If Rangers fans were not under the impression that the Ibrox club were in serious financial trouble then surely the potential £700,000 sale of Kenny Miller to Birmingham City will put the views of those with any delusions about the state their team are in firmly into focus.
On the face of it £700,000 for a 31 year old striker six months before his contract is due to expire doesn’t sound a terrible bit of business. In fact it sounds very good considering Miller himself seems to have no interest in signing a new contract on whatever terms are being made available to him by the Rangers/Lloyds hybrid board.
However these are not normal circumstances down Govan way, and this could be viewed as not only a major blow to Rangers title pursuit but more significantly the clearest sign yet that the club is being run on nothing more than a financial basis on the back of years of mismanagement. It leaves Rangers fans wondering how long it will be before the likes of Alan McGregor, Madjid Bougherra and Sasa Papac become more than just press room whispers and instead have the title of ‘ex-Rangers player’ bestowed upon them.
Back on point and moving on from speculating on others is the sale of Kenny Miller a good move for the defending champions?
Those in agreement with the move will say that getting around £700,000 for a player who seems set on leaving, at the age he is at and with 6 months on his contract makes sense and its better moving now than getting nothing at the end of the season. There is also the argument that Rangers are in a serious financial predicament and given the lack of sell-on value a new contract would create for a player in his 30’s as well as wages which will be amongst the highest at the club, it makes financial common sense to accept such an offer.
The money generated from his sale could be used to re-invest in the squad, this has been shown by the pursuit of David Goodwillie, a young prospect with the potential to be as good as if not better than Miller, decent sell on potential and available on a fraction of the wages.
The days of an SPL player from another club coming in and sitting on the bench are long gone such is the way that the financial clout of the Old Firm has been reined in. For Goodwillie himself it could be seen as a stepping stone into a more high profile environment before heading down south. It’s not a certainty it would happen in his case, but too many young Scottish players head to England too early only to get lost in the shuffle, returning north with their tail between their leagues and half the player they once were.
This is where the arguments against Miller going start to come to fruition. He is in sensational form this season; 22 goals in half a season is not to be sniffed at. However its 22 goals in a Scottish game in decline against opposition who have proven to be troubled by such footballing giants as Llanelli, Sigma Olomouc and Maribor in the last couple of years.
His record down south when placed in the biggest stage of them all, The Premiership, hardly sings great signing on the part of Alex McLeish either. Derby County and Wolves fans will attest to the fact that at a higher level he was never quite able to cut it. Add to the fact that McLeish already has 3 strikers of a perceived better calibre than Miller available as well as his pursuit of Robbie ‘I’ve supported this club since I was a boy’ Keane it is not inconceivable Miller could find himself as 4th or 5th choice for a middle of the road Premiership team. The term Big Fish in Small Pond springs to mind. If there is indeed any further evidence required for that analogy look no further than Middlesbrough and the fortunes of Kris Boyd and Scott McDonald, tipped to fire Boro back to The Premiership they are now more involved in warming benches and avoiding relegation.
To bring it back to Rangers fans say that by selling the country’s top scorer is an open invitation to let rivals Celtic win the league. In business jargon they believe they should ‘speculate to accumulate’ believing that surely if they keep Miller they will go on to win the league, win the cups and go further in the Europa League. The problem with that theory, just like in business, there is no guarantee that any of this will turn out to be the case. Let’s call a hard working striker, a hard working striker. Kenny Miller is no Lionel Messi, his running and nuisance value being his main attributes while until this season he would have struggled to hit a barn door with a combine harvester on a regular basis.
The move itself is an interesting insight of what is going on behind the scenes at Ibrox. It appears as if money talks then players will walk or at least be pushed. Is this the right decision for Rangers and Miller? Only time will tell. For Miller’s sake I hope he learns from his previous mistakes and is successful down south, if not it may only go to further tarnish the reputation of the SPL in England. If you ask the Rangers Board I’m sure they will tell you it is the only decision they could make to safeguard the future of the club. Tough times ahead at this early stage of 2011 may already be the understatement of the year for Rangers fans.