6 Apr 2016

Rangers back in Premiership

9:13 am on 6 April 2016

Glasgow Rangers have ended a four-year exile from the Scottish football Premiership when they beat Dumbarton 1-0 at Ibrox to clinch the Championship title and automatic promotion.

Ibrox - the home of Rangers

Ibrox - the home of Rangers Photo: Photosport

The victory puts Rangers 17 points clear at the top of the table, out of the reach of Falkirk and Hibernian.

The victory means they will be back among the elite next season after being demoted to the lowest, fourth-tier of the Scottish League for financial irregularities in 2012 which left the Glasgow club 260 million dollars in debt.

The club was liquidated and reformed since when Rangers, who have won a world record 54 domestic league titles, have climbed back to the top flight with three promotions in four years, including claiming the one automatic place this season.

Forced to re-enter the Scottish professional football pyramid in the bottom tier, Rangers, under then manager Ally McCoist and controlled by a consortium led by Charles Green, found life in League Two more testing than many imagined.

Despite boasting several players of proven Premiership pedigree, Rangers suffered humiliating defeats to the likes of Stirling Albion, Annan and Peterhead. They did, however, gain promotion by winning the league in some comfort, by 24 points.

League One was clinched in even more emphatic style the following season, the Glasgow side winning 33 of their 36 matches and drawing the other three to romp to the title with a cushion of 39-points over second-placed Dunfermline Athletic.

Now only one promotion away from a return to the Premiership, Rangers' route back to the top flight was complicated by the relegation to the Championship of Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian.

Hearts surged to the Championship title last season ahead of Hibs, with Rangers only managing a third-placed finish amid more financial concerns off the field.

This still offered a shot at promotion via the playoffs, but despite victory over Hibs, Rangers, with Stuart McCall in the dugout in place of the departed McCoist, were beaten over two legs of the play-off final by Premiership side Motherwell.

Thus the 54-times champions of Scotland were consigned to another season outside the top league.

A change of ownership, with the club now in the hands of South Africa-based businessman Dave King, led to the arrival of former Brentford manager Mark Warburton in the summer of 2015 and heralded an upturn in Rangers' fortunes.

A run of 11 straight wins to start the Championship campaign laid the foundation for promotion and, although a dip in form leading up to Christmas left the door ajar for Falkirk and Hibs to mount a challenge, a run of just one defeat in 19 matches has led to Rangers sealing a return to the Scottish Premiership.