Speaking to the Evening Times, Rangers hero Derek Johnstone has claimed that Celtic need to be competing with Rangers and Hearts in the Scottish Premiership to sort out the quality of Scottish football.
Johnstone said: “We all want to make Scottish football better, and the more brains we have working towards that the better. Both Rangers and Hearts need to be there to sort things out, you can’t ignore them. Europe is out of the question at the moment. Celtic have done well previously, as have Rangers, but every other club has failed miserably and you have to start asking questions why and try to make things better.”
Hearts are already playing well in the top flight this season, and showing some sort of competition to Celtic, but it is already guaranteed that Ronny Deila’s men will win the league again this season.
They will stroll to domestic success, but their European hopes are all but extinguished. The Bhoys fell out of the Champions League at the qualifying stages, and currently sit bottom of their Europa League group.
They can still qualify to the next round of the competition, but it is increasingly unlikely, and the lack of competition in Scotland in negatively affecting Celtic’s international form.
They are not aware of the quality of football abroad, and as they have no competition in Scotland, the players and staff enter games too relaxed, and inevitably suffer.
Johnstone believes the way this can be resolved is by having Rangers back in the top flight competing with them, meaning that Celtic, Hearts and the Gers can have some sort of title race at the top of the league.
This means that no team could ever relax knowing that their rivals are ready to capitalise and win the title, and this pressure would force every team to improve.
Celtic may feel they have benefitted from Rangers’ absence in the top flight, as their trophy haul also suggests, but in reality they have suffered because of it, and their European chances will not improve until the Gers are fighting with them once again.