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Old Firm flight not so fanciful

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Jim Spence | 17:12 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

In July 2001 the BBC website quoted the then Celtic chairman Brian Quinn saying he thought the Old Firm would be playing in England in three years' time.

Fast forward eight years and the Glasgow pair are still bemoaning their lot in their SPL prison cell, while claiming their escape hatch is close to being sprung.

Cynicism is an ugly emotion, so I'll dispense with it and admit that the Old Firm's eventual jail break to the financially sunny uplands of English football is not as fanciful as it sounds, nor as ruinous to the Scottish game as some would suggest.

If human nature follows its usual course of self interest, if money, as it normally does, determines behaviour, and if enough English clubs see financial advantage in it for themselves, then it could happen.

Old Firm fans
The vested interests of Fifa, Uefa, the SPL and SFA will first be required to go head to head with the vested interests of the PLCs and enormously wealthy individuals who control the really big clubs.

Then it will get interesting. Assuming the television revenue bubble does not implode in the next few years, and that seriously enticing extra revenues could be made for all concerned by admitting the great footballing duopoly of Glasgow, then the clubs may well decide to "have a square go" with football's current power brokers.

No dynasty lasts for ever and if the prize is big enough, then a legal challenge may be used to tackle football's rulers, assuming of course that those rulers do not first seek a face-saving compromise to head off a highly expensive court action which they could lose with the major clubs.

The bottom line is that if the big clubs really want change they will have their way. They have the financial muscle to ensure it.

The big question is whether the financial prize is big enough to make it worthwhile pursuing change.

While I suspect that many Manchester United fans are about as keen on watching the Wigans and Hulls of this world as many Old Firm fans are on welcoming half of the SPL clubs to their patch, the attraction in both a playing and financial sense has to stack up for the Red Devils and others, before the Old Firm receive an invitation to share their substantial English Premier League booty.

Just how much more is in it for a Liverpool or an Arsenal to play Celtic or Rangers instead of the aforementioned Wigan or Hull? We've heard Peter Lawwell explain what's in it for the Hoops, but what's in it for the English?

Top-flight English football does not necessarily want to hear the Celtic story unless it is accompanied by the ching-ching of big bucks.

Burnley, Wigan and Hull may welcome the large travelling support, but at Old Trafford, The Emirates and Anfield there is no room at the inn. "House full" notices are posted every week.

So just what is the marketing strategy of the Old Firm? What is it they think they bring to the party other than the intention to drink someone else's beer?

And if they do succeed in their break-out, why will the SPL fade and die?

Will the broadcasters and newspapers risk the wrath of communities all over Scotland who have no affection for the big two, by ignoring their football teams?

Will the regular 16,000 Hearts fans and 12,000 Hibs and Aberdeen fans disappear like snow off a dyke because the Old Firm no longer come calling?

Or will they revel in the chance of winning trophies on a regular basis in a surprisingly competitive and revamped SPL?

Even the smaller-supported clubs like Dundee United and Motherwell will not be outgunned by those better-supported clubs by anything approaching the financial factor of ten or twelve to one that they currently are by the Glasgow pair.

So a realistic push for honours could be much more widely spread. A new-found competitiveness could bring many fans back to watch a league which was no longer a two-horse race.

I accept that the big money currently on offer from ESPN will probably be diminished, but if the cloth has to be cut to face new financial realities, at least there might be a place again for more local players in the teams at Falkirk or Kilmarnock and others, which will strengthen the bonds between community and club.

Celtic and Rangers have grown beyond their own wildest dreams in terms of average crowds and income, and as businesses with shareholders they will seek to extract maximum profit.

They probably have outgrown the Scottish game and need to flourish elsewhere. A mutually agreeable divorce package with a short-term maintenance allowance might in the long run suit all parties.

But it needs to be a completely fresh start. No leaving Under-21 sides or reserve sides to compete this side of the Tweed.

If they are to go, the Scottish game should wish them all the best and prepare for its own bright new future.

Meantime, the Old Firm can prepare for trips to Rochdale, Scunthorpe and other footballing hotbeds of England's green and pleasant land, as they seek the holy grail of Champions League football, which will assuredly not come as easily to them as it has this past while.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog, Spencey.

    For all the bleating from both sides of the Old Firm, I've yet to hear substantial support from down south about a move to the English set up.

    Phil Gartside (Bolton supremo) has gone public on more than one occasion with his support for a move, but the rest have been tellingly quiet.

    Credit to Celtic though - they have said that they'll happily start at the bottom of the Football League ladder and make their way up through merit if they do get the move they so desperately want.

  • Comment number 2.

    The SPL at the moment is dire, take away Rangers & Celtic and the product will cease to exist. Most of the SPL survive from the Old Firm, take the Setanta issue when they went bust, we heard the other clubs bleat about how difficult things would be with no TV revenue, these clubs were warned by the Old Firm not to accept a crazy deal with Setanta in the first place. The TV companies buy Scottish Football for the sake of showing Old Firm in action every week, do you think Sky bought in to show Hibs v Falkirk or Motherwell v Kille? No Old Firm = no TV deal.

    Media interest? In who? If Rangers & Celtic go south then we will continue to dominate the Scottish press, TV and radio coverage. The fans of other clubs do not generate enough interest to allow the media to give them in depth coverage, and again no Old Firm in SPL will be a turn off for the media who will be more interested in Rangers or Celtic games away to White Hart Lane or Villa Park.

    If it happens I will be delighted, I'm a Rangers fan and I am totally bored with the SPL. I'm fed up with small clubs bleating about the Old Firm being too dominant. We keep this league alive, Rangers and Celtic are Scottish Football and there is no chance of having a remotely attractive league without us, well ok put it on BBC Alba, it'll be great!!

    Small clubs rip off Old Firm fans and there main existent is to reach the top 6 and hope for another home game against either of us. In recent seasons I had a ticket for Fir Park which cost £24 for the Rangers section, oddly Motherwell had left up their price signs from their previous home game...£17 at the gate. Rip-off, and it's noticeable that Old Firm fans no longer pack out away sections in recent years. We've had enough of it.

