By Jason Jones

17th Jan, 2020 | 4:01pm

Ex-Hoop makes Rangers claim about Old Firm rivalry that Celtic fans will 'hate'

Former Celtic striker Scott McDonald has claimed that the Scottish game is much better off having Rangers at their best – even if Hoops fans hate him for saying it.

The Gers currently sit two points behind their bitter rivals in the Scottish Premiership, but have a crucial game in hand over the Bhoys.

Steven Gerrard’s men are chasing a first league title since 2011, the year after McDonald left Glasgow for Middlesbrough.

And even though he still wants to see his former club vanquish the Bears, the Australian is in little doubt as to how important the Old Firm rivalry is for the Scottish game.

Speaking to the Daily Record, he said: “Celtic fans will hate me for saying this – and I completely understand why – but it’s really healthy for the Scottish game to have a genuine title race again.

“It’s healthy for the league, for viewing figures around the world and hopefully it will bring stronger revenue to the game in Scotland.

“Look, I want Celtic to make it nine in a row as badly as any other Celtic supporter but it’s not been the same without doing it against a competitive Rangers. There’s not a feeling like it.”

Is MacDonald right? 

Of course he is.

The Hoops can go on all they like about treble trebles and nine-in-a-row, but in their heart of hearts, they will know that had Rangers not suffered liquidation back at the start of last decade, they wouldn’t have any of those achievements to their name.

At the very least, if they did, it would be worth an awful lot more.

For years, the allegation labelled at Scottish football was that it was only a two-horse race, with little in the way of serious competition.

Take one of those horses out of the equation and suddenly you’ve got a cakewalk year in, year out.

Regardless of partisan loyalties or entrenched rivalries, nobody can look at that and argue it’s healthier than what we have now – a proper title race on our hands.

In other news, ‘Bubbling away’ – Gerrard reveals fresh contract talks with key Rangers ace.