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Rangers should show common sense and hand Celtic league title, says John Hartson

 

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Old foes: Steven Davis wrestles with Christopher Jullien

Old foes: Steven Davis wrestles with Christopher Jullien

Title shout: John Hartson

Title shout: John Hartson

Old foes: Steven Davis wrestles with Christopher Jullien

John Hartson has called on Rangers to consider conceding the Ladbrokes Premiership title to Celtic if the season is unable to resume.

With eight games remaining, the Hoops are 13 points clear of their Old Firm rivals at the top having played a game more.

Scottish football is currently in shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis until at least April 30 but there is speculation that it could be many more months before the game can restart.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson stressed that he wants the season completed, which is the preference of Celtic, albeit chief executive Peter Lawwell insists the campaign cannot be declared null and void and that in the event that the matches cannot be completed, responsibility to find a "fair" solution lies with the Scottish football governing bodies.

However, noting that the Highland League brought their season to an early end this weekend and awarded the title to leaders Brora Rangers, who were 13 points clear of Inverurie Loco Works FC with six games remaining, Hartson called for Rangers to take the lead in a similar way.

The former Celtic striker said: "Celtic probably have to lose five out of their last eight league games to be overtaken. Let's be realistic about it, that isn't going to happen. Celtic are flying.

"It is looking like we might not get going and I feel that there are too many hurdles to get over to get the league under way.

"If Rangers were to say, 'Okay, you have been worthy champions, you have got a massive lead and if the season were to stop, Celtic would be handed the title', then they would come away with a lot of credit.

"I can honestly say I would be saying exactly the same if Rangers had the lead Celtic have.

"I know this causes a little bit of controversy. What happens with Hearts (bottom), do they get relegated when (owner) Ann Budge is coming out and saying they would take legal action as they feel they would have an opportunity to get themselves in a safe position if they play the league out?

"Everyone has to come together here. There are certain cases when you say, 'You know what, let's have a bit of common sense'.

"And I feel if Rangers were to do that, as a football club, that would bring football together.

"With all the negativity going around the world with this coronavirus, I think they would come out of it with huge respect and gratitude from the other clubs.

"It would be a nice gesture. I am not saying Celtic want it to happen. It probably won't happen and I will probably be shot down for this, but it would be unbelievable if something like that was going to happen."

Pundit Alan Brazil is a Celtic fan but he doesn't feel Neil Lennon's side should be awarded the title in order to get the 2020-21 season started on time. He said: "We should complete this season when it is safe to do so and then worry about the future.

"I think it's the way the majority of fans would want things to happen."

Brazil says football seasons across Europe must be completed before a new one can start, as he dismisses "whinging" about the strain on players.

Leagues across Europe have been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Uefa moving Euro 2020 back a year to try and allow time to complete domestic seasons.

There have also been concerns about the workload put on players if they have to finish this campaign and immediately go into a new football season, but Brazil feels that is the least of anyone's worries.

"Players' welfare is important but I will not accept whinging about a hectic schedule from people earning £150,000 a week," he said.

"Yes, there will be pressure on players and managers, but it's a type of pressure they should relish. Real pressure is on the people wondering if they can pay the rent or worrying about loved ones who are unwell.

"There are a number of coaches and managers who feel that having a winter break is vitally important for players. They might be right that it's important but they'll just have to find a way to cope. In times of crisis it's important that people have something to cheer them up.

"There are no easy answers to the problems caused by this pandemic but the football community should realise how many of them lead a pampered existence."

Meanwhile, former Rangers and Hibs star Ian Murray has insisted Florian Kamberi's deadline day move to Ibrox was a "last-minute panic signing" after Jermain Defoe got injured.

The Albanian signed for the Light Blues until the end of the season and Murray admits he'd be surprised if Kamberi had any long-term future in Glasgow - claiming he's not "shown enough" for Steven Gerrard's side.

Murray, who spent two years as a Rangers player, believes Kamberi isn't good enough to be the main man at Ibrox.

"Kamberi looked like a last-minute panic signing for Rangers because of Defoe's injury," Murray said. "I was surprised they went for him and I'll be even more surprised if they want to keep him.

"I don't think he has shown enough. To play for Rangers in that position you need to be a special player. There have been guys who get 20 goals a season and can't get a starting berth at Ibrox. Kamberi would always be a back-up at that club."

Belfast Telegraph