FM Experiment | Old Firm In England | Celtic And Rangers In The Premier League

Football fans have long debated how the Old Firm of Celtic and Rangers would fare if they competed in England. So we decided to use Football Manager 2022 to settle the debate by moving both clubs into the Premier League.

We used the FM22 Editor to swap Celtic and Rangers with last season’s promoted sides Brentford and Watford, who we moved to the Scottish Premiership. We’ll then sim through the seasons to see how Celtic and Rangers perform, who they buy, if they can survive in the Premier League and whether they can collect any silverware south of the border.

Season 1: Celtic and Rangers join the Premier League

We jumped back into the save at Christmas 2021 and Ange Postocoglou had just been sacked and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s job was insecure! That’s because Celtic propped up the Premier League with just 5 points from 19 games, while Rangers were 18th with 9 – which was 9 points behind 17th place Leeds. The sides played out a 1-1 draw in the first-ever Premier League Old Firm derby in November and both had only scored 14 goals.

Both sides clearly started with very little money to work with as they didn’t make any significant signings through the first transfer window, hence being nowhere near up to Premier League standard. Celtic only signed Ben Osborn from Sheffield United in January, which was one player more than Rangers.

And, unsurprisingly, both teams were relegated at the end of the season. Rangers at least put up a fight, finishing on 28 points and above Norwich in 18th, as they won 7, drew 7 and took 19 points in the second half of the season. But Celtic were dismal as they amassed just 16 points, but did at least improve with 11 points from the second half of the campaign.

Rangers’ key man was Alfredo Morelos, who scored 14 in 30 league games, but their best performer was centre-back Connor Goldson with a 7.20 average rating. While for Celtic, Giorgos Giakoumis top-scored with 11 in 28 games followed by Kyogo Furuhashi with 9 and Callum McGregor was their best player with a 7.19 average rating and 7 assists.

Interestingly, van Bronckhorst managed to hold on to his job but finished the campaign ‘insecure,’ while Postecoglou was replaced by Celtic legend Henrik Larsson! Postecoglou wasn’t alone in being sacked, as Man UFC, Leeds, Spurs, Wolves and Leicester all ditched their managers during the first season.

While relegation was confirmed for the Old Firm, how did their replacements fare? Well, Brentford won the Scottish Premiership by 3 points from Watford, who finished 15 clear of Hibs. Ivan Toney was the top scorer with 19 goals and Moussa Sissoko was the best player in Scotland with a 7.48 average rating.

Now the big question is whether Celtic and Rangers can recover from relegation and fight their way back to the Premier League?

Season 2: Celtic and Rangers in the Championship

In a bid to gain promotion at the first attempt, Rangers spent £23m on the likes of Daniel Podence, Ken Sema and Tyrhys Dolan plus Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traoré on loan. While Celtic spent £36m on Josh Sargent, Sheyi Ojo, Mateusz Bogusz, Andrea Conti and Daniel Jebbison.

That saw Rangers again outperforming their rivals at the midway mark of the campaign, sitting 2nd in the Championship just 1 point behind leaders West Brom. While Celtic were down in 7th but only 1 point outside the playoff places. Celtic’s Furuhashi was the league’s top scorer with 16 goals but got sold to Premier League Luton Town for £6.25m in January.

Rangers maintained their form to win promotion, finishing the season in 2nd place level on points with champions Fulham. While Celtic climbed up into the playoff places to finish 5th and reached the playoff final, where they beat West Brom 2-0 with goals from Nicola Murru and Armando Broja. So the Old Firm were heading back to the Premier League! And, unsurprisingly, Larsson and van Bronckhorst were still in charge.

In Scotland, Brentford dominated the Premiership, winning it with 94 points and losing just twice all season. They finished a huge 29 clear of Watford, who were only 3 ahead of Aberdeen.

Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola quit Man City having won the title in both years so far. City obviously replaced him with Jurgen Klopp, so Liverpool went and hired Guardiola! Very strange!

Season 3: Celtic and Rangers back in the Premier League

Both Old Firm sides spent more money in an attempt to strengthen following promotion to the Premier League. Celtic blew £63m on Chris Mepham, David Brooks, Matvey Safonov, Keane Lewis-Potter and Rhian Brewster. While Rangers made some really interesting signings as they spent £40m on Thiago Almada, Manuel Ugarte, Eric Dier, Emanuel Emegha and Jorge. However, both were predicted to go straight back down again.

