Why were the Old Firm so dominant in the wage-cap era?

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Peter Heid
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Why were the Old Firm so dominant in the wage-cap era?

Post by Peter Heid » Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:29 pm

Between the summer of 1904 and the outbreak of World War II thirty-five years later, Rangers and Celtic won the League every season except 1931-32.
How did the Diabolical Duo manage a hegemony like that when the wage-cap prevented them from offering better pay than their competitors?
I suppose their reputations would have counted for something when attracting players - but could that factor alone have won them 34 championships out of 35?
This is the sort of question to which asking for a definitive answer would be very optimistic indeed: but does anyone have any theories?

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Post by Sat31March1928 » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:30 am

Whilst not an answer the 'why'.

Hearts would almost have certainly won the league in 1914-15 had the majority of the team not signed up in Nov 1914. They were playing some matches after doing a 'night's march' the night before. They were top of the league right up to the last 2 games. John McCartney's vision was to build the best team in the land.


Hearts didn't recover until the 1930s.
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Post by the hibLOG » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:47 am

There were plenty of other ways to pay players other than with wages. Not legitimate of course, but why would that have stopped them? Remember that Celtic populated their first side in 1888 with most of the then Hibs team by offering inducements in the form of the licences to lucrative Glasgow pubs. That was in amateur days so there's no reason to think that a wage cap would have prevented the Old Firm getting their men by other means.

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Post by Scottish » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:35 am

First off, there never was a maximum wage in Scotland so the OF could - and did - pay more than other clubs. This lack of a maximum wage also meant that, unlike others, the OF were virtually immune from having to transfer their players south of the border. No one left Ibrox or Parkhead unless the club wanted them to go and even then - witness Jimmy McGrory and Arsenal - they could stay put if they so desired.

Also, the vast majority of players with other clubs - even in the First Division - were part-timers. Then there's the 'payment in kind' outlined by the Hiblog which extended to houses as well as jobs.

I'd turn the query on its head. I've never been able to satisfactorily resolve why the challenge to the OF in the inter-war period came from the likes of Airdrie and Motherwell and not - except on rare occasions - from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee which possessed the clubs best placed in theory to challenge the OF.

I accept what Davy says about Hearts in 1914-15 but that doesn't explain why it was almost a quarter of a century later before Hearts finished 2nd in the league or why they never reached a single Scottish Cup Final during the inter-war era. Or why Hibs were relegated. Or why it took until 1937 for Aberdeen to reach the SCF. Or why a Dundee team that challenged before WW1 did little afterwards and were also relegated.

The OF - IMHO - ruled virtually by default in those days. I can't see any reasons why the kind of challenges which were successful in the first two post-WW2 decades never took place in the 1920s and 1930s.

And even within the OF it wasn't a duopoly of equals. Celtic won as many titles between 1927-1965 as Hibs did between 1948-1952 or Aberdeen in 1980-85.

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