|First meeting||28 May 1888|
Celtic 5–2 Rangers
|Latest meeting||2 May 2021|
Rangers 4–1 Celtic
|Most wins||Rangers (166)|
|Largest victory||Celtic 7–1 Rangers|
(19 October 1957)
The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both based in Glasgow. The two clubs are by far the most successful and popular in Scotland, and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture. It has reflected, and contributed to, political, social, and religious division and sectarianism in Scotland. As a result, the fixture has had an enduring appeal around the world.
Between them the two clubs have won 106 Scottish League championships (Rangers with 55 and Celtic with 51), 73 Scottish Cups (Celtic with 40 and Rangers with 33), and 46 Scottish League Cups (Rangers with 27 and Celtic with 19). Interruptions to their ascendancy have occurred rarely, most recently with the challenge of the New Firm of Aberdeen and Dundee United in the first half of the 1980s. Beginning with the 1985–86 season, one half of the Old Firm has won the Scottish League every season and in all but one of seventeen seasons between 1995–96 and 2011–12, both clubs finished in the top two places. In the early 2010s, Rangers endured financial difficulties, and its holding company was liquidated in 2012. Subsequently, the team had to apply for entry to the bottom (fourth) tier of the Scottish league, climbing to the top division in four seasons and winning the title again in 2020–21 (Celtic were champions in each of the intervening nine campaigns but failed to claim the tenth which would have beaten a record set by them in the 1960s/70s and matched by Rangers in the 1980s/90s).
Celtic and Rangers have played each other 425 times in major competitions: Rangers have won 166 matches, Celtic 159 matches, and 100 ended in a draw.
The clubs have large fan bases around Glasgow and Scotland and have supporters clubs in most towns throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland and in many cities around the world. In 2005 the presence of Rangers and Celtic was estimated to be worth £120 million to the Scottish economy each year.
The origin of the term is unclear but may derive from the two clubs' initial match in which the commentators referred to the teams as "like two old, firm friends", or alternatively may stem from a satirical cartoon published in a magazine prior to the 1904 Scottish Cup Final between the sides, depicting an elderly man with a sandwich board reading "Patronise The Old Firm: Rangers, Celtic Ltd", highlighting the mutual commercial benefits of their meetings. The name may also be a reference to these two teams being among the original eleven members of the Scottish Football League formed in 1890.
At the turn of the 21st century, the two clubs jointly registered the 'Old Firm' term at the Intellectual Property Office; it was confirmed this was still being renewed as a trademark in 2021.
Main article: Sectarianism in Glasgow
"When I was growing up, I went to a Catholic school, and there wasn’t one Rangers fan in the entire school," said Neil McGarvey, 43, who is involved in the operation of Kerrydale Street, a popular Celtic fan Web site. "It’s much more mixed now – my boy goes to a Catholic school, and there are maybe 5 percent Rangers fans now."— The New York Times, 2012
The competition between the two clubs had roots in more than just a simple sporting rivalry. It has as much to do with Northern Ireland as Scotland and this can be seen in the flags, cultural symbols, and emblems of both clubs. It was infused with a series of complex disputes, sometimes centred on religion (Protestant and Catholic), Northern Ireland-related politics (Loyalist and Republican), national identity (British or Irish Scots), and social ideology (Conservatism and Socialism).
Another primary contributor to the intensity of the rivalry in the west of Scotland was that Rangers supporters are historically native Scots and Ulster Scots, and Celtic supporters are historically Irish-Scots. Although the confrontation between the two sets of supporters was often labelled as 'Sectarianism', 'Native-Immigrant tension' was an equally accurate catalyst for hostility between the two teams' supports in Scotland. Rangers' traditional support was largely from the Protestant community, and for decades the club had an unwritten rule whereby they would not knowingly sign a player of the Catholic faith. The policy was decried by Graeme Souness when he became manager, and he brought ex-Celtic forward Mo Johnston to the club in a very public move away from the practice, which no longer continues. Celtic's support was largely from those of Irish Roman Catholic backgrounds and while the club practiced no exclusion of Protestants and signed many of them to play for the team, there was a pro-Catholic mindset among some of the employees. One effect is that Scottish flags are rarer than might be expected amongst both sets of supporters; Celtic fans are more likely to wave the Irish tricolour while Rangers fans tend to wave the Union Jack.
