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No matter what’s at stake it’s always the Old Firm, says Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish (Steve Welsh/William Hill/PA Wire)
Kenny Dalglish (Steve Welsh/William Hill/PA Wire)

But the former Celtic legend believes one thing remains the same – the Old Firm clash will never lose its magic.

Dalglish has heard the ongoing squabbling about the status of the fixture.

He knows some people maintain there is no longer an “Old Firm” because Rangers’ operating company was liquidated in 2012.

The 65-year-old is unmoved by those claims, saying: “It doesn’t matter what level they’re at, or if there’s four divisions between the clubs. When they play each other, it’s still the Old Firm.

“Did they not have that discussion before the last game, about it not being the Old Firm because they’re not in the same league?

“It’s the Old Firm, it’s Celtic-Rangers.

“It could be a testimonial, a cup final, a league decider, it doesn’t matter.

“People in Scotland – those close to it – know exactly what it means. And it’s still a game that excites me.

“When you play in it, it’s massive. When you go and watch it, it’s still different.

“You go to the Merseyside derby and it’s the same.

“Those two games, for me, are the biggest I’ve been involved in.

“I think today’s Scottish Cup semi-final will be a really good advert and next season, with the Old Firm back together, could reinvigorate Scottish football.”

Kenny Dalglish (centre) is snared by Rangers' Derek Johnstone and Willie Mathieson, 1974 (SNS Group)
Kenny Dalglish (centre) is snared by Rangers’ Derek Johnstone and Willie Mathieson, 1974 (SNS Group)

A neutral venue like Hampden is Dalglish’s favourite place for a game between Rangers and Celtic.

He said: “I used to think the cup finals and semi-finals were unbelievable occasions because it was like a birthday cake cut down the middle – one half blue and the other half green.

“Although the games never lost their magic, season-ticket sales changed things.

“At Parkhead, Rangers fans were restricted to that wee corner of Celtic Park while Celtic supporters get the Broomloan Stand at Ibrox. When the allocation is 50-50, however, the atmosphere is even better.”

Dalglish doesn’t believe that playing Rangers on a regular basis will stop Celtic selling their best players next season.

And he reckons there won’t be too many departures because all of their top performers have already gone.

He went on: “Celtic were sponsored by Southampton for a wee while there, weren’t they? Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk all went there.

“At the moment, I don’t see any current player – other than Kieran Tierney – that Celtic can trade in for decent money – and they’d be better off keeping him.

“Equally, the current group of players would be better off staying at Parkhead. I don’t believe that anyone in the English Premier League would come in for them.

“One or two of the current side are on loan, so they’re not Celtic’s players anyway.

“Apart from Tierney, Tom Rogic has kicked on a bit and somebody might have a look at Nir Bitton, but that’s about it.”

Ex-Old Firm rivals Kenny Dalglish (left) and Graeme Souness look ahead to the Scottish Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers (SNS Group)
Ex-Old Firm rivals Kenny Dalglish (left) and Graeme Souness look ahead to the Scottish Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers (SNS Group)

Dalglish dismisses the idea that Leigh Griffiths might be tempted to have another crack at English football.

He said: “The fact that he went to Wolves and then came back up on loan with Hibs means that, for me, Celtic will be his last port of call.

“Why would he want to go anywhere else?”

Kenny Dalglish was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.


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