Revealed: The incredible wages of Celtic and Rangers when they could compete with the Premier League elite

Twenty years ago Celtic and Rangers were able to compete with the Premier League elite when it came to paying wages.

Figures released by Nick Harris highlight the disparity which has developed across the last two decades in terms of what the clubs can pay north and south of the border.

In today’s football climate, the Old Firm can’t compete with their contemporaries from the Premier League.

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Yet, in the 1998-1999 campaign Rangers paid £31million, more than Manchester United with only Liverpool and Chelsea eclipsing the Ibrox side’s outlay.

What makes it more incredible is that was the season the Red Devils won the famous treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rangers also won a treble that year under Dick Advocaat after finishing the previous season empty handed as Celtic prevented the Govan side from achieving 10 league titles in a row.

Under the stewardship of David Murray, the club invested heavily in the side with a number of big names leaving and were replaced by the likes of Arthur Numan, Gabriel Amato, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Andrei Kanchelskis and Colin Hendry.

Other players to arrive that season were Daniel Prodan, Stephane Guivarc’h, Neil McCann, Stefan Klos and Claudio Reyna.

New Rangers signing Giovanni Van Bronckhorst is unveiled to the media by manager Dick Advocaat. Picture: SNS

Rangers paid more than double Celtic’s £14.5million. Despite the league win under Wim Jansen, Slovak Jozef Venglos took charge of the side and the most significant signing was Mark Viduka with Lubo Moravcik also arriving.

The Parkhead side’s wage bill was comparable to Aston Villa (£16.6million) and Leeds United (£17.4million), plus much higher than Manchester City (£6.9million). However, that season City were playing in England’s third tier.

In the intervening period the wages bills have changed quite drastically.

Celtic’s has grown by 307 per cent to £59million, while Rangers’ has reduced by 23 per cent, down to £24million.

In the Premier League Manchester City’s has risen by 3,668 per cent and Manchester United’s by 917 per cent.