ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Celtic FC
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Celtic FC
Posted by Andy Muirhead on 07/28/2012

This summer saw football fans across Scotland rise up and force not only their clubs, but also the governing bodies into an action that they did not want to take - send the Rangers newco into the Third Division.

The SPL and the SFA wanted to keep a tight grip of their unsigned £80 million TV deal, why it was left unsigned is a mystery, but when Neil Doncaster was in control of things one could start to look in that direction.

With Rangers now plying their trade in the fourth tier of Scottish football, Celtic in my opinion will have a free run to the title this coming season.

Of course Celtic will face hurdles and will in all likelihood lose the odd few games - I cannot see them going through the season unbeaten - but the other teams in the league will, as per usual, challenge Celtic until December or January time before falling by the wayside, left to challenge for the European spots.

With a new sense of importance, the fans will become an integral part of the coming season and the clubs must continue to listen to their fan base if they are to ride out the alleged apocalypse that Scottish football is set to face because of the Rangers1872 demise.

Already we have seen fans across the country - except for the Rangers fans - link up and buy tickets, donate and even sponsor other club games, players and funds. For the first time Scottish football is united in one goal: to keep Scottish football alive - despite what the papers and bureaucrats at Hampden say.

Jock Stein's famous words that 'football without fans is nothing' is so true. Just take a look at what Kilmarnock are having to do this weekend. Players, and even Kenny Shiels, are calling up fans or turning up in pubs to tout season tickets to their Kilmarnock brethren, why? Because Michael Johnston failed to listen to his fan base when he abstained from the Rangers newco into the SPL vote. Killie fans have not taken up the season ticket allocation as quickly or as en masse as other clubs have for a variety of reasons - the major one purported to be that they have no confidence in chairman Michael Johnston - a man who is overseeing a reported £11 million debt at the Rugby Park side.

If any club is going to go belly-up then Kilmarnock could almost certainly be the first to go to the wall. Not because of their fans but because of the financial issues, and relying on revenue from Celtic and Rangers fans over the years.

And in my opinion any club that runs their club outside their own means and is reliant on the money generated solely from other clubs deserve not to be in the game. It's a harsh statement on the fans that are innocent in all of this, but if it rids their club of the stuffed shirts and allows the supporters to take control then so be it.

Season 2012-13 will certainly be an interesting one. The title challenge may be a foregone conclusion and predictable, but the places below that will be where the real battles are and where anyone can secure European football or the wooden spoon that no one wants.

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