Jim Duffy comment: Economy stands to score from Scottish football

As the football season comes to a close in Scotland, while the marching season kicks off, one Glasgow Club has stolen the limelight with a major signing.

Jim Duffy- 'this sport is vitally important for the Scottish economy in many ways'. Picture: Contributed
Jim Duffy- 'this sport is vitally important for the Scottish economy in many ways'. Picture: Contributed

It has been all over the sports pages as Steven Gerrard takes the hot seat at Ibrox. A hot seat that has an ejector button more akin to an Austin Powers movie, where Dr Evil ousts non performers with a flick of a button. But, why should we even care who the new Rangers manager is? Why should we take notice of what is going on in football at all in Scotland? Well, believe it or not, it’s an important part of our economy.

I recall President Clinton leading his charge on the US economy in 1992, when he said – It’s the economy stupid. It was a fast one liner that provided a real boost to him and marked him out as serious about the biggest economy in the world. I’ve never really understood economics, whether it be micro or macro, but I do know that many learned souls love to churn out figures that are meaningful. But, not much on Scottish football.

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Scottish football is one of those anachronistic pastimes that has endured in spite of itself. It is true many teams struggle to keep afloat and the last decade has been truly tough. Yet, as a sport it persists in existing, albeit for many with the aid of intensive care breathing apparatus. Nevertheless, this sport is vitally important for the Scottish economy in many ways. Am I saying that if football disappeared totally, we would go further down the stank in economic terms? No, but football contributes not just in terms of its contribution to our economy, but to our mindsets.

Let me get one thing straight, Scottish Football does not need a strong, successful Rangers. Rangers needs a strong, successful Rangers. In the same way Hearts or Hibs require to be strong for themselves. History has shown us that having Celtic and Rangers constantly as respective league champions and runners up, does not spread the money love around the country. But, big news from these clubs does play a part in lifting spirits, selling tickets and boosting the economy.

That is why having Steven Gerrard take the helm at Rangers is a good thing for the football economy. I accept that we will never be like the English Premiere League that is awash with cash and contributes an estimated £3.4 billion annually to the UK economy. This collection of clubs has generated £2.4bn in taxes annually employing over 100,000 people in the UK. It’s a massive beast, a great business that attracts broadcasting revenues in excess of £700 million per annum with a global following. Steven Gerrard was a small part of this. Having his name and commitment to Scottish football adds some economic pixie dust to our hinterland.

At Rangers, season ticket sales will explode, shirt sales will increase along with all general merchandise and fans from other rival clubs will be keen to travel to either Ibrox or their own clubs to see what Gerrard can produce. Already social media has hotted up with jolly japes on Mr Gerrard, which I am sure he has not and will not read. But, this all adds to the melting pot of the football economy that Scotland needs to constantly add to.

Just as Paul Gascoigne put some fever pitch into Scottish football, so too Mr Gerrard will ignite a curiosity into this “financial” market. The pubs will be fuller to watch games, the bookies will offer some new attractive odds and the media has already jumped on the Gerrard bandwagon. But, let us not forget the WAG [wives and girlfriends] economics also. Alex Curran, the model wife of Mr Gerrard will bring glamour and her own sartorial elegance to our football economy. Other WAGs will follow where she leads and this in turn will generate a new lease of life into retail sales. Yes, it’s all go over in Glasgow. But, the Gerrard signing means more than just two fingers to Celtic. It creates hope and gives a much needed boost to an important economic contributor to the Scottish economy – football.

- Jim Duffy MBE – Create Special