Rangers Profile

Major Honours Scottish Premiership (54), European Cup Winners' Cup (1), Scottish Cup (33), Scottish League Cup (27)
Year Founded 1872

Rangers FC is a football club based in Glasgow, Scotland. They are the most successful in terms of league titles in the history of Scottish football. Rangers play their home matches at Ibrox Stadium.

Rangers are often referred to as Glasgow Rangers for an international audience - even though that is not the official name of the club - and they contest the Old Firm Derby with city rivals, Celtic.

They are one of the most successful clubs in world football in terms of overall trophies won. At the time of writing, only Al Ahly of Egypt have won more. Rangers' 54 league titles is a joint world record, held along with Linfield of Northern Ireland.

Rangers were one of the founding members of the Scottish Football League system and had been ever-present in the top tier of Scottish football before their financial troubles in the early 2010s saw them relegated for the first time in their history.

Early history

Moses McNeil and Peter McNeil, Peter Campbell and William McBeath - four teenage brothers - founded Rangers in March 1872. Their first match was a goalless draw in a friendly against Callander on Glasgow Green.

Moses McNeil became Rangers' first international player when he represented Scotland against Wales. In 1877, they made the Scottish Cup final, but after a first leg draw, they refused to turn up for the replay and the trophy was awarded to Vale of Leven.

However, Rangers beat Vale of Leven the following year to win their first major trophy - the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup. The Gers had also competed in the English FA Cup, even making it to the semifinals before losing out to Aston Villa in 1887.

Rangers' first match against Celtic took place in 1888, the year of the latter's establishment, losing 5-2 in a friendly.

Rangers were one of 10 original members in the Scottish Football League's inaugural season, 1890/91. Having started out by playing at Burnbank Park, Rangers had moved into Ibrox by the time the first ever Scottish Football League season had come around. They shared the first league championship with Dumbarton - the only shared Scottish top flight title ever.

In 1894, Rangers beat Celtic in the final of the Scottish Cup to win the trophy for the first time having lost two previous finals.

From the 1890s to 1910s, Rangers established themselves firmly as a dominant force in Scottish football. A pair of Scottish Cup victories in 1897 and 1898 were followed in 1899 by a league title victory that saw the Gers win each of their 18 matches.

Rangers and the Bill Struth era

Bill Struth, legendary former Rangers manager pictured in 1924

Bill Struth took over the managerial reigns in 1920 and proved to be Rangers' most successful manager ever in an astonishing 34-year spell.

Struth succeeded the club's first ever manager, William Wilton after Wilton's death following two decades at the helm. Struth had previously served for six years as Wilton's assistant, quickly settling into life after his promotion to manager and would remain in charge all the way until 1954.

Struth guided Rangers to 14 top-flight titles prior to the Second World War and another four afterwards to take his total tally to 18 - averaging out as winning a title every second season in charge. Coupled with their league success, Struth guided Rangers to 10 Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups in his lengthy tenure.

David Meiklejohn, Alan Morton, Bob McPhail, Willie Thornton, Jock Shaw, George Young and Willie Woodburn were among the many players who starred for Rangers in the Struth era.The 1948/49 campaign saw Struth and his Rangers side earn a first ever domestic treble in Scotland, made up by winning the Scottish League title, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in the same season.

Scot Symon and Willie Waddell played for Rangers under Struth and went on to carry his legacy at the club forward in the managerial hot seat after leaving his role after an incredible 34 years as manager, stepping aside at the age of 78.

The Scot Symon era

Symon joined Rangers as a player in 1939 and left in 1947 in a career that was interrupted by the Second World War. He returned to succeed his former boss, Struth, as manager.

During a 13-year spell in charge, Symon was able to continue the success that Struth had brought to Ibrox, winning six league titles, five Scottish Cups and four League Cups, alongside the club's first foray into Europe.

Rangers were involved in the European Cup for the first time in the 1956/57 season, losing out to Nice in the second round. But Symon and Rangers would embark on a run in the 1959/60 campaign that would see the club make it all the way to the semifinals of Europe's premier club tournament, beating Sparta Rotterdam to set up a last four tie with Eintracht Frankfurt. Unfortunately, though, Rangers would lose out by a hefty margin on aggregate, with the Germans winning 12-4 across both legs.

