WELL, we now know the truth.

This damnable, unruly display of democracy by the Scottish Football League clubs simply won't do. Given the political posturing and antics of the last few days, it seems every conceivable avenue might still be explored to try to prevent Rangers being consigned to the Irn-Bru Third Division, as the SFL clubs voted.

In one way, you cannot blame Stewart Regan of the Scottish Football Association or Neil Doncaster of the Scottish Premier League. Both are horrified by the idea. Both have actively campaigned against it, Regan even saying that he "cannot sit back and let it happen".

If Rangers do go down to the fourth tier then, as much as many others will approve, it will leave Regan and Doncaster looking like a pair of stooges.

And here is a further blunt truth: Celtic will sorely miss Rangers, arguably more than anyone. Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, will miss them. Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, certainly will too. A major aspect of Lennon's job is the relish that comes with facing down his Old Firm rival but, all of sudden, that rivalry is to disappear for at least three years.

Having sat and listened for years to Lennon talking about Scottish football and the Glasgow derby, my private hunch is this: he will be brassed off that Rangers are being temporarily evicted from the scene.

The Celtic supporters appear split on the issue. In cyberspace, that perennial battleground of the political point scorer, some fans of the Parkhead club are keen to assert their joy at Rangers disappearing. Wider anecdotal evidence, however, suggests many others feel deflated by what has happened.

Rightly or wrongly, the Old Firm pageant is what draws many to Celtic Park and Ibrox. Take that away and the game suddenly seems denuded of its greatest spectacle. There are quite a few Celtic fans who are already rolling their eyes at the thought of going three years without the sight of their great, detested rivals.

It might sound perverse but, with the Old Firm, hatred and desire go hand in hand. Each deplores the other, while also wanting the other. With Celtic Park season-ticket sales having fallen in recent years, quite a few fans might just have found one further reason to consider carefully whether to renew theirs or not. This Rangers saga, in particular, has been a diplomatic nightmare for Lawwell.

With zealous groups of his club's supporters baying for Rangers' blood and agitating for their destruction, Lawwell couldn't possibly be seen to be publicly lamenting Rangers' fate.

This, in part, explains why Celtic's corporate leader has been so quiet on the subject, save for anodyne public statements about "the right thing" needing to be done.

The truth is Rangers' temporary disappearance is no use to Lawwell, and he knows it. Celtic without Rangers are diminished. And it is a "bottom line" issue. More than anything – passion, hatred, point-scoring – it is rivalry that generates money, not least TV money.

Whatever else he has got wrong, Michael Kelly, the recently outspoken former Celtic director, got this right: his club will miss the Old Firm rivalry, and many supporters, like Kelly, feel heavy-hearted about a domestic fixture list with one very obvious and painful omission.

Yet the whole saga has been taken right out of Lawwell's hands, just as it almost has from those of Regan and Doncaster.

What has happened here has been a great outpouring of feeling by the wider Scottish football fan-base, and their singular message to their chairmen and the authorities has been this: whatever else you do, you cannot let Rangers off the hook for their wrongdoing.

Regan and Doncaster might be right about the economic argument, but they are sorely off the pace with the moral debate that has swept the Scottish game.

It has been an astonishing flood of integrity and an old-fashioned sense of right and wrong. Previously, Scottish football had no discernible moral compass at all, but all of a sudden there has been pushing and jostling to grab space on the moral high ground. Everyone is rushing to be the first to say: "Rangers must go to the Third Division."

If you deign to deviate from this position, as Inverness Caledonian Thistle did on Friday while questioning the economic damage to their own prospects, you face the equivalent of being tarred and feathered.

With some relish, the SPL and SFA are now jumping all over Henry McLeish's proposal, put two years back, to create a two-tier SPL. Little wonder.

In the political stampede to somehow prevent Rangers from plunging three divisions, McLeish's two-tier SPL proposal would in part save the new Ibrox club's skin.

No-one in public office at Celtic can possibly utter anything that in any way sounds either soft or vacillating towards Rangers. But Celtic hearts and minds are split on the issue. And the club's more discerning supporters will be wary of this pending Old Firm divorce.