Celtic were founded in 1887 on the promise that the club would deliver much-needed money and resources to a poverty-stricken Irish Catholic population in East Glasgow (although records indicated little of this income reached those causes) and quickly drew large crowds at their matches, becoming a symbol for that section of the local population which were marginalised in other areas of society and had previously shown little interest in the emerging sport. Rangers had been founded 15 years earlier in 1872 and had no particular religious leanings in their early decades, indeed they were described by the press as friends of Celtic in match reports at the turn of the 20th century. In that era Rangers had won three successive championships and expanded their stadium at great expense, only for one of the new wooden stands to collapse during a Scotland v England fixture in April 1902, killing 25 and injuring hundreds of others. The disaster forced the club to rebuild Ibrox for a second time and financed this by selling off their best players, with Celtic, in particular, taking advantage of the weakness to win six successive titles between 1905 and 1910 before Rangers returned to their previous strength. The sporting side of the rivalry was now established, with their meetings providing considerable financial benefit as seen in the Scottish Cup finals of 1904 (which appears to be the origin of the 'Old Firm' term) and 1909 when they drew twice and a further replay was ordered, with supporters of both teams deciding to riot on the assumption the results were being fixed to make more money – amid multiple injuries and considerable damage to Hampden Park, the trophy was withheld.
The political aspect of the feud also developed in that period, with perhaps the most significant development occurring in 1912 when Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff (a company which already had anti-Catholic hiring practices) set up a new yard in Glasgow due to instability in Ireland. Hundreds of Ulster Protestant workers, many of Scottish descent, also made the move, and they adopted Rangers – the closest large club to the Govan yard – as their new team. Other events such as World War I and the Easter Rising contributed to the club being adopted as a symbol of the Scottish establishment and of British Unionism in the face of Irish Catholic rebellion personified by the success of Celtic and from that time on, many across Scotland and Northern Ireland (and the diaspora of those communities in England, North America and elsewhere) became supporters of Rangers or Celtic over and above their local teams according to their own political and religious leanings, including polarised attitudes towards 'The Troubles'.
Nevertheless, this dividing line seems to be blurred in 21st century Glasgow: religious adherence, in general, is falling, marriages between Protestants and Catholics have never been higher and the old certainties – the Rangers supporter voting Conservative and the Celtic supporter voting Labour — are no longer in evidence. In 2005 both Celtic and Rangers joined a project to tackle bigotry and sectarianism in sport, but there was little change in the behaviour and subsequent prosecution of the fans.
The majority of Rangers and Celtic supporters do not get involved in sectarianism, but serious incidents do occur with a tendency for the actions of a minority to dominate the headlines. The Old Firm rivalry fuelled many assaults on derby days, and some deaths in the past have been directly related to the aftermath of Old Firm matches. An activist group that monitors sectarian activity in Glasgow has reported that on Old Firm weekends, violent attacks increase ninefold over normal levels. An increase in domestic abuse can also be attributed to Old Firm fixtures.
A freedom of information request found that Strathclyde Police incurred costs of £2.4 million for the seven derbies played during the 2010–11 season, with the clubs only contributing £0.3 million towards that. Other high-profile games involving Rangers and Celtic incurred much lower costs. The reason for the disparity in costs and the contribution made is that Strathclyde Police had to increase its activity elsewhere in Glasgow and beyond, while the clubs were only responsible for costs incurred in the vicinity of their stadium. In a period between April 2016 and December 2017, when nine matches were contested (three each at the club's stadiums and three at Hampden), more than £550,000 was spent by Celtic, Rangers, the SFA and the SPFL on policing inside the stadium alone. Rangers paid more than Celtic despite having a smaller capacity and a plan for the away support at Ibrox which required less of a 'human barricade' of officers to separate the rival supporters than was necessary at Celtic Park.