In 1961, Symon led Rangers to the European Cup Winners' Cup final in the inaugural edition of the tournament, but they lost 4-1 on aggregate to Fiorentina. He guided them back to the final again in the 1966/67 campaign. This time, they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich after extra time.

With their rivals' comparative success on the continent - as Celtic's 'Lisbon Lions' won the European Cup in the same season as Rangers' disappointing defeat in the Cup Winners' Cup - Symon was replaced as Rangers manager by his former assistant boss, Davie White.

The Ibrox disaster

On 2 January 1971, 66 people were killed and over 200 injured in a crush at an Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox. Until the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, it was the worst in British football history.

Rangers FC was ruled to be at fault by a sheriff's judgement related to one of the deaths and was sued by relatives of the deceased in 60 other cases.

The crush occurred as supporters were trying to leave the stadium. Safety concerns had previously been raised about Stairway 13 and it has been hypothesised that a supporter fell there, causing a chain pile-up.

Most of the deaths were caused by compressive asphyxia. Tragically, the lives of children were also lost during the disaster - the youngest of which being just nine years old, and half of the total lives lost were aged 19 and under.

Kenny Dalglish, who was then a Celtic player, was present in the stands that day. He also later witnessed the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters involving Liverpool fans up close.

As a result, significant changes were made at the stadium to improve safety that took three years to construct, with the vast majority of the ground becoming all-seater and the capacity of Ibrox reducing overall to accommodate the new safety measures.

To remember the supporters who never returned home on that fateful day in 1971, the club erected a monument at Ibrox with blue plaques listing the names of each supporter who died.

Jock Wallace and Rangers' revival

Jock Wallace brought Rangers back to the top of Scottish football after a difficult period for the club. Jock Stein had built a formidable Celtic side and Wallace had to take Rangers out of their shadow. In Wallace's first season in charge, the club's centenary season, they won the Scottish Cup. There were 122,714 supporters present to witness this.

In 1974/75, Rangers won their first league title in 11 years under Wallace's guidance, going on to win the treble the following year. In 1977/78, they repeated that achievement.

Derek Johnstone was one of the key players for Rangers under Wallace. John Greig, another one of his former players, took over as manager in 1978. However, after five years with limited success, he was replaced by Wallace as he took on a second term as the manager at Ibrox.

Wallace, too, was unable to restore the glory days for Rangers, with a pair of Scottish League Cups being the limits of their success and he was replaced by Graeme Souness in 1986, with Wallace going on to manage Sevilla in Spain for a short spell.

Nine straight league titles

Ally McCoist and Ian Durrant of Rangers celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership title in 1995

From 1988/89 to 1996/97, Rangers won a joint record nine Scottish top-flight titles in a row, matching the tally Celtic had achieved in the 1960s and '70s. Souness was in charge for the first three of those successes, including the 1990/91 title, which was won through a dramatic 2-0 win over Aberdeen on the final day of the season when Aberdeen needed only a draw to win the league.

Walter Smith took over from Souness in the dugout and the success continued at Ibrox throughout the 1990s. In 1992/93, Smith nearly led the Gers to the UEFA Champions League final, but they were beaten by Marseille, who topped Group A to advance.

Despite not reaching the final, this run had been Rangers' best showing in Europe for 20 years and the club were aiming to build on their standing in Europe as a result.

Six more titles in a row meant the Gers dominated the decade in Scottish football overall, with the last of the six trophies coming by a margin of 15 points. A tenth consecutive league trophy eluded Rangers, however, on the final day of the 1997/98 season as bitter rivals Celtic claimed the title by just two points to prevent their record of nine in a row being broken.

Smith confirmed during that campaign that he would be leaving Ibrox after one of the most successful spells by any Rangers boss. However, he was unable to leave with the record the Gers craved and the club's hegemony in the league was broken.

Continued Success

Dick Advocaat took over in 1998 and led Rangers to the domestic treble. However, the emergence of Martin O'Neill's Celtic proved to be his downfall.

Marquee signings such as Tore Andre Flo were brought to the club with the Dutchman's arrival seen as being part of a club strategy to elevate themselves to a higher standing within Europe. However, with Celtic gaining more success domestically and having been unable to progress past the group stages in the Champions League, Advocaat resigned in December 2001 and the club had begun to accrue debt as a result of their lavish spending.

