Gers must nip Hearts threat in the Bud...

IBROX icon Willie Johnston fears Rangers could face a double dose of capital punishment in the SPFL Championship next season.

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Willie fears a revived Hearts
Willie fears a revived Hearts

Ally McCoist's men will lock horns with a resurgent Hearts side in the second tier of Scottish football.

And with Hibs fighting for their Premiership lives in an SPFL play-off against either Hamilton or Falkirk next week, the stage may yet be set for some massive games involving the two Edinburgh clubs.

But Barca Bear Johnston expects Hearts to be a definite threat to Rangers historic bid to win three back-to-back titles.

New Tynecastle owner Ann Budge has quickly put her stamp on the gorgie outfit by this week sacking Gary Locke and installing h former boss Craig Levein as Director of Football while under-20 coach Robbie Neilson has been promoted and is now Head Coach for the first team.

Johnston, of course, moved to the capital in 1982 and spent two years playing in a maroon jersey at the tail end of his career.

And he admits it will be bizarre seeing his two former teams slugging it out in Scottish football's second tier in 2014/15.

He is convinced, though, that the fans will be in for some epic matches - especially if Hibs join them.

He said: "If, by chance, Hibs go down its going to be some league because you'll have the two big Edinburgh clubs, Rangers plus the rest of them.

"But even if they stay up will be a great season for supporters because there will be a lot of really big games and it will be hard, Ally and the players will know that.

"I've seen a lot of the teams in the Championship and it is a tough league.

"Everybody expects Rangers just to waltz through it but honestly they'll not.

"I've seen the Hearts a few times last year and they played well. I know there have been changes there now and it was a shame for their manager.

"But Hearts have a lot of good young players and I'm really looking forward to seeing Rangers come up against them at Ibrox and Tynecastle next season. They should be cracking matches.

"it's a strange situation with two of Scotland's biggest clubs being out of the top division and it will be even stranger if Hibs come down as well. But it will make for a great league and fans will love it."

Johnston hopes Ibrox can once again become a fortress when the Championship action gets underway in August as he knows from experience the lift this gives the Rangers players.

He added: "When the other teams come to Ibrox and they know they will be playing in front of over 40,000 fans shouting for Rangers it can have an unbelievable effect on the opposition.

"So the fans are crucial because there's nothing like running out at Ibrox to a full house if you are a Rangers player. What a lift it gives you, you can't beat it.

"I'm sure the supporters will once again get behind Ally and the boys in the Championship because in the past couple of years the loyalty they have shown in the lower divisions has been incredible."


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