The news that several of the country’s top bookmakers had suspended betting on Rangers to be relegated from the SPFL Premiership had social media abuzz last night.
Everything from administration to liquidation was ripe for discussion after the announcement by odds-comparison site Oddschecker that they had reported an unusual amount of punters backing Rangers for the drop.
Graeme Murty’s side are preparing for friendly ties in Florida, and there are no outward signs of trouble brewing at the Ibrox club.
A court ruling mandating Dave King to make an offer to shareholders to buy the remaining shares in the club looms large, but there appears to be no imminent financial pressure which would see the club forced into administration.
We look at why the betting was suspended, and why Rangers fans needn’t necessarily worry.
Suspending a market
The suspension of a market doesn’t necessarily mean something is about to happen, or even become odds-on.
As the bookies themselves noted the price ‘collapse’ in Rangers was from 5000/1 to 500/1, a significant tightening of odds, but still massive.
Plenty pointed out last night that the last time a Rangers market was suspended, it was on Dutch striker Robin Van Persie joining the club, a fanciful notion then and now.
Betting markets are suspended regularly – in-play markets during matches, for example, are suspended whenever there’s a free-kick or corner.
It is simply bookmakers’ way of stopping themselves getting stung by over-generous odds, and is standard practice.
Creating a market
Many people still reason, however, there must be some reason why the market was suspended and why punters backed the Light Blues for the drop.
With the looming six-year anniversary of Rangers entering Administration, it is possible some nostalgic fans of rival clubs decided to back a repeat performance.
With such huge odds at stake, it only takes a relatively small amount of money (often as low as a few hundred pounds) to move a market to the point of suspension, or odds-revision.
A fan, or group of fans, can effectively attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by putting down enough money to move the market, for their own amusement, or to attempt to create enough instability to make their outcome more likely.
No need to worry?
As the recent AGM, inconsistent on-field form, and the abortive bid to hire Derek McIness as the club’s new manager have showed, there aren’t too many reasons for Rangers fans to be cheerful at the moment.
The betting activity might have garnered plenty of excitement, as anything related to the Old Firm often does, but in itself is no reason to assume any kind of renewed financial crisis at Ibrox is imminent.
As Robin Van Persie could tell you, suspension doesn’t always mean reality, and Rangers look set to remain active in the January transfer window.
With the Premiership winter break in full swing, excitement is often hard to come by, and last night’s news proved there is still plenty of appetite for discussion of Rangers financial past, and any potentially troubled fuure.