Celtic seemed to be outperforming those expectations as they sat in 14th and 5 points clear of relegation at the end of January. But Rangers were firmly bottom of the league with just 8 points from 23 games and sacked van Bronckhorst, who was replaced by Paulo Fonseca. Celtic further strengthened in January by bringing in Joe Rodon, Sime Vrsaljko and Matt Olosunde for £20m while Rangers brought in Rob Holding for £15 million.

That didn’t change the Gers’ fortunes as they finished bottom of the league with 22 points. However, their Glasgow rivals Celtic survived on the final day, finishing with 40 points in 15th place. Celtic’s main man was Sargent, who scored 13 in 38, while Lewis-Potter impressed with 9 goals, 10 assists and a 7.28 average rating. Rangers continued to rely on Morelos, who top-scored with 9 in 36 but look in major need of a rebuild. That said, Almada and Ugarte were their best performers and should be far too good for the Championship next season.

Brentford won a 3rd successive Scottish Premiership, again dominating with 92 points and only losing twice, but Watford improved to 79 points. And Toney was the top scorer for the 3rd year in a row.

Season 4: Celtic in the Prem, Rangers in the Championship

Safe in the Premier League for another year, Celtic spent £90m in the summer of 2024. In came some good young signings like Goncalo Ramos, Kaiky, Samuele Ricci, Alessandro Buongiorno and Japhet Tanganga. While down in the Championship, Rangers also did decent business by spending £20m on Leandro Trossard, Morgan Gibbs-White, Matteo Gabbia and Jannik Vestergard while bringing in £35m, including selling Glen Kamara to Fulham for £26.5m.

That spending didn’t overly help Celtic as they sat 16th on 22 points after the January transfer window, in which their only signing was Dominic Solanke for £7.25m from Leeds. But they were 4 points clear of relegation after 25 games. Rangers, on the other hand, looked good for promotion as they were 2nd on 65 points, 6 ahead of 3rd-place Reading and 3 behind leaders Southampton heading into February. They also made more great signings, bringing in Yacine Adli, Rade Krunic, Patrick Bamford, Nuno Tavares, Sean Longstaff and Alan Franco for £21.5m in January.

But surprisingly, they didn’t get automatic promotion as they slipped to 3rd. Saints ran away with it on 107 points – led by top scorer Anthony Martial on loan from Chelsea! – and Fulham, who finished 6 points clear of Rangers. And they then bottled promotion, losing 2-1 to Stoke in the playoff final. But would they be joined by Celtic in the second tier? Nope, as The Bhoys survived in 16th place on 35 points, which was 8 clear of relegation. Celtic’s main man was Ramos, who scored an impressive 16 in 23 league starts, while Ricci got 8 goals and 7 assists with a club-high 7.16 average rating.

Brentford won a 4th successive Scottish title but dropped to 78 points. But the big surprise was Watford slipping behind both Aberdeen and Hibs to 4th!

Season 5: Can Rangers join Celtic in the Prem?

Celtic again went big in the transfer market in the summer of 2025, spending £70m on Emiliano Martínez, Haris Seferovic, Joe Gelhardt, Ebere Eze and Jordan Zemura. They then shelled out a record transfer by signing Alejandro Pozo for £29.5m from Zenit. While Rangers lost Ugarte for Rennes £23m and spent £18m on players I’ve never heard of.

Celtic’s spending didn’t seem to be working as they sat 19th after 23 games. However, they were only 3 points off safety and only Erling Haaland (18) had more goals than Ramos’ 11! For some reason, they re-signed Stuart Armstrong and signed Josh Tymon for £8.75m in January. Worse still, Rangers were only 8th in the Championship and 3 points off the playoffs, but they did sign Eddie Nketiah for £12m.

And that was the catalyst to a superb second half of the season, as they only lost 1 in 20 games from January onwards. That saw Rangers climb to 2nd and secure automatic promotion back to the Premier League. And they would renew acquaintances with Celtic, who survived by the skin of their teeth in 17th place on 32 points, just 1 clear of Fulham. Ramos led the way for them again, scoring 16 in 37.