    Roll on Rangers and Celtic moving to a new league...the sooner the better. I know who needs who in this country.

  • Comment number 3.

    Excellent blog.

    The Scottish game will flourish without them. Rest assured, we don't need them. Time will tell whether they need us. I'll be glad to see the back of them and everything that we have to put up with because of them.

  • Comment number 4.

    The honest question I have is, what will the Old Firm add to the Premiership? The simple truth is nothing and we don't need them in our league! I am against this move because the Premiership is for English teams only not anybody else! Tons of ££ has been injected and that is why our league is so strong but as for the Old Firm, sorry but we don't need you or even want you! They clearly won't be challenging the top 4! If anything they will be challening for positions from 5-10.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    post 4

    The premiership is for english teams only does that mean Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham cannot be promoted if they win the championship.
    As far as I know Wales is not part of England but these sides play in your setup

  • Comment number 8.

    7

    As far as I am concerned they should not be part of our footballing setup. Maybe they can set up a UK league including the Old Firm?

  • Comment number 9.

    it must never be allowed to happen.

  • Comment number 10.

    I for one would be dancing in the streets if they left.

    Last season Rangers visited my teams ground 3 times and we had to put up with the ususal filth and bile that comes along.

    All the football classics.

    We had -

    The famine song
    No surrender
    Gaurding Derry's Walls
    You only sing in the chapel

    Yes you guys are pure class.

    Please leave now , i'll buy the tickets.

    The real plus is a competitive league where more than two teams have a chance of winning the title.

    As for it happening , alas it won't. The EPL don't want you or need you.

    It would be funny though I'd like to see how the OF fans reacted to going season after season with no trophy's and no European football.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't want this to happen. Scottish football will die a death. There will 'not' be a more competative SPL without Celtic/ Rangers.

    I do suspect though it would be blocked anyway by 'worried' chairmen of Premier League clubs; the Old Firm within five years would be forces to be reckoned with, alongside, the Top 4 and Top 4 pretenders City and Spurs. Both Celtic and Rangers could outstrip the spending and gate receipts of the likes of Everton and Villa quite quickly.

  • Comment number 12.

    Please never let this happen. It's just wrong in every way.

    Scots don't want these two clubs, the English certainly don't want them. They should form the Sectarian League and play with themselves.

    Anyway, Scotland will soon be a separate country, so they should look to build up Scottish football, rather than riding on the coat tails of the EPL's success.

    And why on earth should two English clubs make way for two Scottish clubs just because those clubs think it's a good idea?

    Never.

  • Comment number 13.

    12

    Spot on

    A two team league , then they can abuse each other every week.

    And leave the rest of football to get on with playing football.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have no problem with Celtic & Rangers being allowed into the English set-up.
    However, under no circumstances should they be allowed to enter the Premier League straight away.
    If they wish to play in the Premier League, then they should do as every other English club has to do, and earn that right.
    That means, not starting in the Championship, League Two, or even the Unibond League. They should be forced to start right at the bottom of the pyramid, in the English County Leagues.

  • Comment number 15.

    The failure, in my opinion, lies with UEFA for not seeing that, outside the big 5 leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1) in Europe, domestic football is suffering because of those leagues' dominance over the Champions League.

    I think the solution is NOT to allow the biggest clubs in those smaller leagues to join the big leagues, but to MERGE those smaller leagues to create regional leagues with the same economic/market potential of the big 5 leagues.

    In Scotland's case, creating a "Celtic League" would be the solution. Basically, the best 10 in SPL would be joined by Cardiff and Swansea, and the best 2 from Northern Ireland and 4 from the Republic of Ireland to form a 'Celtic League' in which the top 3 qualify for the Champions League.

    Eventually, after say 5-10 years, I believe the Welsh pair would become very strong contenders for the title with the Old Firm, and a Dublin team (Bohemians or Shelbourne) would become a massive club as well. The economy is there, especially in Ireland, for at least one big club to exist.

    There is more than enough potential for similiars merges across Europe - Austria+Switzerland+Hungary, Belgium+Netherlands, Scandinavia.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hard-to-beat, that's an interesting argument but I really can't see it working!

    All you would have is a league very similar to the current SPL. In 15 years time Celtic & Rangers (not to mention Cardiff & Swansea) will be moaning that playing the likes of St Patricks, Glentoran, Falkirk and Linfield every week will be stunting their development and will be fighting to parachute themselves into the English Premier League!

    Back to square one!

  • Comment number 17.

    Andy8659 -

    The crucial difference is, if the economics of a 'Celtic League' play out properly, the OF and eventually Cardiff and Swansea and in probability one of the Dublin clubs would be able to keep and acquire good quality players and compete on the European stage regularly.

    The OF's problem isn't their opposition in the SPL has such, it's that they can not afford to compete on the European stage because the current set-up does not have the economic capacity to allow them to keep and acquire players of the quality they need. If they, and by extention the other strong SPL clubs, were able to play against the Cardiff and Swansea, the investment from the Welsh economy - with the Welsh teams then being able to realistically aim for the Champions League and in Cardiff's case fill the Millennium Stadium - would have immediate positive effects for all. The television money they'd be able to demand would be higher, even if not at Premier League levels, because of the much wider potential audience.

