Just as no well-intentioned mural can salve more than a century of animosity, nobody believes absence has made the heart grow fonder. There was a feeling, in 2012, that perhaps the two clubs might somehow come to realize they were locked, however unwillingly, in a mutually beneficial arrangement, that they needed each other for reasons both financial and sporting.
As Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, has admitted, Rangers’ demise has cost his club £40 million ($53 million) in lost revenue. Celtic, and Scottish football in general, were supposed to wither and die without one of the league’s twin titans. Stewart Regan, then in charge of the Scottish Football Association, even predicted “social unrest” if Rangers were not immediately readmitted to the top flight.
Such concerns, it is fair to say, do not seem to have permeated the fan base. “I didn’t miss them at all,” said Matt McGlone, editor of the Celtic fanzine Alternative View. “I understand there has to be competition, but it didn’t bother me.”
That the animosity has not dimmed in the last four years, though, does not mean it has not changed. Before that Scottish Cup meeting in April, two…