It’s also worth noting that only Rangers have made it past the FA Cup fifth round, losing to Leicester in the quarter-final in 2024, and neither side has progressed beyond the Carabao Cup fourth round.

Brentford won a 5th Scottish title, but only by 1 point from runners-up Hibs with Watford a further 6 points back in 3rd.

Season 6: Celtic and Rangers lock horns again in the Premier League

Rangers attempted to rebuild by spending £75m on some intriguing signings including Troy Parrott, Dele Alli, Moisés Caicedo, Dani Ceballos ands Rico Henry. Celtic reined their spending in a little to £43.5m, but did make some seemingly astute signings in Jonny from Wolves, Tanguy Ndombele from Atlético and Jeremie Boga from Spurs. The media predicted Rangers to finish 19th and Celtic 16th.

However, the newly relegated Rangers started the season better, sitting 15th after 25 games at the end of the January transfer window. While Celtic were struggling in 19th but only 1 point off safety and 6 points behind Rangers. To arrest that fall, Celtic only spent £2m on a Mexican youngster, while Rangers signed 33-year-old Rodrigo Caio from Flamengo for £2m.

And the tables turned massively through the second half of the season. Celtic jumped up to 15th, finishing on 38 points. While Rangers only picked up 7 points from their last 13 games and, as a result, were relegated again. However, Rangers became the first Scottish team to win the English FA Cup, beating Newcastle 1-0 in the Final to qualify for the Europa League!

Elsewhere, City didn’t win the title for the first time and sacked Klopp to replace him with Mauricio Pochettino, while Liverpool sacked Guardiola and replaced him with Steven Gerrard in December.

Brentford made it 6 in a row in Scotland, again winning the title by a point but this time with Watford climbing back up to 2nd.

10 Years Later: Celtic and Rangers after a decade in England

We decided to jump the experiment ahead a few years to the end of the 2030/31 campaign to see how the Old Firm sides were getting on after 10 years of playing in England. And, om June 2031, one of the Old Firm was still in the Premier League and in the top seven. Care to guess which?

Celtic finished 7th in the top tier on 59 points, which is their best finish yet. They finished 14th in 2028, 11th in 2029 and 13th in 2030, so this represents a massive step up. However, they didn’t qualify for Europe due to 8th and 9th place Leicester and Leeds winning the domestic cups. Their best player remains Ramos, who scored 22 in 44, along with Gelhardt, who scored 22 in 48 and now has 2 England caps, Bogusz, who averaged 7.21 and Cole Palmer, who got a club-high 13 assists. They also have a couple of regens who look like exciting prospects. Celtic are still managed by Larsson and, interestingly, have won several Premier League youth divisions in the last few seasons.

But what’s happened to Rangers? They finished down in 9th in their first season back in the Championship, dropped to 18th in 2029 then finished just outside the playoffs in 7th in 2030. The season just gone saw them drop to 10th and Championship mediocrity, despite being predicted 3rd. They’re now managed by former Liverpool and Lazio manager Luis Alberto, who took charge in March after Fonseca left in December 2027 and was replaced by Scott Carson then Imanol Alguacil.

Up in Scotland, Brentford have won 10 titles on the bounce, with Watford finishing 2nd in all but 1 of the last 4 seasons. Brentford also reached the Europa Conference League Final in 2027, which they lost to Arsenal.

Competitions-wise, Man City have won 3 of the last 4 Premier Leagues, with Man UFC winning it in 2030. Real Madrid have won 3 of the last 4 Champions Leagues, but Bayern won 3 on the bounce from 2022 to 2024 and Barcelona did the same from 2025 to 2027. England won the Qatar World Cup in 2022 then Italy won the next two in 2026 and 2030, while Spain and Germany won the 2024 and 2028 Euros.

So there you have it. If Celtic and Rangers came to play in the Premier League, FM22 thinks Celtic would do pretty well and push for European football, while Rangers would become a mid-table Championship side! Of course, if this was to happen in real life then both clubs would have more money than they actually start the save with. But I think this was a fun experiment to see how they fared.

However, I think it would also be fun to go beyond a decade and, potentially, go back to the start and take control of the clubs to see how we get on.

How do you think Celtic and Rangers would get on in England? And let us know if you’d be keen to see us carry the experiment on beyond 10 years!

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