    I think that getting the Irish teams on board has more than obvious benefits, and Dublin as a city and central hub of the Irish economy has more than enough potential to rise one of their clubs - Shelbourne or Bohemians - into the highest levels. Imagine a quality Dubliner team that could keep the bulk of quality Irish players of today; Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady, Kevin Doyle for example. NOT unlikely by any means.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think we should let Rangers and Celtic in and send ManU up to the SPL. Ferie will then get what he wants a league where they can be supreme and no challengers to upset him of an evening.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am a Dundee FC fan and I could not care less if the Old Firm left Scottish Football. The SFL get little or no tv money so the clubs that play in it have to live within their means as much as possible or as much as the banks allow. I actually think that my team play in the best and most competitive league, yes I want my team back in the SPL but that has nothing to do with games against Celtic or Rangers it is because of games against Dundee Utd, Hearts, St,Johnstone, Aberdeen, Hibs etc.
    I can't remember the last time Dens was even full when Celtic or Rangers were there and yes we can do without the silly minority of old firm fans who choose to disgrace their proud clubs with their vile chants and singing.
    I also don't believe that the Scottish Top League would suffer that much, yes there would be a little pain but then clubs would find their level, local players would get a game, more teams could win the league, gates would go up, the standard would improve and we would have a better product.
    As far as media coverage goes I buy the Dundee Courier for local football news as I am only interested in DFC plus what is happening at St.Johnstone, Arbroath, Forfar, Montrose, and even them down the poor end of the street Dundee Utd. I don't buy the so called national rags as I have no interest in what Celtic and Rangers have to say other than when they say goodbye.
    If you go to England, you know what, good luck, thanks for keeping Scottish Football with your selfish attitude and your failure to use your influence to improve our game overall poor and split down the middle. I hope you enjoy your games against Wigan and Portsmouth or Plymouth and Blackpool more likely. You won't ever win the EPL, or the FA Cup, you'll lose more than you win against the big five and you will know what it feels like to be at the mercy of truly big clubs.
    Bye bye see you later, Elvis has left the building.

  • Comment number 20.

    The real solution to the problem is to force through a law in which football clubs worldwide or at least Europe-wide can only be allowed to spend £X as a percentage of their footballing income. Rich sugar daddies can only then be used to improve footballing facilities i.e. bigger stadiums to then increase the footballing income.

    Monies from TV deals should be split evenly throughout the league but capped at say £10M per team per season. The remainder of monies should be ploughed into a national youth development programme.

    This IS the way forward, players would then choose clubs on the basis on best facilities, managers and other players; NOT the amount of money they are offered as wages would in effect be capped through their footballing income.

    In this case both Celtic and Rangers would have relativly large footballing income and would be able to compete, the only snag would still be that the SPL has a poorer overall level of players.

  • Comment number 21.

    I can see a danger here of sleepwalking into a British national side. I cannot see Fifa looking favourably on us continuing as separate footballing nations if this goes ahead.

    The current state of Scottish football is not England's fault, why should we help them? The Scots hate us but love our money it seems. They want independence but want English money to pay for it. Rangers and Celtic should stay where they are, and you won't find many Englishmen who want them.

    I have no love for the Scots but don't hate them either. They should concentrate on building up their own league and that won't happen without their two biggest clubs. What next? There are plenty of leagues struggling in Europe, shall we invite all their top teams to play in the Premier League too?

  • Comment number 22.

    #21 - trust me buddy we don't hate you. We pity you. As for wanting your money methinks not. In what sense do any of us want your money? If you want to bleat on about money just think north sea oil. Ours.

    #19 - excellent post

    #15 + #17 - the old firm playing in a league with teams from northern and southern ireland? Are you being serious? Do you want me to point out the rather obvious problem with that?

    If the other SPL clubs had anything about them after this latest shameless attempt at trying desperately to get the attention of the bigger boys in the playground and failing yet again then the solution is simple - give the old firm notice of intention to quit the league and form their own without the bigot brothers. Let them play each other every week. See how far they get that way. Not very is the answer.

  • Comment number 23.

    Just a quick thought about this old firm english move nonsense. It's clearly all about money. I think we're all agreed on that. The argument goes that say wigan for example get £25 million in tv money and celtic or rangers get £2million despite being much, much bigger clubs. Ok that is true. However celtic get 60'000 at home games every week whereas wigan are lucky to get 20'000. Thats 40'000 extra fans every week at say £25 a ticket which = £1million. Mutiply by 19 home games per season. Add in champions league money which wigan will never get. Add in the number of strips at £45 a go that celtic sell in huge numbers worldwide that wigan don't sell even a tenth of. Add in merchandising. Etc etc etc. So the wigans of this world get more in terms of tv money but in every other aspect the old firm's income dwarfs the wigans, boltons, hulls etc so at the end of the day it's, at worst, roughly equal but more likely that the old firm already make more money than probably half the premiership. Get over it and get on with it, shut up for once, try to cut down on the embarrassing irish nonsense that they both bleat on about and lets take it from there shall we...

  • Comment number 24.

    One other point that springs to mind is the 2012 GB Olympic side.

    Scotland want nothing to do with this as they feel it would prejudice their standing as an independent footballing nation, yet Scotland's two major football powers want to join a FOREIGN league (in UEFA & FIFA terms, the EPL is a foreign league). A move that would surely prejudice Scotland's standing as an independent footballing nation!

    You can't have it both ways!

  • Comment number 25.

    I too think Scottish football would flourish without the OF. With 5 or 6 teams setting out at the start of each season with hopes of winning the league, crowds would rise, match day income would rise. It could even balance out the loss of revenue from TV as I believe the football would be talked about in the press and amoung fans much more that most think. I don't believe the new Scottish league would become a League of Wales, like some OF fans have said in other forums.
    However, it is also a chance to revamp Scottish football. There are too many teams, and we need to set out to have the stongest league possible. If the league was 10, 12, 14 or 16 clubs, then we have to have the strongest, best supported teams in the league. Even if that means amalgamation of clubs.
    With 5 clubs currently in Lanarkshire, could there be a Lanarshire United 'super club'? Same in Fife? Same in Central Scotland?
    Could it be done on a franchise system, like American football and force it through?
    Top teams would be Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Lanarkshire United, Partick Thistle (got to be a Glasgow team) Fife United, Central United, Kilmarnock, Dundee, St Mirren. Others could be Highlands United, St Johnstone, Morton, Ayr United? I know this will be controvertial, but Scottish football needs radical change, with or without the OF.
    But I would be happy to see them leave. The only way the EPL would welcome them was if SKY offered substantially more money to the EPL to accept them. Otherwise, they will never be welcome.

  • Comment number 26.

