Fenlon: I feel for Rangers
ON THE eve of Hibernian's Scottish Premier League clash with Celtic, manager Pat Fenlon admits to having a lot of sympathy for Rangers and Hearts in their fight for survival.
Fenlon knows all about the Gers' current plight of points deductions for off-field behaviour, and unpaid tax bills and wages, having managed in the League of Ireland, and the Dubliner insists Scottish football is the loser if Celtic's Old Firm rivals and Hibs' Edinburgh foes are weakened as a result of their financial turmoil.
"Scottish football is having a bit of a hard time now," says Fenlon, who takes on Celtic boss Neil Lennon at Easter Road tomorrow.
"I saw a lot of that when I was managing and playing back home, but the difference is that when there were problems with money or whatever in Ireland, the blame was put on the manager.
"Here, it's completely different. The blame is put on the club and the people running the club. Ally McCoist isn't getting any stick, whereas in Ireland, the manager got the blame when things turned bad. It's peculiar.
"The clubs in Ireland got stick for the problems that came up, but you see Rangers, a massive club, in serious trouble and it makes you think that it's not just an Irish problem. Yet some people portrayed it as just an Irish thing, clubs going bust."
Yet Fenlon is not gloating over the possible demise of the Ibrox outfit.
"Even if you're a fan of a club, you don't want to see your rivals go out of business. You want to play them and beat them, whether that's Celtic-Rangers or Bohs-Rovers," he says.
"It would be disastrous for Scottish football for Rangers to go out of business. I'd imagine that the four Celtic-Rangers games are a core part of the TV deal here.
"Our fans maybe enjoy seeing Rangers squirming a bit, but I think they'd admit that it's gone far enough."
In his previous jobs with Bohs and Shelbourne, Fenlon had constant worries over finances, with match preparations constantly hampered by issues like the non-payment of wages or bonuses for players, not something he has to worry about in his current role.
"It's a relief not to have all that worry," he admits. "The structures are in place where, as manager, I don't have to worry if the players were getting paid on a Friday.
"Now I can manage the team and not get caught up in the other stuff and that's a big help, being able to concentrate on my job, which is picking a team and getting results.
"It's hard to compare the two leagues. At Bohs, we did the best we could in terms of having a full-time set-up but we were a million miles away from a place like Hibs."