Rangers favourite Willie Henderson insists the Ibrox club should not break the bank trying to catch Celtic – even if it hands the Parkhead side 10-in-a-row.
The former Light Blues winger reckons his old side are years behind their bitter rivals, both on and off the park.
But Henderson – who spent the latter part of his Gers career watching Jock Stein’s famous Hoops outfit rack up the majority of their record-breaking run of nine straight Scottish titles – believes the future of his former club is more important than bragging rights.
And for that reason he says Rangers should manage their finances with caution.
If they do recklessly splash out in a bid to catch their city neighbours, then Henderson claims they will risk repeating the mistakes which led the club to financial meltdown five years ago.
The 72-year-old said: “Celtic are just two or three years in front of the club financially and on the playing side as well.
“That’s tough to see, as you never want Celtic to be above you. But that’s the way it is. I didn’t think it would be an easy change for Rangers [on their return to the Ladbrokes Premiership this season]. There’s been a lot of money spent in various ways.
“I know there’s not been enough money spent on the pitch, however, there has been other things off the pitch which have had to be attended to as well, so I think we are heading in the right direction.
“I know it might be a bit slower than what people wanted but we will just have to accept that and look forward to next year.
“Rangers is an institution and that institution has to be looked after to make sure it doesn’t end up in the financial position it was in before and very near meant the closing of the club.
“Celtic are going for 10-in-a-row and we’d always want to stop that. Ten straight titles is a big figure. But the main thing is for Rangers to be right as a football club both on the field and off it.”
The gap spanning the Old Firm divide has never been wider, with Rangers currently a staggering 19 points behind Brendan Rodgers’ rampant table-toppers.
But Henderson – who won two league titles, four Scottish Cups and a pair of League Cups during a 12-year Ibrox stint which began in 1960 – reckons for once, Gers can take satisfaction from finishing runners-up to their old foes.
“Celtic were always big favourites to win the league and things haven’t turned out much differently to how people thought it would go,” he said.
“If Rangers finish second this year – and I wouldn’t normally say this – it would be a successful season.”
Ibrox boss Mark Warburton has already kicked off his January transfer business, with Bournemouth midfielder Emerson Hyndman signed on a six-month loan deal.
Arsenal’s Jon Toral should complete a similar move on Thursday after flying into Glasgow on Tuesday night for talks.
The Light Blues faithful will be hoping they work out better than the summer arrivals. Warburton added 11 players to his squad at the start of the campaign but few have made a major impact, with his marquee capture Joey Barton axed after a spectacular fall-out with the manager.
But this month’s new faces are unlikely to appease supporters hoping to see a longer-term view applied to recruitment, especially given Celtic’s current dominance.
However, Henderson said: “That’s the market Rangers are in. We really have to maintain Rangers’ progress off the field because financially at one stage we were a mess.
“But I don’t think we’re as bad as that now. It’s important we have a good team on the pitch but it has to be a team that is financially possible for Rangers to maintain.
“Hindsight is a great thing but the Joey Barton signing, I really would have questioned that. At 34 years of age, to come up to Scotland and play in that league – I always thought that would be difficult.
“I also thought Niko Kranjcar was the wrong side of 30. I do like the look of the boy Jordan Rossiter. He’s been unlucky with injuries but I do think he will come good.”