    Rangers & Celtic fans often tell us other fans that without them the SPL would be dead, and to an extent they are right. But what they fail to realise, and what the media also fail to realise, is that it is because of the Old Firm that the scottish game is so uncompetitive. The shear weight of their financial might has suffocated the other clubs. Riordan of Hibs is just one recent example of the old Firm snapping up the best the league has to offer, and then letting the player sit on the bench week-in, week-out. Killen of Celtic signed again from Hibs and didn't get a look-in last year. The Old Firm buy up the best players in the league, because they are unable to afford English prices, and then they complain that the rest of the teams are not good enough, yet it is they who have decimated the competition with their financial might. Aberdeen this year, a proud club with the same number of European trophies as the Old Firm put together, are now playing teenagers as their players fly south to bigger pay packets in the lower English leagues. Clubs like this know that when these talented teenagers come to fruition the Old Firm or English clubs will snap them up and they'll be back plundering their academy for replacements.

    there is a lesson here also for England. Scotland has half the number of teams in the top flight with 2 teams vying for the championship. England has twenty teams and four teams vying for the top spots, leaving aside the sudden cash injection at City. England is in danger of becoming another limited odds race, just as the SPL is, and what a shame that is for the majority of us who don't support the huge teams. The romance of the likes of Aberdeen, Notts Forest, Villa and Dundee Utd taking the fight to the major european clubs is now just a romantic footnote to beautiful, yet tiresomely predictable, football of the Champions League.

  • Comment number 27.

    I would welcome the Old Firm in the Premiership. For too many Premiership teams their main aim is to simply survive and that results in many games that are torture to watch. Rangers and Celtic will bring some passion down with them. One of them got to a UEFA final not long ago - my Villa couldn't even get past the first round !

  • Comment number 28.

    It would be best all round if the OF were to somehow join the set up down south. Results would more than likely be: (1)Competition in the Scottish leagues for a change; (2) Old Firm would undoubtedly add value to the Premiership/Football League (wherever they started off); (3) Scottish national team could benefit by having OF home grown players playing regularly at a higher level. Personally the idea of a 'Celtic' league would not interest me in the slightest and I'm sure that a club such as Cardiff - who are knocking on the door of the Premiership - wouldn't find it very attractive either. None of it will happen of course.

  • Comment number 29.

    No sensible owner of a team usually in the top half of the Premiership is going to vote for those two to join our league. With the added revenue from increased gate prices, TV money and advertising. celtic and rangers would within a couple of years be competing with the big four.

    Turkeys dont vote for Xmas and neither do top Premiership clubs.

    It will never happen.

  • Comment number 30.

    If Celtic and Rangers are invited south of the border, there are a few issues;

    1. Having them start at the bottom of the Football League pyramid is, given the overwhelming support, unfeasible as the policing costs would simply lead to financially vulnerable clubs going under. If Celtic and Rangers are to play competitively in England, then the Championship (or a Premier League 2, should it materialise) would be more practical, if somewhat unfair. Still, as the goalposts have been moved to favour the big clubs in recent years then this would be typical rather than an outrageous turn of events.

    2. When the League of Wales started, there was no question of Cardiff or Swansea joining this league at the time. In the modern sanitised game that we know where history counts for nought, what would be the difference in having teams from Scotland to go with teams from Wales?

    3. The pressure for teams outside the English, Italian & Spanish top flights to compete has intensified. In Germany, Bayern Munich are no longer dominant in the Bundesliga and neither Ajax, Feyenoord or Eindhoven made the top two in the Eredivisie. However, even if Celtic and Rangers continue to decrease their spending then is unlikely to be a break of their monopoly that has dominated Scottish football since the mid eighties, given that all clubs in the SPL are struggling financially. Escape (or kicking the big two out, dependent on your standpoint) seems to be the only way forward in this instance.

    4. As the English Premier League is a global brand, not unlike the NHL or NBA, both of who have representation from Canada, then is it such an absurd notion to have a Scottish contingent? It is abhorrent from the grass-roots perspective, but the Premier League doesn't give two hoots about that.

    Both teams are obliged to consider a move if invited, and the reality of such a move may seem closer now than in years past. But I'll still be surprised if it happens.

  • Comment number 31.

    Having been in Manchester the day of and the day after the last time Rangers played at an English stadium, I'm pretty emphatic in not wanting either of these two playing in England regularly.

    And why is there the implicit assumption that Rangers or Celtic are capable of playing Premier League football? Is there any evidence that they're good enough? To me both seem more like top-end Championship teams.

  • Comment number 32.

    25. see where your coming from but as a motherwell fan i would never want to be anything to do with our small neighbours . Why shouldn't dundee and dundee united join there stadiums are on the same street ! .

    I think that Celtic and Rangers need the SPL because of all their glory hunting fans . So I would like to see them go and watch them crumple maybe celtic won't but Rangers definetley would . Thus this would bring more crowds to teams situated in the west coast for my team that means £££

  • Comment number 33.

    27 Have you seen the way Rangers Play ?

  • Comment number 34.

    I am quite happy for Rangers and Celtic to go away. Even further than England would be preferrable!
    Seriously, there is one only reason the English clubs will let them in, that is if they bring the money that full houses, sponsorship and TV revenues allow. However as with every upside there is a downside; you will get the 'pleasure' of the fans and all the baggage they bring. They will make Millwall fans seem pleasant by comparison.
    Scottish football will survive without them and we will have our ready made scapegoats for all the ills of the world. It might even be a happier place without the Old Firm and all the problem children that follow them.

  • Comment number 35.

    Good Blog. Though I will say one thing it reads an awful like something i wrote a couple of months ago.

    http://www.pieandbovril.com/spl-news-and-views/323-2013-an-spl-odyssey

    Thats my opinion on it anyway.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    so they want to go straight into the premier league? How unfair is that on the likes of WBA, Newcastle etc Surely an entry into leaue two would be more fair.

  • Comment number 38.

    What do they bring to the party? All I ever see is 2 sets of religously bigoted fans who can't move on. The songs sung by each set are vile and offensive.
    The rivalry between them is unlike the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham, or Man Utd and City, which is strong but still sporting; in the case of the big 2 Glasgow clubs, it is pure hatred. For what reason would we want that brought south?
    The move is in no-one's interest bar theirs.
    Leave 'em where they are.

  • Comment number 39.