In 2015, former Rangers player Brian Laudrup said that the Old Firm topped all of the rivalries he had played in, which included the Milan derby and the Fiorentina-Juventus meetings in Italy; ex-Celtic striker Henrik Larsson, who experienced El Clásico in Spain and De Klassieker in the Netherlands, has made similar comments. Jim Bett, who had already played in Iceland prior to joining Rangers in the 1980s and thereafter moved to Belgium, stated that he declined an opportunity to return to the Ibrox club due to the sectarianism associated with life as a footballer in the west of Scotland, in contrast to his positive experiences living abroad.
Supporters of both clubs, when interviewed, have conceded that they do not particularly enjoy the intense atmosphere of Old Firm matches.
Hundreds of opposing fans fought an on-pitch battle in the aftermath of Celtic's 1–0 victory in the 1980 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden, fuelled by alcohol and armed with the cans and bottles. Despite previous instances of similar behaviour – less widespread and more speedily quelled, but still resulting in dozens of arrests – at the end of the 1965 Scottish League Cup Final, 1969 Scottish Cup Final and 1977 Scottish Cup Final between the same teams at the same venue, a senior police officer on duty at the time estimated the number of his colleagues inside the stadium in 1980 was barely into double figures, with almost all the estimated 400 police outside Hampden dealing with expected disorder issues, and perimeter fencing assumed sufficient to keep the fans off the pitch. This remains one of the worst invasions onto a football pitch ever reported, and was instrumental in alcohol being banned from all football grounds in Scotland, a situation which was still in place 40 years on.
In January 1994, Rangers chairman David Murray announced that Celtic fans had been banned from Ibrox due to repeated instances of vandalism to the stadium which Celtic refused to take financial responsibility for. Only one fixture, which ended 1–1, was played before the ban was rescinded (the Scottish Football League passed a resolution preventing clubs from taking that action in future).
There was serious fan disorder during an Old Firm match played on a Sunday evening in May 1999 at Celtic Park, with the usual tensions heightened by the fact that Rangers could clinch the league title with victory (and it became clear that they would do so from the early stages of the match). Several objects were thrown by Celtic fans, one of which struck referee Hugh Dallas forcing the game to be stopped while he received medical treatment. With many of those in attendance having spent a full weekend drinking alcohol prior to the event, at least four Celtic fans invaded the field of play to confront Dallas during the game, and more missiles were thrown at players on the pitch after the game. Since the events of that day, Old Firm league matches have normally been played in the early afternoon and the possibility of an Old Firm title decider has been deliberately avoided.
Over the hundreds of matches played between the rivals, players and staff have been involved in many incidents beyond the usual bad tackles and red cards commonly associated with derby matches around the world; in the modern age of video footage, such incidents are more frequently observed, reviewed and scrutinised. In 1987, four players were charged by the police with breach of the peace for their conduct during a match at Ibrox and had to appear at court, with two (Chris Woods and Terry Butcher) convicted and fined. While warming up on the touchline at Celtic Park in January 1998, Rangers' Paul Gascoigne was caught on television reacting to verbal abuse from the stands by briefly miming the playing of a flute (representing "The Sash" and the typical repertoire of songs on an Orange walk, considered an offensive gesture by Celtic's many supporters of an Irish Catholic background). Gascoigne, who had pleaded his ignorance of the situation after he made the same gesture in a friendly just after joining Rangers in 1995 and had been sent off on his last visit to Celtic six weeks earlier, was fined for the provocative act and left the club later that year. He has stated that he later received threats via telephone calls from persons purporting to be members of the IRA over his behaviour.
In 2000, after being sent off during an Old Firm match, Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson was involved in a violent brawl with Celtic fans at a hotel later in the same evening; a year later, Ferguson (by now club captain) was sitting in the stand when he appeared to throw ice packs towards the Celtic dugout after Rangers conceded a late goal, however the referee missed the incident and no action was taken. In that same match, a Celtic supporter was photographed making an 'aeroplane' gesture towards American Rangers player Claudio Reyna a few weeks after the September 11 attacks. A 2004 match at Ibrox which "descended into even more mayhem and madness than usual" led to a police enquiry over the conduct of the players and staff.
