire has
no case to answer, but Professor Carbery on the other hand appears to
have the curious habit, for an academic, of reaching conclusions without
reference to the basic facts.
For a long time lotteries were by far the biggest source of
off-the-field income for most football clubs, and in the exceptional
case of Rangers Pools a much bigger source than the annual total taken
through the gate. This is no longer the case. They will still make an
important contribution, of course, and a contribution at that which does
not depend on the success of the team, but major football clubs will now
have to look to other methods of raising money to satisfy the growing
demands of the game.
Sponsorship, deals with kit manufacturers, debenture schemes, in-house
catering, club publications, retailing, trackside advertising, corporate
hospitality, etc., have all got to be tackled singly and professionally.
There will also be an urgent need for innovative enterprises. If these
things are not done, and successfully done, no lending institution will
enter into serious discussions about committing huge capital sums for
Hugh R. W. Adam,
Rangers Football Club.