    Nobody seems to have mentioned the legal aspects. English and Welsh law differ vastly from Scottish law-hence the fact the Welsh clubs can play in the English leagues.
    What about taxation,employment law and the probobility of an independent Scotland?

  • Comment number 40.

    My own personal view is that if the deal is done and they do come over to the English League, they will have to join at at least League 2 level. It is simply not right to deny two other teams progression to allow Rangers and Celtic straight into the Premier League. Although, in the end it will be a financial decision and nothing to do with fairness.

    If they did join straight into the Premier League, who wouldn't enjoy a wry chuckle if either or both got relegated? I personally would love to see them at Glanford Park!

  • Comment number 41.

    One point often overlooked is the very reason england scotland fixtures were dismantled in the 1980s - the rivalry and violence.
    inviting rangers and celtic fans to england is to invite disaster on a weekly basis. they are well and fairly reputed to be akin to a plague of locusts when visiting scottish cities (using every doorway as a toilet for example) and this would be increased 10-fold if you brought in the english/scottish rivalries to the equation.

    you only have to look at the UEFA cup final in manchester to see what WILL happen. regularly.

    if england wants them, you're welcome to them - but you have been warned - they will bring trouble, and plenty of it.

    and that's just the fans!

  • Comment number 42.

    I can see both sides of the argument; however, I doubt it will happen. Here are a few observations:

    #24 Steady on - in terms of this issue you can't take the Old Firm as representitives of Scotland - the whole point is that in their self-interest they are turning their backs on Scotland. The 'Scottish' side of the argument is upheld by the teams 'left behind' - i.e. the rest of the SPL and SFL.

    Remaining on the topic of self-interest (since it drives the whole argument), I can't see them being elected into an English league. Regarding the EPL, the top half would feel their European chances were threatened, and the bottom half would feel their chances of EPL survival threatened (after all, there'd need to be two extra relegations). If the prospect were to admit the OF to the Championship, exactly the same issues would arise. So surely you wouldn't get the necessary majority of turkey-chairmen voting for an OF Christmas?

    In terms of competition, I'm sure the SPL would be far better without the OF, but I think it's a bit fanciful of some posters to imagine this would convert into substantial income; I fear that Scottish league football would fall to a level not much higher than Welsh. Maybe domestic football in Denamrk or Norway would be a closer equivalent.

    Finally, talking of competition, again I think the OF supporters are overly romantic in thinking they'd be competing for the premiership or even Champions League places. They might have the gates of Old Trafford but hardly the quality. Yes, Celtic did reach the UEFA cup final - as did Middlesbrough. A closer equivalent to the OF in terms of size and quality would be Newcastle. Initially they'd be amongst the lower end of the EPL/upper end of the Championship; therefore, without a few years' of European income. Their supporters would have to get used to an era of mediocrity. Come to think of it, I'm warming to the idea already ....

    [Inverness 'SuperCaleyGoBallistic....] supporter!

  • Comment number 43.

    The Old Firm are having a laugh.... Do they really think that they are going to get into the big four and with it a place in the holy grail of the champions league within the next 20 years if ever.

    Not only will they have to work their way through the Football League but then consolidate themselves within the most competitive league in the world as one of the big four.

    Being "a big club" does not give you the birth right to be in the Champions League or The Premiership for that matter. Just ask Leeds, Newcastle, Notts Forrrest and all the other clubs with brilliant new stadiums and facilities. Saints fans you know who you are.

    The Old Firm should count their blessings that they are guaranteed a kick at Europe every year. Instead of trying to get into the Premiership they should be looking at how they can heighten the Scottish League and make it more "profitable"

    The grass is not always greener on the other side.

  • Comment number 44.

    This is going to happen and it will happen because Sky Television and Rupert Murdoch will see to it. It is in their interests. So dont worry about the interests of the epl clubs, Murdoch will have a far bigger say than Wigan and West Ham etc. The money they invest now in Scottish football will be ploughed into the EPL on top of what is already on offer. Murdoch knows that the old firm are a global product and that that in the end will see him insist the epl follow this route or take a pay cut. You can throw ESBN into this too. It is no coincidence that a significant member of the Rangers board has significant connections to ESBN and Fox TV (owned by Murdoch) This will happen in 2014. (both countries current tv contracts expire thereabouts) It is a done deal.

  • Comment number 45.

    Those who seek to shoe-horn the Glasgow clubs into the FA Premier League often cite the Welsh Clubs as the comparison. As Cardiff and Swansea have recently been in League Two ( Fourth Division) and Wrexham are in the Conference then a precedence is established.

    Are Celtic and Rangers prepared to start at Conference level and work their way up? If not, then no thanks.

  • Comment number 46.

    If they reduce the PL to 18 teams and invite the OF at the same time will this mean 4 will go down and 3 wouldn't come up so it would effect 7 teams straight away meaning a grudge would have already been made if they were to meet in the future.
    Also will the fans be happy at having 4 less matches to attend or watch each season meaning A winter break could be on the cards?
    The good thing about the FL is you have 8 more games than the PL to watch.
    A Rangers fan mentioned being charged more at away matches but you have to pay over the odds in the PL and the OF would no doubt increase their match day prices thus risking out pricing their own fans.
    Would fans want to travel all the way to Glasgow especially the London clubs.
    The top 4 already feel threatened by City,Spurs and Villa therefore would do anything to prevent the OF from muscling in.
    Forget about any of the big games having A 3pm KO on A Saturday as Liverpool Celtic will be A dead cert for TV every season just because they sing the same song.
    All in all it will be A policing and fixture headache and people will not tolerate far right chants on A weekly bases this side of the border.

  • Comment number 47.

    14
    Totally agree, Andy.
    They should have to start in the league Gretna were playing in before joining the SFL. That would mean some nice away trips to places like Penrith and Workington.
    Imagine the boost it would give these smaller teams while the Old Firm worked their way up the pyramid.
    As for the argument that Scottish football would wither and die without them, I agree with Spencie, a more competitive league would bring the disillusioned and weary punters back through the turnstiles.
    Perhaps the pyramid system should cover the whole of the UK anyway, and make the top league accessible to all clubs in the UK like what happens in Ice Hockey.