In February 2006, Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc was cautioned by the police for gestures he made to Rangers supporters during a match at Ibrox; six months later, it was clarified that this was for "Conduct which appears to incite disorder" rather than simply making the sign of the cross as he entered his area, as some had thought. He also blessed himself in the fixture in December of that year, annoying Rangers fans who saw it as a provocative act, although the police stated that no offence had been committed. Boruc, who became known as the 'Holy Goalie' for his overt displays of his Catholic faith, escaped personal punishment in 2008 for displaying a t-shirt with the slogan "God bless the Pope" and an image of fellow Pole Pope John Paul II after an Old Firm win at Parkhead in April 2008, although Celtic faced scrutiny from FIFA as it was an unauthorised garment under their regulations on slogans. He was fined £500 and warned for (non-religious) gestures made towards Rangers fans in a defeat at the same venue in September of the same year. Prior to an international match between Northern Ireland and Poland in 2009, graffiti of a threatening nature mentioning Boruc appeared on walls in a Rangers-supporting area of Belfast.
In March 2011, an angry exchange took place on the touchline at Celtic Park between Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers assistant coach Ally McCoist, requiring police officers to separate them, at the end of a match in which three players had also been dismissed; again captured on live television footage, the incident resulted in both men being banned from the dugout for misconduct. A 'crisis meeting' was convened involving the clubs, the Scottish Government and Strathclyde Police some days later regarding the trend of violence among supporters away from the pitch increasing on Old Firm matchdays and concerns that incidents during the matches was a factor. The incident occurred during the tense environment of a season where seven Old Firm matches took place (including a League Cup final and a fight for the title eventually won by Rangers by one point).
During the 2018 close season, Rangers announced that they would be cutting the ticket allocation for Celtic fans at Ibrox from around 7,000 (the entire Broomloan Stand) to 800, situated in a corner where smaller travelling supports were usually accommodated, following a fan survey backing the proposal as well as an upturn in season ticket sales. In response, Celtic indicated they would do likewise, bringing to an end a long tradition of both clubs offering a generous proportion of their stadium to their rivals. The development was criticised by former players as diluting the famous atmosphere of the fixtures, although others praised the extra income the change would likely generate.
In the first Old Firm fixture at Celtic Park under the new arrangements, many more home fans were able to attend but segregation was still required outside the stadium to keep them apart from the smaller away support. In the minutes before kick-off, the main access road was closed as part of the amended segregation plan and thousands of spectators approaching Celtic Park from both directions were directed to the narrow enclosed walkway below the North Stand to reach the opposite side of the stadium, along with those trying to enter that stand via turnstiles. The volume of people in the walkway area built up to the extent that many were unable to move forward with more approaching from either side, and crushing was experienced in the congested area for some minutes, causing panic, with several fans scaling a high perimeter wall and fence to escape; one of them fell from the wall and later required hospital treatment, while four other persons were treated at the scene as the situation subsided. Those involved expressed their anger afterwards regarding the arrangements and the policing at the stadium on the day, with Celtic issuing an official apology to the fans.
From 1 March 2012, the police were given more powers to act against Sectarian acts at football matches through the new Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. The law was designed specifically to target the Old Firm rivalry by reducing the religious hatred between the two opposing sides. The Act created two new offences, one covering behaviour in and around football matches and the other related to posts sent by either electronic or postal methods. People convicted under the act could face up to five years imprisonment, a much higher sentence than was previously in place. It was hoped it would make it much easier to prosecute this misbehaviour, which had proved difficult in the past.
In March 2013 a protest by a number of Celtic fans took place to protest against the new laws and the subsequent match bans that a number of fans had received for breaking the Act. The protesters, known as the "Green Brigade," had marched without police authority and the event was therefore cracked down on by local authorities resulting in thirteen arrests. The protestors claim that the police instigated the trouble that occurred at this march. Following the march, media coverage reported that the fans were growing further apart from the police than ever before. They claimed that the trust the fans hold with the police to work in cooperation with them is falling dramatically. The march that took place resulted in a number of complaints from both Celtic and Rangers fan groups that they were harassed by the police.
