Football is seen in Scotland as the national game. The major cities have two or more teams. Glasgow has Rangers and Celtic, and several smaller teams, including Partick Thistle and Clydebank. Edinburgh hosts Hibs and Hearts, and Dundee has Dundee and Dundee United.
Lithuanian Russian businessman and banker Vladimir Romanov took over Hearts in late 2004, and has proved controversial, involving himself in team selection, and sacking several managers who have not agreed with his decisions.
In May 2002, Scottish football was in a parlous state. Airdrieonians FC went into liquidation, and Motherwell went into administration, sacking 19 of its playing staff. Small clubs were struggling to control their finances and the Scottish Premier League, or SPL, hardly looked in better shape.
ITV Digital, the digital broadcasting company, withdrew its funding for football’s television coverage in England, and Rangers and Celtic decided to withdraw its support for a proposed SPL TV channel. It would not be until January 2003 that the SPL would finally make up with Rangers and Celtic, and withdraw their threat to resign. In 2004, the SPL looked set to disintegrate, as ten of the clubs in the league planned to resign, leaving the Old Firm out on their own, unless they could gain permission from UEFA and the SFA to play in England or Europe. This seemed extremely unlikely, as UEFA viewed this as a dangerous precedent. Some Austrian teams wanting to play in the Bundesleiga had already been refused. The premiership were equally unlikely to accept the two Scottish clubs.
David Murray, chairman of Rangers for 14 years resigned in July 2002. Martin O'Neill finally left Celtic when it was confirmed that his wife Geraldine had cancer.
Staff and players from Hamilton Academicals walked out in July 2002 in protest at not being paid for four months, following lack of progress in takeover talks - the club's future looks difficult. Clydebank's administrators accepted a bid for the club from Airdrie United's Jim Ballantyne. Directors said they may still try to hold up the transfer of assets.
In August 2002 the SPL managed to agree a TV deal with the BBC for the next two years, but the 10 breakaway clubs were handing in their notice to resign.
In October 2002 the Scottish international team finally won a 2-0 victory against Iceland, following a disappointing draw against the Faeroe Islands, and a run of six games without a win for German manager Berti Vogts.
For a while, Walter Smith revived the Scotland squad's fortunes, but then he left to return to his old club, Rangers.