Celtic have refuted Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's claim that the survival of Rangers is crucial for the Parkhead side and the rest of Scottish football to prosper.
Salmond was responding to the financial crisis engulfing the Scottish champions after they went into administration on Tuesday. The Ibrox club were forced to call in administrators Duff and Phelps over an unpaid tax bill of £9million, accrued since Craig Whyte's takeover in May.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell had earlier this week claimed the Hoops could survive and thrive without Rangers, and a statement released on Celtic's official Twitter site read: "We are very disappointed with the First Minister's claims that Celtic 'need' Rangers and that Celtic 'can't prosper unless Rangers are there'. This is simply not true."
The statement added: "In a series of interviews given just three days ago, we made it abundantly clear that Celtic has a well defined strategy and a business plan independent of the fortunes of any other club. That remains absolutely the case.
"The predicament of Rangers is clearly a serious and complex matter with a whole range of possible outcomes.
"However, we are extremely well qualified to make our own position clear and have no wish to see that being misrepresented for political reasons."
Salmond told Sir David Frost, in an interview to be broadcast on Frost over the World on Al Jazeera English: "Obviously HMRC have got to pursue, in the public interest, taxation.
"Equally, they've got to have cognisance of the fact that we're talking about a huge institution, part of the fabric of the Scottish nation, as well as Scottish football, and everybody realises that.
"The most die-hard Celtic supporter understands that Celtic can't prosper unless Rangers are there. The rest of the clubs understand that as well. Therefore you have to have cognisance of these things when you're pursuing public policy.
"We've certainly been arguing to HMRC on one hand, and indeed to Rangers, to for goodness sake get a settlement, get a settlement and a structure over time whereby Rangers can continue because Rangers must continue for the future of Scottish football and for the fabric of the country."