  • Comment number 48.

    It won't happen. The price from UEFA and FIFA would have to be the giving up of the Scottish national team and that's too high a price

  • Comment number 49.

    15
    Although you make some good financial arguments, you just can’t have Rangers bringing their travelling support to Dublin.
    It would make the Battle of the Boyne look like a minor scuffle.

  • Comment number 50.

    I agree with Rover and Andy, that they would have to start at the bottom and work their way up the leagues. It's ridiculous for them to be slotted into the Premiership without earning that right.
    But would both really want to do spend season after season trying to achieve premiership status? They would no longer have the status of being national champions and money from European competitions would stop flowing in. They might do well in cup competitions, but revenues would drop as would their marketing prowess. Would the players want to play in the lower leagues, some may, many probably not, so talent could drain away.
    Personally, I doubt it will happen.

  • Comment number 51.

    There are some seriously deluded people writing comments on this blog. Let's deal with some of those 'issues' they bring up....

    - Rangers and Celtic being forced to start at the bottom leagues. It's not going to happen. If Celtic and Rangers are allowed into the English league, it's going to be because of the extra revenue they bring to SKY. Do you seriously think they'd allow them in, then wait 5 or 6 years to see that decision bear fruit? I don't think so. Celtic and Rangers would be parachuted straight into the EPL, or at worst, the Championship. Fair? Not really. But when it comes to money or sense of fair play, there's only ever going to be one winner.

    - "The Old Firm are having a laugh.... Do they really think that they are going to get into the big four and with it a place in the holy grail of the champions league within the next 20 years if ever." - no sir, YOU are having a laugh. It always amuses me when you get these characters coming on here, and going 'Pwhhp! Old Firm? Leeds and Newcastle are big clubs, and they can't do it' You have no idea, have you? Celtic and Rangers aren't Newcastle big or Leeds big, they are astronomically bigger than these clubs. I live down south, and it amazes me how little the average fan down here knows about this. Let me put it this way Celtic, in global brand terms, are probably only beaten by Real Madrid, Man U, Barcelona, and possibly Liverpool. In shirt sales, interest in matches, supporters clubs and such like, they dwarf the Premiership outwith the aforementioned clubs. Goto anywhere with an Ex-pat community (e.g USA, Australia, South Africa etc.) in fact anywhere where Scots or Irish have emigrated to throughout history and you will find supporters clubs.

    - Scottish football will thrive without them - Will it? There's already very little interest in teams outwith the Old Firm. In fact, let's face it, if it wasn't for the soap opera at Hearts, there'd be no coverage at all! So, let's say Partick Thistle are playing Hearts, but, oh no, Celtic are playing Man Utd that weekend. Let me think, what's the coverage going to be like in the papers? Scottish football will die without Rangers and Celtic. However vile their supporters are, they also happen to be vile people with money in their pocket, and, sorry to drag it back to reality from the romantic notion of football for football's sake, but money talks. Without them, there'll no sponsorship, no investment, no Hibernian academy (where do you think the funding for that came from? You moan about the lack of competition being caused by the Old Firm, but whose money was it that funded it?).


    I'm a Celtic fan, but I happen to think Celtic are a Scottish club and should stay where they are. The only arguement I've heard is 'We want more money, so we should move'. Besides, if we hang on long enough, the Champions league will be replaced with a European league anyway, so it'll happen, but not in the way we think.


  • Comment number 52.

    Its an interesting case study in the ever muscling of football's financial clout even though its quite a funny, desperate SOS from the OF. The EPL itself stands risk of fracturing (say next 5-10 years)as a new 'EPL' (European)league emerges. A proper global product beamed into Asian living rooms in full HD with itinerant full-media advertising (Internet, Mobile, screen-based) and side-dishes like full gambling rights, shirt tops with scrolling advert videos, in-game bio-stats (respiration, heart rate, etc), bidding for player's rights in real-time, and other stuff i cant think of ... is much more the end game for much of this billionaire's club. It does make me wonder why more Asian firms have not bought clubs (Samsung, LG, Sony) and then you see that they have sh/holders and balance sheets that are visible - unlike our fat-brigade of billionaire's. Our quaint club loyalties are merely greasing the present path for a future, seismic shift as our once-beloved game is taken from us and re-shaped for the rising economies of Asia (think more and more noon kick-offs). We are still buying scarves and bare-chesting on terraces in November - i wonder if its not us who are the desperate ones. We are not even mere stakeholders (or 'fans' as we are often patronisingly labelled) in our clubs anymore but bystanders to another man's financial will. OF and EPL fans included - maybe especially. I think the attempted franchising out of last game of season to world cities, strange as it may have first looked, points to the bottom half of EPL showing what we could do with current set up if you just stay with us. The EPL itself is evolving; this is not to say the OF can't use this disruption to its advantage they are, in their own way a very global brand too - but the US and other anglophone spheres is not the real prize. And this is not about merit - come on, that sentiment went out with jumpers for g/posts. No, this is diamond hard business and you move now to ensure position in the shake-up later. Of course the OF are desperate. As for the rest of us, go and watch your son playing f/ball in the park and make sure his head is screwed on right - dont join the circus

  • Comment number 53.

    What will Old Firm bring to english prem league?

    Sectarian violence.
    It happens in Glasgow and it might be exported south of the border.

    The extra policing costs surrounding each game would cancel out a large amount of the extra revenue.
    Sure, Celtic have played English teams in Europe without much hooliganism, but we are talking about a weekly commitment here....

  • Comment number 54.

    I think there's enough bile and hatred in the Premiership for now Seems a moot point really as a European league featuring some or all of the G20 is inevitable within the next decade. Travel times are irrelevant now and the riches awaiting the clubs are far too great to resist. Asia is the main market they're all looking to and no-one in Asia is interested in Burnley vs Stoke(or Celtic vs Rangers for that matter). Contrary to what one deluded Celtic fan seems to think, Celtic are not a big club on a world scale, and are virtually unknown in Asia. Liverpool vs Real, Milan vs Man utd, Barcelona vs Chelsea, Arsenal vs Bayern, is the kind of fixture list that those fans want to see and will pay to see They may get in the Premier one day but the big 4 will be long gone

  • Comment number 55.

