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

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

at all.

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

stadium development.

Hugh R. W. Adam,


Rangers Football Club.