WHEN it became apparent that Rangers were not going to be able to catch Celtic in the cinch Premiership towards the tail end of last season, it was not the manager in the dugout nor the players on the pitch who supporters turned on.

Michael Beale, Allan McGregor, James Tavernier, Ben Davies, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos were by no means immune from criticism as the Ibrox club finished a wretched 2023/24 campaign trophyless.

But it was managing director Stewart Robertson and director of football Ross Wilson who bore the brunt of the abuse from the fans in the stands. It was little surprise when it was announced that, after weeks of highly personal attacks, both men would be departing.

If Rangers perform as poorly at home and abroad in the coming months as they did last term and Celtic manage to maintain their domestic dominance, the occupants of the directors’ box are sure to come in for the same sort of treatment.

READ MORERangers complete signing of Cyriel Dessers from Cremonese

Nobody, though, will be able to accuse the current custodians of the Govan giants of failing to invest in success. They have spent significant sums strengthening their squad this summer. No fewer than six players have already arrived and more new recruits are likely to join them in the coming days.

The capture of Cyriel Dessers from Cremonese in Italy this week certainly underlined that they are serious about reclaiming the Scottish title and doing well in Europe in the new term; the Nigerian striker set them back a cool £4.5m.

Now, the sum Rangers paid to land Dessers, a 6ft 1in, 28-year-old, four-times capped forward who has previously had spells with Genk in Belgium and Utrecht and Feyenoord in the Netherlands, is next to nothing in the modern game. However, it is certainly a significant outlay for them.

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They have only splashed out more on a footballer on one occasion - when they bought Ryan Kent from Liverpool for £6m in 2019 - in the past 20 years.

Acres of newsprint and hours of air time are devoted every year to debating why one team is in the ascendency and dissecting why another side is toiling. But invariably the outcome of the league and cup competitions in this country boil down to who has spent more in the transfer market.

Many of the players who Celtic fielded as they completed a world record eighth treble last term were acquired for nominal fees; Joe Hart (£1m), Sead Haksabanovic (£1.7m), Reo Hatate (£1.4m), Oh Hyeon-gyu (£2.5m), Josip Juranovic (£2.5m), Daizen Maeda (£1.5m), Aaron Mooy (free), Matt O’Riley (£1.5m) and Greg Taylor (£2.2m) hardly broke the bank.

But shrewd deals and Bosman buys will only get you so far. Alistair Johnston (£3.5m), Cameron Carter-Vickers (£6m), Carl Starfelt (£4m), Liel Abada (£3.5m), Jota (£6.5m) and Kyogo Furuhashi (£4.5m) gave Ange Postecoglou’s team a vital edge over their city rivals.

READ MORECeltic issue positive financial update to London Stock Exchange

Rangers spent £40m less on players than Celtic did during the three-and-a-half years the much-maligned Wilson was in situ. Is it really any wonder they only picked up two trophies during that spell as their age-old adversaries lifted eight?

So will their increased investment lead to the balance of power in Scottish football shifting in the 2023/24 season? To date, the defending champions have only brought in Tomoki Iwata (£850,000), Odin Thiago Holm (£2.5m) and Marco Tilio (£1.5m). And their opening Premiership fixture against Ross County is just weeks away.  

Beale, who landed Todd Cantwell and Nico Raskin in January, has seen Jack Butland, Dessers, Kieran Dowell, Sam Lammers, Abdallah Sima and Dujon Sterling all rock up at Auchenhowie for pre-season training. He has quality options in every area. Advantage Rangers?

The statement that Celtic issued to the London Stock Exchange on Thursday – which emphasised they had enjoyed “a successful year in generating gains from player trading” - should have set alarm bells ringing across the River Clyde and indicated what is to come.

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"As a result of such gains, Celtic now expects earnings for the year ended June 30, 2023, will be significantly higher than previous expectations,” the missive continued.

The Parkhead outfit continue, due to their long-standing business model and prudent stewardship, to operate at a far higher level off the park as well as on it. In the past two windows, Christopher Jullien (£850,000), Giorgos Giakoumakis (£4.3m), Juranovic (£7.5m) and Jota (£25m) have banked them nearly £38m.

In the corresponding period, a total of eight players have left Rangers. But the lesser spotted Mateusz Zukowski, who joined Slask Wroclaw in his native Poland for an undisclosed amount, was the only one they received anything for. That is likely to be reflected on the park going forward.

READ MORERangers start pre-season with 0-0 draw against Livingston

Mooy, who has retired, and Jota are certainly big losses for Celtic. But Brendan Rodgers, who only returned to the East End last month, will replace them and add others. He received assurances about the funds which would be made available to him from major shareholder Dermot Desmond when he agreed to come back. Talk about the Scottish transfer record being broken abounds.

Hopes will be high, expectations great and excitement palpable when Rangers launch their title challenge with a game against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on August 5. But they will be 1-0 down before kick-off once again due to the superior resources Celtic have at their disposal.