Labour MSP James Kelly introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill in June 2017. Kelly had described the 2012 legislation as having "completely failed to tackle sectarianism" and as "illiberal" which "unfairly targets football fans", and was "condemned by legal experts, human rights organisations and equality groups". Professor Sir Tom Devine previously spoke of the Football Act as "the most illiberal and counterproductive act passed by our young Parliament to date" and a "stain on the reputation of the Scottish legal system for fair dealing". Much was made of when a Sheriff described the law as "mince".
After passing through the parliamentary process in early 2018, on 19 April the bill received royal assent, repealing the 2012 Act.
Glasgow-based brewers Tennent's were the primary commercial sponsor of both teams for several years; any local business that only sponsored one would likely lose half its customers. Previously, glazing company CR Smith (who later had a deal with Celtic alone), communications firm NTL and English brewers Carling had also sponsored both clubs.
In 2012, Rangers suffered a financial collapse leading to the liquidation of the commercial entity; however, the sporting assets were acquired by a new company which allowed its playing membership to continue unbroken (albeit in the lowest division of the Scottish football league system). As a result, this would mean that for the first time in 120 years, no fixtures would be played between Rangers and Celtic.
The status of the Old Firm was also challenged, following the logic that since Rangers 'died' during the events of 2012, the rivalry also expired and any matches played since that point would be between Celtic and a 'new Rangers', albeit playing at the same stadium, in the same colours, with the same supporters and some of the same players as before. Adherents to this point of view refer to the club disparagingly as Sevco (the original name of the post-2012 holding company), and Rangers supporters as 'zombies' or 'the undead'. This difference of opinion became a new factor in the rivalry.
Some Celtic supporters were particularly vociferous in their assertions, to the extent of a group paying for a full-page newspaper advertisement in January 2015 announcing that their club would soon play its first fixture against the new Rangers.
It is regarded as a continuation of the same club by the SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster; external governing bodies such as UEFA, the European Club Association and FIFA have never formally stated their position on Rangers but have issued general remarks about the continuation of a club's history when controlled by a new company.
In 2013 numerous complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over official marketing communications from Rangers which stated they were "Scotland’s most successful club", with this claim being disputed as the complainants declared the club had only been in existence for one year. Having considered the evidence including advice from UEFA, the ASA did not uphold the complaints.
In July 2012, a large banner was displayed at Celtic Park during a game showing a cartoon zombie representing Rangers rising from the grave before being shot by a sniper, drawing criticism due to the gunman resembling a paramilitary from the Northern Ireland conflict, although Celtic escaped formal punishment over the matter. Celtic fan groups have continued to display banners claiming Rangers are 'dead'.
Celtic and their followers also became involved in other legal proceedings relating to Rangers, including the outcome of the long-running EBT investigation.
It took Rangers four years to climb through the lower divisions and re-take their place in the Scottish Premiership for the 2016–17 season; in the interim only two cup semi-finals were played between the clubs and Celtic won all four league titles by significant margins (never less than 15 points). The rivalry resumed in earnest by way of six matches during 2016–17, with Celtic eliminating Rangers from both cups at the semi-final stage on the way to lifting the trophies and emerging victorious in three of the matches in the league championship, which they also won without losing a game to secure their sixth successive title and a domestic treble. The 2017–18 season was much the same: Celtic won three of the Old Firm league fixtures plus a Scottish Cup semi-final meeting and lifted all three domestic trophies; Rangers finished third, behind Aberdeen.
Celtic won a third successive treble in 2018–19, although Rangers did finally record victories over them in the league with a 1–0 and 2–0 wins in the two fixtures at Ibrox. Rangers were runners-up in the league, their highest position since 2012. In December 2019, Rangers beat Celtic 2–1 at Celtic Park, their first away win since October 2010; that 2019–20 season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, with Celtic declared champions having held a commanding lead when matches stopped in March 2020.