    Any new team has to start in the bottom tier, which is called League 2 at the moment! Will Celtic and Rangers players and supporters fancy trips to Lincoln etc? And how will they be accomodated? Will League 2 be made bigger? Or will other teams miss out or be relegated to make way for them?

  • Comment number 56.

    A couple of interesting little snippets, but on the whole the same old stuff:

    They will go/they won't go.
    The SPL will be better/the SPL will be worse.

    The article started by quoting a 9 year old quote. We haven't moved on. YAWN, next story please........

  • Comment number 57.

    Old Firm play in England? In Championship, I presume.

  • Comment number 58.

    Wow! This is a bright new exciting topic.... Will the old firm play in england? I haven't heard of such a concept before? I expect that I'll be further surprised and read comments from English people saying that they will only finish mid table at best and then Scottish people who don't support the old firm saying it will be terrible and then Celtic/rangers fans saying what "big clubs" they are.

    Old boring repeated rubbish- write about something new please!

  • Comment number 59.

    So the Old Firm are currently pursuing an escape route from Scottish football? Fine, but lets not sit around waiting for them to leave - lets all resign from the league and start a new one ASAP, without them. Leave them with no-one to play against until they manage to weasel their way in down south. Big passionate crowds - they're bound to be a massive success in the Premiership - just ask Newcastle!

    And by the time they reach the Premiership most of their "fans" will be supporting Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City or whoever else is at the top of the league.

  • Comment number 60.

    Does it really make sense for just Rangers and Celtic to play in the English League? I'd look at introducing the whole Scottish setup below the Championship - the First and Second divisions would become regional (N and S) with the dividing line somewhere around Lancashire / Yorkshire or maybe even a bit further south.

    If a decent concept comes up on that basis, all well and good. If not, scrap the whole idea. No special rules for those two clubs. I'd imagine the likes of Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts or a Dundee side would be a big draw for Championship clubs, it would probably take a couple of years before they started looking at promotion but you never know. If supporters (or owners) of those clubs reject the idea then it is game over.

  • Comment number 61.

    Regardless of how good Celtic or Rangers would or would not be in the English League System...

    Is it possible for Scottish teams playing in the English league system to qualify for Europa League or Champions league?

    It's not possible for Cardiff or Swansea right now unless some rules are changed. I think that if they were successful sides it's possible this might happen but it wasn't a certainty, even when Cardiff reached the FA Cup Final couple of years ago. There wasn't a guarantee that winning the cup would have allowed Cardiff in to Europe.

    Also, would Celtic and Rangers answer to the English FA or the Scottish FA? Cardiff & Swansea answer to the Welsh FA which can interpret certain rules differently. If Cardiff/Swansea feel a red card was unjust then they apply to the FAW to get it overturned.

    Seems to me that this really breaks down the powers of the FAW and the Scottish FA which makes you question if it wouldn't be better to create a British FA and structure the leagues accordingly, perhaps with lower leagues being national (English, Scottish, Welsh and NornIrish) with the top teams playing in the highest divisions...? Of course, THAT is a stupid idea and will never happen...

  • Comment number 62.

    Rangers and Celtic are too optimistic about how they would do in the EPL. If they'd entered 5 years ago, maybe there would be no top 4 in the EPL, but now the top 4 (soon to be 5) simply have too much prestige and money, and their kind of player is now too expensive. Even with EPL incomes, they'd need to bankrupt themselves to get half the number of world class players the top 4 have. Look at Man City ... 300 odd mil and they're still far off. Rangers in particular are little bigger than Newcastle Utd or Leeds Utd (certainly not more than Everton or Aston Villa), and look what happened to them when they tried to keep qualifying for the Champions League (and that was when it was affordable!).

    A few years down there, they'd be glancing in envy at Hearts and Aberdeen competing in the Champions and Europa League, while they regularly take home defeats to the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa while dreaming vainly of a top table finish. It's possible then that, deprived of the easy success of the SPL, their glory-hunter crowds (often taken from places like Paisley, Falkirk and Motherwell) would drop and they'd be no bigger than a Portsmouth or a Birmingham City.

    Old Firm fans should be very careful what they wish for. They might get it!

  • Comment number 63.

    I think the idea of a "Celtic" league is a good one, and i'll add this.

    5 scottish clubs, 5 Irish clubs, 3 Nth Ireland clubs, and 5 welsh clubs make up the Celtic League, with 1 up and one down from each country promotion/relegation.

    And the end of the season gets into a playoff, with a knockout competition to decide the winner of the CL. (Top 4 play each other down to 2, then final.)

    As well as that, there's a "Islands league" cup, in which the top team from the EPL, and the CL play each other home and away to decide the winner. (away goals rule, and extra time and penalties if needed.)

    This way, none of the countries involved would lose their national team status either.

    Just a thought......

  • Comment number 64.

    This could be a really interesting opportunity. Rangers and Celtic should playoff with the Championship nos 2-6 in a one off competition for entry to the Premier League and then in subsequent years the top 2 or 3 in the remaining scottish premier league could playoff with division one for entry to the championship. Don't see why Scots teams should be treated any differently to Welsh teams.

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with post 41 & 51.

    Sky will determine the make-up and the format of the league with The Old Firm in the EPL.

    Look at tghe games in the EPL this seasomn already. Games like Chelsea at Wigan had thousands of empty seats - no broadcaster would be happy with that. Getting a league full of truly big clubs like Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Celtic, Rangers etc will be much more attractive to the likes of Sky and I would expect Sky will be acting on this.

    Well done to the likes of Wigan, Hull, Portsmouth et al in getting to the Pemiership but you're just not big enough. Broadcasters need global cvoverage to increase revenuues and so neeed global brands to achieve this.

    It may not be palatable, but it's an inevitability and it's coming sooner than most would imagine.

  • Comment number 66.

    People who criticise the old firm fans are complete hypocrites. You really think English fans are any better? Lets see....

