Glasgow is a deeply divided city, riven in religious bigotry. That’s hardly breaking news, but every so often the deeply entrenched, fitba-mad citizens lay down their arms and their metaphorical poison pens.
Like early last week, when hugely popular Rangers kitman Jimmy Bell passed away.
Tributes to ‘Mr Rangers’, a 40-year club stalwart, flowed in from all corners of the city, just as they did after the death of legendary Ibrox manager Walter Smith last year.
It was a similar story when Celtic great Bertie Auld died a few months ago; mutual respect, in spades.
That compassionate bon homie doesn’t extend, however, to appreciation of what the other lot achieve on the pitch.
Both clubs have had plenty to celebrate over the last few days — and hearty congrats all round — while their respective supporters have been busy attempting to poo-poo the other lot’s achievements.
For instance, the first blue-tinted churls emerged when it was confirmed that champions-elect Celtic would be granted an automatic place in next season’s Champions League group stage.
Recent performances in Europe would suggest it isn’t something the Bhoys deserve; you can’t dine out on ‘That Win Over Barca’ forever.
Indeed, the last time they qualified for the group stage of the continent’s blue riband competition was at the end of Brendan Rodgers’ second season in charge.
The less said about subsequent results, the better, but Uefa’s lucre helped soothe the pain.
And now they’ve hit the jackpot again, with at least £40m heading their way merely for stepping in for one of the Russian clubs who’d been turfed out of the competition.
There’s not a chance of anyone at Parkhead suggesting that Ange Postecoglou’s side has ‘benefited’ from the war in Ukraine, and no doubt every Hoops fan would rather there was no conflict and no Champions League group stage qualification, rather than the other way round.
Rangers fans, however, are in no doubt as to who’s really responsible for their bitter rivals’ good fortune.
With Russia (ranked ninth) out of the reckoning, the coveted group stage spot went to the next highest-ranked nation — Scotland — courtesy of their ‘coefficient’ which was hitherto only good enough to get their champions into the qualifying rounds.
But (at least, according to Teddy Bears on social media) the reason Scotland’s coefficient is so healthy is due to their team’s recent impressive performances in European competition, not Celtic’s.
Up to a point, Lord Copper — or in this case, several points.
When the total coefficient — and let’s not get ourselves bogged down on how it’s calculated — towards Scotland’s ranking, which includes bonus points and qualifying rounds, is added up over five seasons, Celtic have 59 to Rangers’ 49.5.
In short, the men in green have contributed more to the coefficient — but Rangers’ contribution helped take the Scots to just behind Russia, and therefore in line to benefit directly from the inevitable expulsion.
Remember also that, at the start of this particular five-season qualifying period, the Teddy Bears were still finding their feet having just returned to the top flight.
Now, however, they’ve reached the Europa Cup final; the first team outside of the big five European leagues to get that far since 2018.
The late Walter Smith, who led them to their last European final 14 years ago, would surely have been so proud of that dazzling victory over RB Leipzig in front of 50,000 highly-emotional fans last Thursday — a result that will see them overtake Celtic in terms of Uefa points accrued over five years.
Of more immediate concern for Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his men, however, is beating Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium on May 18 and the highly lucrative bonus of making it into the Champions League group stage themselves.
Aye, but it’s hardly akin to winning Big Ears in ‘67, is it?
Nevertheless, that ‘Double’ of sorts (and let’s not forget there’s a Scottish Cup final against Hearts to negotiate, three days after Seville) would guarantee the blue side of Glasgae sufficient bragging rights to eclipse Celtic’s impressively rapid, title-winning renaissance under their new Australian manager.
One of the Old Firm clubs wins the league every year, but no one these days expects a Scottish club to get so far in Europe.
Should the Gers fans end up singing their newly-adopted terrace anthem “Heaven is a place on Earth” again, this time in Seville, the club’s total ‘take’ from a thrilling 10-month, 19-game Europa League campaign will be around £20m.
That’s relative peanuts, though, compared with the holy grail of Champions League group stage involvement.
Financial figures for next season have yet to be confirmed, but Celtic are already assured at least £12.78m as ‘base payment’, just for being there.
Every win will guarantee them over £2.26m, with £750,000+ for securing a draw.
And that’s before broadcast revenue, gate receipts and match-day income from the three home group games are taken into account.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest Celtic will bag between £9m and £10m profit for every big European night next season.
And all this, I can confirm, has been made possible by Rangers — but not in the way the most churlish of their supporters are suggesting.
One of the reasons Celtic are already in the group stages of next season’s Champions League, and Rangers aren’t, is because the defending champions failed to win as many Scottish Premiership games as them — including the ones that really mattered.