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Before we start warming up for the warm ups there is a total absolute cock up

By Tony Attwood

You possibly didn’t know that there was a match on tonight – not unless you are a close follower of Scottish football.

But yes, the extra, pre-qualifying, qualifying round of the pre-qualifying extra round tournament before the Europa League is already underway.  In fact tonight was the second leg.

And one result that has shaken the footballing world – well at least that bit of it that is alert to the fact that there are matches going on – is Progres Niederkorn 2-0 Rangers.

Now you might be unaware of the mighty Progres Niederkorn, but they are something rather special, and not just any old club.  For they came fourth in the Luxembourg League last season, and that is no mean feat believe me.

# Team P W D L F A Pts
1. Dudelange 26 20 5 1 68 14 65
2. Differdange 26 20 5 1 65 21 65
3. Fola 26 16 8 2 69 34 56
4. Niedercorn 26 13 5 8 57 38 44

As we can see they were a mere 21 points behind the league winners, so not a team to be compared to a bowl of trifle.

Three times domestic league winners, the club’s most successful years were at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s.   But they have not won any major silverware (and as you will know, silverware is pretty major in Luxembourg) since the 1981 league title.

In the 2005–06 season, Niedercorn finished second in Luxembourg’s second division, the Division of Honour. And that was an honour.   As the top league, the National Division, expanded from twelve teams to fourteen, Niedercorn were promoted along with Differdange 03.

Now I must say, Differdange is a pretty nifty name for a club, but for now we must let that pass and go back to Rangers.

There was an away-goals defeat for Rangers in 2002 by Viktoria Zizkov, (which at the time I thought was an all-girls team, but isn’t) but this is something extra.

This time Rangers won the first leg 1-0.   But 2-0 in the second leg means (with the help of my calculator) that Rangers are out.

This result will be spoken about for many years, at least by me if not by anyone else. In any case, it’s a bit of a bugger for Rangers financial situation, as they were expecting to get to the latter stages in the Europa, and of course challenge Celtic at the top of the league.

But it’s also a bit of a knock for Scottish football, because it plays havoc with the coefficient and there is a rumour that Rangers did it deliberately to ensure that Celtic have to start ever earlier in the qualifying rounds of the Champs League. St Johnstone are behind in their Europa League first leg against Trakai, having lost at home 1-2 so that doesn’t help.

Aberdeen join in at the next stage of the Europa and Celtic have qualifiers to play in the Champions League. Will any Scottish team reach the group stage of either of European football’s club competitions?  Who knows.

One web site has given us a chance to see this in perspective saying Rangers are out of Europe before Wimbledon has really got going, in the first full week of the Scottish school holidays, and before some of their new signings have even arrived at the club.

What makes it worse is that Progres weren’t even playing at their home ground – the match had been moved to the national stadium. This was the team’s first European win in 14 matches.

There is now a rumour that new Rangers star Ryan Jack has caught a plane back to his former club Aberdeen.

Here is the record of the Luxemburgers in Europe

Season Competition Opponent Home Away Aggregate
1977–78 European Cup Winners’ Cup Vejle Boldklub 0–1 0–9 0–10
1978–79 European Cup Real Madrid 0–7 0–5 0–12
1979–80 UEFA Cup Grasshopper Club Zürich 0–2 0–4 0–6
1981–82 European Cup Glentoran 1–1 0–4 1–5
1982–83 UEFA Cup Servette 0–1 0–3 0–4
2015–16 UEFA Europa League Shamrock Rovers 0–0 0–3 0–3
2017–18 UEFA Europa League Rangers 2–0 0–1 2–1

But the excitement is not all over for Rangers as tomorrow, Wednesday, a final verdict on the Rangers “big tax case” will be delivered by the Supreme Court.

The liquidators of oldco Rangers were granted leave to appeal to the court over a ruling that the use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) broke tax rules.   Rangers, as we noted on Untold at the time, used the scheme from 2001 until 2010 to give loads of tax-free loans to players and other staff.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) lost two tribunals before judges agreed these were salary payments subject to tax.

The decision was in relation to Murray Group companies, including the liquidated company RFC 2012 – formerly The Rangers Football Club PLC.

Although this doesn’t affect the current club the liquidators were allowed to appeal as the ruling has implications for future cases.   The Supreme Court judges will deliver their binding verdict, which will be screened live on its website, at 09:45 on 5 July.

I am sure the Rangers players will be taking quite an interest.

Overall though it is not the best of starts for the new Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha who has been managing in Mexico.  He has targeted a second-place finish in this season’s Premiership and lifting the Scottish Cup, and has now started with second place to the Luxembourgers.   He has previously been assistant at clubs in Saudi Arabia, Greece and Romania and managed in his homeland.

“The main actors in this business are the footballers, so we are also going to need some investment and we are discussing those things,” he said.

Players as actors…   Worth thinking about.

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4 comments to Before we start warming up for the warm ups there is a total absolute cock up

  • Leon

    I didn’t know about about this shaking the footballing world, but it didn’t make a ripple in mine.
    When I was a kid Rangers were my third team (behind Arsenal & Finchley), due to the annual fixture we had, but nowadays I couldn’t care less what happens to them or their very unpleasant supporters.
    Well done to Progres Niederkorn, and hope we meet them down the line.

  • Chris

    Well, say what you want, but the Europa League sure looks like a much better way to get europeans to know each other better than tne CL.
    Just think about all this Luxembourg and Scottish cities the readers are now aware of ?!?!

  • Leon: Rangers behind Finchley. What an interesting thought.

  • Leon

    Tony
    Finchley because my teacher George Robb played for them before he went on to you know where.

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