Initial signs that the 2020–21 Scottish Premiership (played almost entirely in empty stadiums due to the pandemic) would be closely fought proved inaccurate as Rangers produced consistent and defensively-strong performances, in contrast to Celtic who dropped goals and points regularly as the season progressed (although they did set a new record with a 'quadruple treble', winning twelve domestic trophies in succession). Rangers won both Old Firm fixtures and were confirmed as champions – the 55th title in their history and the first since 2011 – by early March 2021 even before the often-pivotal third fixture against Celtic was played, ending the Hoops' chances of a record-breaking tenth successive championship.
|51||Scottish first-tier League Championships||55|
|19||Scottish League Cup||27|
|European and Worldwide|
|1||UEFA Champions League/European Cup||—|
|—||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||1|
See also: Category:Old Firm matches
There are a number of matches between the two clubs that are not recognised in the official records, such as their first competitive meeting in the 1888–89 Glasgow Cup, in which Celtic defeated Rangers 6–1.
|Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup[b]||1892–1961||46||23||16||7[c]|
|Glasgow League / Inter City League[d]||1895–1906||19||5||10||4|
|Glasgow International Exhibition Cup||1901||1||1||0||0|
|British League Cup||1902||1||0||1||0|
|Lord Provost's Cup||1921||1||1||0||0|
In the First World War, the Scottish Cup was suspended. Among the unofficial competitions which were held for fundraising purposes was the Navy and Army War Fund Shield, during which Rangers defeated Celtic in December 1914.
During the Second World War, the Scottish Football League and Scottish Cup were suspended and in their place unofficial regional league competitions were set up (these were dominated by Rangers). One of these games was a New Year's Day derby in 1943 which Rangers won 8–1.
|War Fund Shield||1914||1||1||0||0|
|Emergency Western League||1939–1940||2||1||0||1|
|Southern League Cup||1940–1946||4||4||0||0|
* Four or more goals difference between the teams. Only includes the league and two major cups; other big winning margins were recorded in minor competitions such as the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup.
The ferocity of the rivalry has made it rare for a player to represent both teams during his career. Players who played for both sides of the Old Firm included Alec Bennett, Scott Duncan, Robert Campbell, and George Livingstone, who all played before the intensity of the rivalry had started prior to 1912, as well as later players: Alfie Conn, Maurice Johnston, Kenny Miller, Steven Pressley and Mark Brown (none of whom moved directly between the two clubs).
Several sets of brothers have played in the Old Firm match, although not necessarily together:
Those who were teammates in the fixture include:
In the 1890s, Tom Dunbar spent a season with Rangers between two spells for Celtic, but he and his brother Mick (see above) never played against each other in the fixture. In the 1980s, the McAdam brothers played on opposite sides, and directly against one another, on several occasions: defender Tom for Celtic and forward Colin for Rangers.
Father-and-son pairs who have been selected include:
Jimmy Simpson was a Rangers captain in the 1930s, while his son Ronnie Simpson was Celtic's European Cup-winning goalkeeper in 1967.
As of end of the 2018–19 season.
As of end of the 2018–19 season.
As of 2 May 2021. Minimum 10 Old Firm games as manager.
|Name||Team||Years||Overall Record||League Record|
|Games||Wins||Win %||Games||Wins||Win %|
The stadium attendance records for Rangers' Ibrox (118,567, January 1939) and Celtic's Celtic Park (at least 83,500, January 1938) were both set at Old Firm matches; however while the Ibrox figure is the Rangers club record (and the record for any domestic league match in the United Kingdom), Celtic's biggest 'home' attendance was the 1969–70 European Cup semi-final with Leeds United, moved to the larger Hampden Park due to the anticipated interest: the crowd of 136,505 is a record for any match in European international club competitions.
