Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley believes that a Scottish Cup win for his old club could have as many benefits off the field as on it for manager Mark Warburton’s rebuilding programme.
The country’s oldest piece of silverware carries with it a place in the Europa League qualifiers and triumphing over Hibernian in Saturday’s final would mark Rangers’ return to clinching major honours and continental competition following a five-year absence precipitated by liquidation in 2012.
“Winning the cup would be huge for Rangers because it gets them back into Europe but it will also bring sponsorship and other revenue,” Hateley, 54, said.
“Rangers are now back in the top flight and with that comes the financial rewards. It’s been a while since there have been suitors clambering over each other to do deals.
“Winning the Scottish Cup brings kudos that any club manager would want on his CV when he retired. But it’s the fact that Rangers can get straight back into European football that is the big bonus. Europe is the be all and end all of the big clubs.”
Hateley can, though, see a potential downside should Ibrox host regular European football as a Premiership challenge is attempted and he believes it could only be solved in the transfer market.
“It might hinder Rangers a bit in terms of the championship because they will obviously have more games to play,” added Hateley. “And I don’t think there is any doubt Mark [Warburton] will have to bring in more players if they qualify.
“He says he likes to keep a tight squad because it keeps everyone interested, knowing that they all have a chance of playing. But the demands next season are going to be so much different. They are not only back in the top division they have the domestic cup competitions and they could have European football. Physically and mentally it will be a lot more demanding than they have been used to.
“However, this is what Rangers are all about and the level that they should be playing at. This is the Rangers I know and the one I played for. Those who have been playing this year have had expectations on their shoulders, but you can double that for next year. That can bring its own mental fatigue because it’s hard when you’re playing big matches week in, week out.
“Around Christmas I felt they needed to bring in six or seven players to add to what they’ve already got – and that was before they brought in Harry Forrester, who has been a good acquisition. So I would still say six, but if there is a European campaign I would add two on top of that.”