TheY say football is a funny old game, but nowhere does it appear stranger than in the financial positions of Rangers and Celtic.

Despite playing three divisions below their Glasgow rivals, and doing without big-money European football, Rangers have been scoring well on the stock market.

A season ago Ally McCoist's side suffered the ignominy of relegation from the Scottish Premier League to the third division after the oldco Ibrox club was placed into liquidation.

But despite smaller crowds at smaller grounds for away matches, and being out of Europe, Rangers shares ended the football season less than 2p below those of Premier League winners Celtic.

Hoops shares closed at 58.12p on Friday while the Ibrox club's shares were at 56.5p at the end of the season.

However, the story of the Rangers shares is more complex than that simple comparison shows. When Rangers International Football Club floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) at 70p a share in December, the business was valued at £45.6m. The stock hit a high of 94p by January 2 before a steady slide.

It ended April at 58p, just days before the club lifted the Scottish Football League Division Three championship trophy.

It is almost 20% below the original price. Given the firm raised £22m on its initial offering and says it still has much of that in the bank, it seems a big dip in fortunes, though boardroom upheaval is unlikely to have helped.

The escalation of boardroom tensions in recent weeks has not yet led to the share price falling significantly further. An investigation into alleged links between Charles Green and Craig Whyte was announced in April.

David Bick, chairman of City firm Square1 Consulting, said: "An unsettled board always unsettles investors and there are still obviously boardroom issues. [Rangers] still appears a good investment, which should in theory keep getting better, but you won't see that reflected in the share price until these issues are resolved. "

Meanwhile, Celtic's share price has almost doubled over a season during which they qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, and won both the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Cup.

On August 3, the day before the SPL kicked off, the share price was 33.2p. Celtic's stock kept creeping up, reaching 66.5p on January 10 but falling back to 55.15p by the end of that month.

So since Rangers floated on AIM Celtic's share price has risen almost 32%. The Parkhead club has seen a 75% rise over the football season.

Investors clearly see medium-term value in Celtic as it is expected to dominate the Scottish game for several years and has a good record for selling on players.

Mr Bick, a public relations and takeover adviser with 30 years' experience, said: "If investors believe the Old Firm will get back together again then you are talking about substantially higher revenues, although that is still at least two years away."

At Rangers, investors have been attracted by a debt-free business with regular income from a large fan-base, supplemented by sales in new markets.

But the club has to deliver a swift return to the top tier in Scotland and get back into European competition as soon as possible to keep attracting supporters, sponsors and business partners.

Michael Jarman, equity strategist at H2o Markets, said: "I would be shocked if the club does not achieve back-to-back promotion.

"If the earnings they have projected to earn can match the performance on the pitch then the stock could be valued right back up at 90p."