Published On: Wed, Jan 12th, 2011 at 5:18pm

Miller’s departure another sign of downsizing at Rangers

by Stewart Primrose

When hearing the news that Rangers had accepted a bid of around £700,000 from Birmingham City for striker Kenny Miller, my initial reaction was not of surprise but of acceptance and apathy.

I would, however, be shocked to see Miller move to Birmingham, especially with the likes of Fiorentina and Marseilles reportedly linked with the SPL’s top goalscorer. If it were me, an offer abroad to France or Italy would seem far more attractive than moving down south in what will most probably be a relegation battle.

Miller has been to England twice, with mixed success, and it would be good at this stage of his career, in what is probably his last contract, to try something new. Also the prospect of European football would remain, with Championship football being a distinct possibility next year at Birmingham.

Miller can pick and choose his clubs. He has earned the right to do so after two and a half excellent years at Ibrox. This season, in particular, has been fruitful for the ex Celtic man. 22 goals at the half way stage of the season has seen him in strong contention for the golden boot, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo his main challengers.

Whatever Miller does, though, it is not good news for Rangers fans. They cannot afford to give Miller a new contract. It simply is impossible for a club in Scotland to offer the £30,000 a week Miller is reportedly looking for. However, would it not be sensible to keep Miller on for the rest of the season and let him do what Kris Boyd did last year and leave on a Bosman?

£700,000 is not a lot of money and Rangers are going to struggle to get someone near Miller’s quality for even double that amount. The financial problems have been well documented at Ibrox, but surely keeping Miller could bring in more than his potential transfer fee?

Firstly, Rangers are still in Europe. Progression into the last 16 of the Europa League will mean more games, and the TV money and gate receipts alone would amount to more than £1 million.

Without Miller, Rangers do not have any suitable forwards to lead the line domestically and in Europe. Nikica Jelavic is cup tied which means the much maligned Kyle Lafferty is the likely candidate to replace him.

Steven Naismith can also play there but the squad is already too small at Rangers to contemplate losing its best player this season. If they could bring in David Goodwillie for around £1 million it would soften the blow, but he is potential and not someone to rely upon to fire the goals towards a third consecutive domestic title.

Secondly, another title gives Rangers a chance at Champions League qualification and a possibility of £10 million. The SPL winners would be pitched in with champions from other small nations, like Romania and the Czech Republic, but they will be seeded, giving them a favourable draw.

Is the gamble that much to take? £700,000 is not a lot of money in today’s mad football world, even with Rangers debt.

The problem, of course, is it’s not football people running the club but bankers. You do wonder what kind of influence absentee owner Sir David Murray has over transfer policy. He still owns the club and should be taking far greater responsibility than he currently is over the financial mess that was allowed to engulf on Scotland most successful sporting institution.

It was him, after all, who ran up debts of £80 million chasing an unrealistic dream. Then, after a share rights issue of over £50 million, he ran up more debts. This is mismanagement at best. Murray may have been a good thing for Rangers initially, and he has overseen some fantastic moments with the club, but his legacy is fast becoming known for financial ruin and embarrassment.

The decade of downsizing continues for Rangers with Miller’s expected departure. How long for and to what extent is now the real worry for everyone connected with the club.

First Published on Stewart’s own blog

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