GLASGOW (AFP) As the Scottish Premier League gears up for the new season there are dark clouds on the horizon for its member clubs. A lack of television money and mounting debts has given supporters little to cheer about in recent years and if the Old Firm are a barometer for the rest of the sides in the SPL then there could be stormy times ahead for the league. The championship will again be contested between Celtic and Rangers with last seasons Scottish Cup winners Dundee United best placed to offer a challenge to the Old Firm. Reigning champions Rangers will enter the title battle in worse shape than their Glasgow rivals. Despite winning back-to-back titles in April the Ibrox side was immediately weakened by a host of first-team players heading for the exit. The SPLs all-time top scorer Kris Boyd left on a free transfer to English Championship side Middlesbrough where he was joined by midfielder Kevin Thomson. Steven Smith, Nacho Novo and DaMarcus Beasley were all allowed to leave for nothing while promising youngster Danny Wilson, who only made his debut last season, was snapped up by Liverpool in a 2million pounds deal. The clubs financial problems have been well documented but it appeared manager Walter Smith would be handed a summer transfer budget. Despite having money to sign a player for the first time in two years, attracting players to Ibrox and persuading clubs to sell has so far proved elusive. Smith, who will bow out of football management at the end of the season, admits to being priced out by clubs asking prices and player wage demands. Market forces are against us right now and that is happening a lot, Smith said. Everyone says we have a small group of players and that we will need to bring new ones in and, of course, that is correct. But when we are looking around its difficult to achieve the balance of getting the level of player you want given the level of finance available. So that is the task that faces us and we will obviously try to bring in the best we possibly can. Old Firm foes Celtic have spent the summer rebuilding after a trophyless season. Despite arriving in a blaze of glory last summer, manager Tony Mowbray was sacked in April after a disappointing run of results and replaced by Neil Lennon. The former Celtic captain has wasted no time in bringing his own players in. Seven players have so far arrived at Parkhead including Mexican international Efrain Juarez, South Korean defender Cha Du-Ri and Scunthorpe striker Gary Hooper. Stephen McManus and Polish keeper Artur Boruc have left the club while Irish winger Aiden McGeady could yet move to Spartak Moscow in a big money move. Despite winning eight out of eight in the league as interim boss at the end of last season this new campaign has not started as brightly. A poor pre-season in which the Hoops won one out of eight fixtures was followed by a Champions League third round qualifying defeat to Portuguese side Braga, meaning the Parkhead side will drop into the Europa League qualifiers. With a second summer of spending the Parkhead board will know that another season without the Champions League cashpot will be hard to bear. It has been a quiet time at Tannadice where expectations are high after last seasons third-placed finish and Scottish Cup win. After a summer of speculation Dundee United boss Peter Houston has managed to hold on to his cup winning stars and will look forward to the season with confidence. Hearts have had a summer of stability for once under manager Jim Jefferies and have strengthened well with Scotland striker Kevin Kyle and Falkirk defender Darren Barr checking in at Tynecastle.