Whilst many a Scotsman like myself will admit to enjoying watching Premiership football, few of us would even attempt to make an argument that its unstoppable rise in popularity in modern times has done any favours for the Scottish game. After decades of fighting above its weight in European competition, the past two decades living in the shadow of the Premiership behemoth has brought little apart from comprehensive financial and competitive marginalisation for Scotland’s once proud clubs.
‘Battle of Britain’ ties when English and Scottish clubs were drawn together used to be really big occasions and classic, full-blown face-offs like Celtic’s defeat of Leeds United in the 1970 European Cup provided gripping drama. Despite Celtic’s noble efforts in eliminating both Blackburn and Liverpool from the 2002-03 UEFA Cup, Anglo-Scottish ties have tended to be more low-key skirmishes than great battles over the past couple of decades. With standards in Scotland plummeting as quickly as they’ve improved in England; even in this age of hyperbolic football marketing no-one can muster much enthusiasm for using the Battle of Britain label anymore. 1992 marked the turning point with the Rangers v Leeds United Champions League qualifying games probably the very last Anglo-Scottish tie that was a true battle of equals.