Clubs once coveted the financial bounty of facing the Ibrox side, or Celtic, because the sums involved can be significant. That aspect remains unaltered by Rangers' place in the third division, but intrigue now comes as part of the package.
Celtic were the first club to be drawn yesterday as the Scottish Communities League Cup third-round ties were decided. The pause before Raith Rovers were revealed to be their opponents was heavy with expectation. An Old Firm game would have been particularly alluring, since the old rivalry will not have been finished by the change in Rangers' circumstances, and this was the first occasion when they might have been scheduled to meet each other competitively. "It would have been nice but it didn't happen. Maybe next time," said Joe Ledley, the Celtic midfielder.
Part of the curiosity is how the Rangers team will fare against top-flight opponents, having been drawn at home to Motherwell. Ally McCoist sought to sign players with that kind of fixture in mind, and Ian Black, Dean Shiels and David Templeton are proven SPL players. He was frustrated by the extent of his team's business, though, since he wanted to add more players than the club managed before the end of the transfer window.
Rangers were the third team to be drawn and because they were unseeded, an opponent from the top flight was guaranteed. Motherwell landed the tie and will travel to Glasgow on September 25 or 26. Scottish football is still adjusting to the particulars of Rangers new situation.
The third division side would, for instance, often prefer playing away, since gate receipts are shared. Yet it is the Rangers support that is so vast that Motherwell will benefit. The SPL side should, also, consider itself favourites, but even though Rangers lost a number of leading players during the summer, including captain Carlos Bocanegra in the final hours of the transfer window, the starting line-up can still be formidable.
"We definitely could have had an easier draw," said Simon Ramsden, the Motherwell defender. "But, while we know we're in for a test, we're going there as the Premier League side – and going to get a result.
"It is important to recognise how much has changed. With the history of Rangers, the size of the club, the crowd, people will look at that. But we feel that our starting XI is just as strong as, if not better than, anything Rangers have got. So there's no reason we shouldn't go there and put in a good account."
Rangers, too, are likely to relish the opportunity to face a team from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. Resources are diminished, but the club still considers itself part of the elite, even if it is currently far removed from there. Several members of the side would, certainly, be coveted by every leading top-flight team.
"If you look at our squad we've got some of the best players in Scotland so I don't see why we can't do well," said Kane Hemmings, the young Rangers striker. "Regardless of who we got, we'd have gone into the tie thinking we can win."
Supporters will view the game with a harder edge, since tensions were raised during the months of uncertainty following administration last season. Some Rangers fans would like to see Motherwell earn as little as possible from the tie, while some away supporters might consider a boycott. The posturing seems futile and self-defeating when the purpose of being a fan is to support your own team.
An Old Firm tie would have generated wider appeal, but yesterday's draw still carried enough potential for drama.
Dundee United must travel to face Queen of the South, who knocked Hibernian out of the competition in the last round, while Aberdeen's visit to Dunfermline Athletic pits Craig Brown and Jim Jefferies, two venerable managers, against each other. Celtic's tie with Raith Rovers pulls the mind back to the Kirkcaldy club's famous victory over the Parkhead side in the 1994 League Cup final. The current generation of players have more individual priorities, though.
"I haven't won [the League Cup] yet so we want to do it this year and win everything," said Ledley. "That is our aim."
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