THERE could be few better ambassadors for Scottish football than Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool player has global star appeal, something that has helped draw curious eyes from all around the world to our game following his appointment at Rangers.

As he continues to enhance his reputation as a shrewd and inventive manager, he has always spoken warmly and with humility about Scottish football, its clubs and characters. There has never been any sign that somehow any of this is beneath a man with more than 100 England caps and a cabinet full of club honours.

So when Gerrard spoke last week about the prospect of Celtic and Rangers one day moving to England he would have done so with the best of intentions. Like a proud parent showing off about a child’s latest achievements, Gerrard was evidently eager to tell old pal Jamie Carragher about the pulling power of the Old Firm.

“The atmosphere at Celtic Park and Rangers is off the scale,” he said. “It’s a unique experience for a fan, for a player, to go and coach there.”

That’s the sort of glowing endorsement the SPFL should be lifting and plastering all over their marketing material. The league’s governing body, however, might have been less keen on Gerrard’s suggestion that Celtic and Rangers – and, let’s be honest, it would realistically only be that pair – should join the Premier League to “save and help the Scottish game a lot”.

Again, Gerrard’s intentions were no doubt good. A respected figure saying Scottish teams would make the English league better is a nice line. But it is difficult to see how losing the two biggest clubs in the country would be anything other than disastrous for the SPFL.

Granted, it would provide a level playing field for those left behind and an unprecedented chance for many to become first-time Scottish champions. But, shorn of the Old Firm challenge, any title win would surely feel like a hollow success achieved in artificial circumstances.

Clubs would suffer financially without the massive travelling support both Glasgow clubs take to away matches, broadcasters would lose interest, and sponsors would start to drift away. The SPFL would become the BDO darts of world football.

Gerrard’s comments, though, also play to the notion that our game needs saving and English football ought to be the ones to do that. But there is little evidence that that is the case.

After a period spent trying and failing to reshape our league to make it a mirror image in miniature of the English game – even renaming our four divisions with the same titles – Scottish football has belatedly found its own identity in recent seasons.

Turning our back on the English obsession with wealth, spending and being the biggest at everything, the SPFL have instead focused on talking up their own characteristics; namely being down-to-earth, genuine, accessible and in tune for the most part with the supporters.

There are enough stories to tell up here without the need to constantly be looking across the border and trying to mimic whatever is happening in the English game.

And that change in attitude is one that has been embraced by followers of Scottish football. The English and European elite will always hold an appeal but there is now also an acceptance that our game can’t compete at that level and should give up on trying to do so.

These days a sense of pride doesn’t stem from how much your club splurges on a star striker but from how many kids are making it through to the first team from the youth academy, the mostly good-natured banter between rival fans and the matchday experience of supporting your local team.

There are few pretending

the quality is as good as what is on offer down the road but there is an authenticity about Scottish football that helps sustain it. Crowds are up, interest is high and there is a constant stream of storylines, driven by figures like Gerrard who provide captivating content with their every public address.

Scottish football can’t afford to lose the Old Firm but neither does it deserve to be seen as a damsel in distress. Gerrard meant well but he was wide of the mark with this one. Our game is doing just fine as it is.


This is shaping up to be a great year for Scottish boxing. The only hope, then, is that Scottish audiences actually get to see some of it.

Josh Taylor’s decision to sign with Top Rank promotions opens doors for him in the United States. It sets up the enticing prospect of the Edinburgh fighter taking on Jose Ramirez for the chance to become undisputed super-lightweight world champion. A possible step up to face the legendary Terence Crawford could then follow. And there would be no chance of either of those contests taking place in Scotland.

Similarly, Kash Farooq is likely to spend more time boxing down south rather than in Glasgow after signing with Matchroom, while he could be joined in England by fellow bantamweight Lee McGregor as he defends his British and Commonwealth titles.

Every athlete has to do what it takes to get to the top. But boxers and their promoters should also remember the loyal fanbases that helped send them on their way and try to give something back.