By James Murray

21st Sep, 2023 | 1:10pm

BBC Sport journo moots unwanted distraction for Rangers ahead of EL showdown v Real Betis

Kheredine Idessane has questioned whether the Europa League is an unwanted distraction for Rangers this season.

Writing on the BBC Sport website on Wednesday (20 September, 10:07am), the journalist said he has a “sneaky suspicion” that the Gers would rather focus on beating Celtic to the SPFL title.

He posed the question if it’s a competition the Light Blues could “happily do without altogether” as they get their European campaign underway against Real Betis at Ibrox on Thursday (21 September).

“The last time Rangers played in the Europa League they very nearly took home the trophy,” said Idessane. “The arc of history since for the Ibrox side has been such that I wonder, on the eve of their latest campaign in the competition, whether it’s a tournament they could happily do without altogether?

“Yes, gate receipts and TV money from group-stage participation until at least Christmas are welcome. Yes, appetites are whetted by an upgrade from the relatively routine domestic diet to the tastier menus offered in Seville, Prague and Limassol. Yes, a good run in Europe can either compensate for domestic deficiencies or help keep standards high, given the better quality of player in group stages. 

“Having dropped out of the Champions League, however, after the humbling in Eindhoven, I have a sneaky suspicion Rangers would far rather just concentrate on stopping another Celtic title party next May.”

Europe is a must

While you can see where Idessane is coming from as Rangers need to improve their form domestically, the club simply have to be playing in Europe every season.

As he points out, the money that the competition can generate is a welcome bonus and that can go towards continuing to improve the squad.

Nobody ever thought the Gers would go all the way to the final in 2022 and, while that looks incredibly unlikely this season, you have to be in it to win it.

When it comes to recruitment, players will also be looking to see what competitions the club are – and have been – competing in this season, so it’s in their best interests to take it seriously.

It will be a difficult challenge against Real Betis, but it’s an opportunity to build up some confidence and for Michael Beale to prove that he can deliver when it counts.

In other Rangers news, Chris Jack has revealed two players will be out for at least a month.