Hampden, Scotland's national stadium and home of Queen's Park, is situated roughly an equal distance from Ibrox and Celtic Park in Glasgow. Due to the frequency of the two teams appearing in semi-finals and finals held there (often facing one another), its West and East stands are always allocated to the same club and are informally known as the Rangers end and Celtic end respectively. That stadium, once the largest in the world, attracted the largest Old Firm attendance of all time with 132,870 at the 1969 Scottish Cup Final (it is not the record for the competition, with 147,365 having attended the 1937 final which also featured Celtic, versus Aberdeen). The record Scottish League Cup final attendance (107,609; October 1965) was an Old Firm affair, although the tournament record was set in 1947 when Rangers overcame Hibernian in a semi-final before 123,830.
The 1971 Ibrox disaster – in which 66 Rangers supporters died in a crush on an exterior stairway – occurred at the end of an Old Firm match, although the identity of the opposition was not a factor in the incident other than having drawn a large crowd of at least 75,000 to the event.
Since redevelopments completed in the 1990s, all three venues are all-seater with much smaller capacities of between 50,000 and 60,000, meaning the above records may never be beaten – the attendance of 72,069 at 'old style' Hampden for the Old Firm 1989 Scottish Cup Final has become a landmark figure as no match in Scotland has come close to matching it since.
When compared to other clubs in Scotland, the Old Firm maintain considerably higher attendances; Celtic's recorded crowds tend to be higher than Rangers as their stadium holds approximately 9,000 more seats. Both clubs (among others) have been accused of inflating their attendance figures by counting all season ticket holders in the crowd when many have not actually attended the match in question, with the accurate figures reported to the police for crowd control being lower.
The average attendances of both Old Firm clubs are regularly within the top twenty across Europe. A study of stadium attendance figures from 2013 to 2018 by the CIES Football Observatory ranked Celtic at 16th in the world during that period and Rangers at 18th, even though Rangers had been playing at lower levels for three of those five seasons. Celtic's proportion of the distribution of spectators in Scotland was 36.5%, the highest of any club in the leagues examined, with Rangers' 27.4% placing them 8th overall for national audience share.
The intensity of the rivalry is fuelled by the clubs' historical duopoly in Scottish football, with most meetings between them being pivotal in deciding the destiny of a championship or cup and anything but a title-winning season seen as a major disappointment, particularly as it would usually mean 'the enemy' has won the trophy.
See also: List of Scottish football champions
Statistics show that Rangers and Celtic have been by far the most successful clubs involved in the Scottish Football League since its formation in 1890. The pair were the only participants in every edition of the competition until 2012, when Rangers were removed from the top tier for economic reasons; they returned for the 2016–17 season. Of the 124 championships played, 106 (85%) have been won by one of the Old Firm with Rangers slightly ahead on 55 titles to Celtic's 51, and 19 between ten other clubs (including a shared title between Rangers and Dumbarton).
Although there have been brief periods when silverware went elsewhere, there have also been long spells of domination by each Old Firm club, the 9-in-a-row championship was first set by Celtic between 1966 and 1974, then by Rangers between 1989 and 1997, and again by Celtic between 2012 and 2020.
On just five occasions since 1891 have neither of the Glasgow giants been the league winner nor the runner-up. This includes 1964–65, the only season in which both Rangers and Celtic failed to finish in the top three places. The Old Firm have finished 1st and 2nd 50 times overall. Between the resurgence of Celtic in the mid-1990s and the liquidation of Rangers in 2012, '1–2' finishes were recorded in all but one of 17 SPL-era seasons.
The longest sequence without an Old Firm title is three years between 1983 and 1985, while the longest unbroken run of championships between the two clubs began immediately afterwards and is ongoing: 35 seasons and counting since 1986 (overtaking a previous sequence of 27 years between 1905 and 1931).
