The good news for Glasgow Rangers is the Scottish club has pocketed over $15 million for competing in the Champions League. The bad news is, after waiting 12 years to get back into the competition’s group stages, the club’s return has been nothing short of a nightmare.
After a 3-1 defeat by Ajax on Tuesday, Rangers finished the group stage with six defeats out of six and with a goal difference of minus 20 – it scored scored only twice and conceded 22 times.
Crotian club Dinamo Zagreb had previously held the worst record with zero points and a minus 19 goal difference, set in 2011.
“It’s a learning curve that we’ll have to take in our stride. Going forward, we’ll learn from this and we’ll only come back stronger,” Rangers captain James Tavernier told BT Sport after Tuesday’s defeat.
“It’s the finer details in these games when you’re playing against this quality of opposition.
“It was a proud moment for all of us to come into this competition but we’ve not done ourselves justice.
“We didn’t give the fans the minimum they wanted, we’ll own up to that and can only apologize.”
After its long awaited return to the group stages, Rangers was immediately up against it after being handed a very difficult draw.
It faced last year’s finalist Liverpool, 2019 semifinalist Ajax and a resurgent Napoli which may be the most inform team in Europe.
In truth, the gulf in class was evident in almost every match it played in this season’s competition but no more so than in its 7-1 home defeat by Liverpool in October – and that was after taking the lead.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst says his team were simply not on the same level as its opponents, both financially and in terms of quality.
“It’s very disappointing. We were all happy we came into the Champions League because we weren’t competing at this level in 12 years so that’s very positive,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“But on the other side, we were facing so many good teams. That’s a learning point.
“Of course we want to be involved again next year but we have to do better than we did this season. It’s been hard. These are facts.”
Rangers is currently second in the Scottish Premiership, four points behind rivals Celtic.
Despite its disappointment on the pitch in Europe, Rangers will benefit financially from its Champions League campaign.
All clubs to qualify for the group stages will earn $15.5 million from organizer UEFA this season, helping teams like Rangers to develop and become more competitive if it qualifies again next year.