Alex McLeish, Advocaat's successor, led Rangers to another domestic treble in 2002/03, but the club's financial state showed signs of wear in the early 2000s. Results on the field did not remain as impressive as they were initially under McLeish and he was replaced by Paul Le Guen after the 2005/06 season.

Walter Smith took over from Le Guen in 2007 and his return proved successful as he led Rangers to the Scottish league title in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Financial problems and relegation

Rangers were plunged into administration in early 2012 due to unpaid debts and then subsequently liquidated on 31 October of that year. As a result, Rangers had to start from scratch in the fourth tier of Scottish football.

A new-look squad was assembled after their drop to the bottom of the Scottish Football League structure, but they did set a new world record in their first game as a 'new' club when it was re-established.

Rangers' first match in the Scottish Third Division at Ibrox drew a crowd of 49,118 as they beat East Stirlingshire 5-1 - the world's highest ever attendance for a fourth division football match.

Rangers earned two quick promotions to get to the Scottish Championship, but it wasn't all plain sailing. After some surprising defeats in their first season in the second tier, Rangers lost a promotion playoff to Motherwell and they had to take another season to get back to the Premiership. In the process of climbing back up the leagues, Rangers became the first Scottish club to win every domestic trophy by taking each league title along the way.

Rangers and their return to top flight

Rangers had understandably lost ground to Celtic during their time away from the top flight and were initially unable to rein them in even after gaining promotion.

Considering the longstanding duopoly of Celtic and the Gers at the top of Scottish football, Celtic were left free to dominate Scottish football in the 2010s, winning nine league titles in a row and dominating domestic cup competitions as well.

However, under the guidance of Steven Gerrard, Rangers have begun to claw back their deficit of recent years. Gerrard helped take Rangers to the Europa League group stages in his first outings as Rangers manager, including going 12 games unbeaten at the start of his reign.

Gerrard and Rangers were able to improve their squad with some shrewd signings, including the arrival of former England international Jermain Defoe and bringing in Liverpool winger Ryan Kent.

The Gers have continued to progress under Gerrard, having kept in touch in the league with Celtic throughout the 2019/20 season, but lost out on the title by points-per-game after the SPFL season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Old Firm derby

Tempers flare between Celtic and Rangers players in the Old Firm derby in January 2021

Rangers naturally hold a longstanding rivalry with the only other club which can claim to be the most successful in Scotland, Celtic - with the first meeting between the teams coming in a friendly in 1888, and they have met more than 400 times since.

Rangers play their city rivals in the Old Firm derby, but they also regularly compete for trophies in Scotland. Due to the format of the Scottish Premiership, there are three or four Old Firm matches in the league season on a regular basis, alongside the teams competing in the latter stages of cup competitions year after year.

By some distance, Rangers and Celtic are Scotland's two most widely supported teams. Both are among the best supported clubs in the United Kingdom.

As a result, this leads to an extremely intense atmosphere at Ibrox and Celtic Park when the teams meet, which often leads to altercations between both sets of supporters on Old Firm days.

With the opposing religious permutations associated with both sets of supporters playing a part in their rivalry, there is also a significant cultural impact of the fixture alongside the bragging rights of winning the latest derby.

Celtic marginally trail Rangers in the overall league title count, but they are the only Scottish club to have ever won the European Cup.

Rangers and their fanbase

Sectarianism has always played a key role in the Old Firm rivalry. It is widely known that the majority of Celtic supporters identify as Catholic and the majority of Rangers supporters Protestant, providing the platform for one of the fiercest rivalries in the world.

Alongside sectarianism, Rangers supporters are often associated with Unionism - the belief that Scotland should continue their union with the United Kingdom, thus being generally opposed to Scottish independence.

Aside from having one of the largest supporter bases in the UK, the Gers have a global fanbase, too, with supporters' clubs based all around the world.

Club finances

Sevco Ltd. was the limited company formed in May 2012 to purchase Rangers' assets after the club was liquidated and relegated to the bottom of the Scottish football pyramid.

The new Rangers owners were abruptly renamed The Rangers Football Club Ltd as they re-established one of the oldest clubs in Scotland.

Rangers posted a loss of £15.9million for the year ending 30 June 2020. However, revenue rose 11% to £59m.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing financial difficulties throughout the game, the impact of not having the revenue brought in by having supporters at Ibrox will likely cause losses to increase - as is the trend at most clubs north and south of the border.

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