As of end of the 2020–21 season. Runners-up in (parentheses)
|One club 1st, other 2nd||26 (25)||25 (26)||51||41%|
|One club 1st, other not top 2||25||30||55||44%|
|Title wins by Old Firm club||51||55||106||85%|
|One club 2nd, other not top 2||N/A (7)||N/A (6)||13||11%|
|Neither club in top 2||N/A||N/A||5||4%|
|Title wins by another club||N/A||N/A||18*||15%|
|Totals||51 (32)||55 (32)||124||100%|
See also: List of Scottish Cup finals
Although the initial Scottish Cup was played in 1874, 15 years before Celtic were formed, they have still won the competition more than any other club - 40 times, plus 18 runners-up - with Rangers not far behind on 33 (also 18 runners-up).
There have been 14 Old Firm finals, while there have been just 39 finals involving neither Rangers or Celtic, 17 of which were in the 1800s.
The longest run of Old Firm wins is 11 between 1971 and 1981.
As of end of the 2019–20 season. Runners-up in (parentheses)
|Old Firm final||7 (7)||7 (7)||14||10%|
|One winner, other not involved||33||26||59||45%|
|Cup wins by an Old Firm club||40||33||73||55%|
|One runner-up, other not involved||N/A (11)||N/A (11)||22||16%|
|neither club involved||N/A||N/A||39||29%|
|Cup wins by another club||N/A||N/A||61||45%|
|Totals||40 (18)||33 (18)||134||100%|
See also: List of Scottish League Cup finals
The Scottish League Cup has been contested 74 times since 1946–47. Rangers are dominant in terms of wins with 27 from 35 finals, with Celtic some way behind on 19 wins from 34 finals. 13 other clubs share 28 wins between them. 15 of its finals have been Old Firm occasions, while 20 featured neither of them.
The longest run of Old Firm wins is 8 between 1964 and 1971.
As of end of the 2019–20 competition which concluded in December 2019. Runners-up in (parentheses)
|Old Firm final||6 (9)||9 (6)||15||20%|
|One winner, other not involved||13||18||31||42%|
|Cup wins by an Old Firm club||19||27||46||62%|
|One runner-up, other not involved||N/A (6)||N/A (2)||8||11%|
|neither club involved||N/A||N/A||20||27%|
|Cup wins by another club||N/A||N/A||28||38%|
|Totals||19 (15)||27 (8)||74||100%|
The Rangers–Celtic rivalry in women's football has existed only in the 21st century, with Rangers W.F.C. having formed in 2008, one year after the Celtic F.C. women's team. The footballing environment is also very different, with a third team in the city – Glasgow City F.C. – not merely competing in the same division as the more famous names and attracting a similar fanbase, but dominant over them in the domestic league, with twelve consecutive titles up to 2018. Rangers have only finished above Celtic once (2014), and neither club has won the Scottish Women's Cup; Celtic have lifted the SWPL Cup on one occasion, in 2010.
Fixtures between the teams generate extra media interest due to their association with the parent clubs and are referred to as Old Firm matches as a result. On 13 April 2016, Celtic women's team played their first competitive match at Celtic Park, marking the occasion with a 5–1 victory over Rangers. During the 2019 season, sisters Kodie and Brogan Hay played on opposite sides in the fixture. That same year, both clubs stated they would be increasing their investment in women's football and offering professional contracts to players in an attempt to challenge Glasgow City's dominance.
Old Firm games are absolutely toxic; they have fantastic atmospheres but are fuelled entirely by hate," Joyce, a Celtic fan, told Al Jazeera. "They are not nice places to be. You don't leave them feeling elated, you leave them feeling relieved.
For David Edgar, a Rangers supporter of many years standing, the pre-match tension is never diminished. "Nobody enjoys going to Old Firm games. It's a really strange, queasy sensation. You can't sleep, you try to force some food down, the heart's beating, your hands are shaking, you're twitchy, you're nervous, you're talking through your arse."
Once inside, the disparity in terms of support was even more evident, with the Spanish followers occupying the whole of what is traditionally regarded as the Rangers end of the ground. Fans of Bayer filled less than half of the Celtic end, but they did not let that stop themselves being heard
It is also incredibly galling to fans that the so-called national stadium should have two ends unofficially accepted by the governing bodies as the Celtic and Rangers ends. It's noticeable that both Glasgow clubs get these ends regardless of the opposition in any final.