Broke? Or going for broke?

Suddenly, life has changed in Glasgow. Rangers are more than half way to bankruptcy, have had points deducted so that Celtic have almost won the Premier League with many matches to play and there are tales of financial misdemeanours beyond calculation and a grim future for a club that used to have ambitions to play in the English Premier League, writes Ted Corbett.

In my thirties I worked in Scotland as the football correspondent for the Daily Mirror, then the biggest selling newspaper in the world, and was insulted every day.

Of course, everyone from England stands to be mocked if he works in Scotland; they hate us in a way which we have never quite understood.

I quickly learnt to understand their sporting world. It consisted of two clubs — Rangers, who had support from the Protestant majority and, four miles to the other side of Glasgow, Celtic, the Roman Catholic club.

There was no doubt which club was the more powerful, even though Celtic had just become the first British club to win the European Cup, managed by Jock Stein, who is still spoken of with awe.

Rangers ruled the roost, for all Stein's ability to talk to his supporters through the press. He was a reporter's dream, always producing excellent quotes, full of opinions and, if he thought you worthy of such tips, ready to drop stories into one's lap.

“See you,” he said in his difficult growling Glasgow accent, “you're the only fair reporter in this city. You don't care if someone is Protestant or Catholic because you haven't been brought up to tell the difference. Aye,” he added, “considering you're English, you're not a bad ‘un.”

By that time I had got used to the perils of reporting in Scotland. The distances are huge, the words left me puzzled and the rivalry between Rangers and Celtic beyond anything I have experienced around the world since.

The atmosphere at what were called Old Firm matches was a dreadful shock. At Rangers end there was a chorus of abuse for the Pope; at the other storms of insults for Protestants.

There is a story from the 1930s that a goalkeeper was kicked in the head and lay dying on the pitch and that the home players had to go round the ground begging the crowd not to let the club down by continuing to wish him ill.

One thing was absolutely clear. If Celtic were successful, they could fill their ground at Parkhead in the east end of Glasgow; if Rangers were losing they could still overfill their ground at Ibrox, near the Clydeside ship building yards where their supporters worked. I sometimes thought they might fill Ibrox if they announced there would be no football, but that is still unproven.

Suddenly, life has changed in that beautiful but murky city. Rangers are more than half way to bankruptcy, have had points deducted so that Celtic have almost won the Premier League with many matches to play and there are tales of financial misdemeanours beyond calculation and a grim future for a club that used to have ambitions to play in the English Premier League.

How that resolves itself remains to be seen but in any case it is only a microcosm of the situation surrounding many sporting organisations. It is not just money that is short but organisational skills seem to be lacking, leadership appears to be a rare commodity and I cannot count the number of formerly great football clubs alleged to be going under.

All this at a time when TV money flies about in abundance, when sponsors queue to have their names on the back of footballers' shirts and at the front of cricket grounds, when oil money pours into football and still the crowds flock to every sort of match.

Many of the biggest clubs have had — or claim to have had — offers from the petroleum billionaires, the papers advertise the wares on sale at every club in the world and if football in particular is not filling the back pages its stars are flaunting their success on page one.

So why is sport in danger of over-spending?

Not all. I note, for future reference, that the Olympics next summer appear to have built villages, stadia, tracks and training facilities and are — if they are telling the truth which is not always one of the political priorities — on time and in budget.

If it turns out to be untrue I will let you know but at the moment plans are being revealed daily. My local newspaper, based 70 miles from central London, devoted three pages just to the route of the Olympic torch, with maps and stats and pictures of the young and aged, fit and infirm who will take part.

The whole of Britain is ablaze with news of the Olympics, now to be held in a time of comparative plenty — despite the recession — compared with those post-War, cut-price, shabby Olympics in 1948.

It has, I am happy to report, the undivided backing of every man, woman and child who has ever run for a bus never mind run a race; it is to be one of the great moments in our history backed by the New Labour party who brought it here — a great coup since no-one expected we would win the battle with Paris — the ruling Conservatives, handed the responsibility for making it work and David Beckham, the face of our Olympic bid.

It will be a lovely time to be alive in this country and I look forward to every moment from Usain Bolt's win in the sprints to the last agonising moments of the marathon; from the dressage competition to the high dives; from the cycling to the wrestling.

I will also look forward to the balance sheets later which may explain why the Olympics are so easy to pay for and why the mighty Rangers football club are close to broke.