    We (The English) sing about... (just some that ive heard, off the top of my head)

    The Munich air crash
    Hillsborough
    Spurs fans in the gas chambers
    The Bradford City fire
    Songs about Muslims - ie Mido
    Not to mention other racist, homophobic etc etc chants

    So get over yourselves, we have as many scum bag fans as the old firm does. Our excrement doesn't smell any sweeter.

    From what i can gather, the big English clubs wouldn't want the Old Firm as it would create too much competition? Dubious. Competition increases the standards, thus the English game would get better.

    Whether your Man Utds, Arsenals and Liverpools like it or not there will always be renewed competition - Chelsea and Man City came from nowhere due to new money - as did Blackburn for a couple of seasons. If it isnt Rangers and Celtic, then it will be someone else from within England.

    And lets not get too sad for the likes of Wigan - remember, they bought their way into the Premier League with Whelans money.

    It would also be a far more attractive deal for TV companies, as the potential audiences would sky rocket - not only Scottish fans but also all the Irish who support one or the other of the Old Firm.

    And for those posters who say the Old Firm couldnt compete in the Premier League - you are missing the bigger picture. Maybe not in their first season, but give it 3 years of TV money and a chance to rebuild their squads and they will be in the top 6 for sure. Celtic draw 60,000 every week + all their merchandising - they will attract class players - Rangers arent too far behind and are talking of building a new stadium. The potential is astronomical.

    And i think the SPL will benefit, as long as Sottish fans really do take a renewed interest. If fans get out of their armchair and start supporting their local team, then there is no reason why smaller clubs cant increase their revenue. But all to often, people will just find a reason to go to the ground, if it isnt old firm dominance, then its a bad manager, or things werent like they used to be - basically they dont want to pay their hard earned cash. Cant blame them for it, but to me their opinions are worth squat. If you love your club, you go regardless of the opposition etc etc.

  • Comment number 67.

    If the Old Firm move the SPL will survive but only on the same level as the Irish League so I can hardly see it flourishing.

    By the way, this whole episode should put to bed once and for all the myth that the Old Firm is a 'rivalry'.

  • Comment number 68.

    #65 Baseball is massive in terms of TV finance and yet most games are played to half-empty stadiums - but as long as the main players provide the full stadia with the big players they can accept it.

    Maybe Sky could subsidise ticket prices to ensure people can afford to go?

  • Comment number 69.

    Bottom line for me is that I would be glad for them to go - the sooner the better. I'd even urge the other clubs to be brave and encourage it.

    They are behaving like diva's or a high maintenance partner threatening constantly to walk out the door if they dont get their way. The best answer for everyone's health is to let them go and get on with the rest of our lives.

    Scottish Football will survive and I'm sure supporters of the other clubs will rally round / end their self imposed exile since their will be more to play for and a greater chance of honours.

    The clubs themselves would enjoy a more even distribution of football income.

    What irks me even more than the sectarian bile itself. Is the lack of humility displayed by the two clubs and their board members themselves on how their immense stature and standing is due to Scotland's sectarian divide and their huge share of resources is due to the country wide support they enjoy due to our nations unique religious landscape.

    Another thought that keeps me going on this. The media will have only two Old Firm games to get themselves in a lather about. And better still - if one of them gains promotion while the other stays in a lower division. Absolute heaven!!!!

    It would be good to see the justification for TV, radio and newspapers shunning the Scottish SPL for England's league 2

  • Comment number 70.

    #67 The Irish League comparison is nonsense and unfounded.

  • Comment number 71.

    I cant see this happening for two reasons: 1) why should only Celtic and Rangers be eligible to join and not Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs et all? 2) there's a lot of talk about what Man Utd would like, but they only have 1 Premiership vote, and in truth the majority of Premiership sides are clinging to that League by their fingertips. Why should they vote to be displaced by Rangers and Celtic? For the majority of clubs, voting for the acceptance of Celtic and Rangers would be like turkeys voting for Christmas - it aint gonna happen - whatever the Glasgow 2 might like!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    Good blog this.

    First off, and most importantly it addresses how the SPL would fare and does so in a positive light.

    Obviously the TV money would drop without the ugly sisters but OF fans are deluding themselves if they think there would be no interest in the SPL without them.

    A competitive league would improve the support of many of the SPL clubs - when Hibs were last relegated we played good football and won a lot of games. Result? Good attendances.

    And though the money would drop it would at least be more evenly spread rather than the other clubs getting whatever scraps the OF throw us lest they take their ball home.

    As for whether they should start at the bottom and work their way up the leagues - that's for the English to decide though I doubt the OF would genuinely do that although they probably should do in fairness to the other english clubs.

    What must not happen under any circumstances is the OF leaving satellite clubs in Scotland. If they make their bed with the English leagues they should lie in it.

    As for whether the english would want them - it doesn't really benefit the big clubs and after the last time rangers were in town i highly doubt manchester ever wants to see the OF again.

    And finally, as for how they'd do - mid table anonymity as neither club is as good as their supporters think while the bottom half of the EPL isn't all that hot either.

    I'd certainly be glad to see them go.

  • Comment number 73.

    If this was to occur, how would it be decided which teams places in the premier league would be taken by the Old Firm? How could it be justified that two teams who had not earned their right to be in the premeir league were playing there in the place of two teams that had earned that right. The Welsh teams that play in the Engliush leagues are there because there are not many of them. There is a plethora of functioning Scottish teams that could then demand that they get a lift into the Premier League.
    What would stop a top team from France or Belgium also demanding (and legally challenging) a move to the more lucrative Premier league.

    I feel that this issue would open up a huge can of worms and it should never be allowed to happen. If Scotland wishes to be an independent nation then it should have it's own football league as well as it's own Parliament. The Scots refused to entertain the notion of a British football team because they feared the end of their national team so then why do they wish to put their own football league in jeopardy by supporting this move.

  • Comment number 74.

    I am a Celtic fan and believe that this all has to be put in to perspective. I notice there are a few remarks from other SPL team fans and also from followers of teams down south that clearly have a strong dislike for both OF teams for whatever reason yet without actually putting any real arguments forth. However, leaving sad little personal vendettas aside, there are so many varying factors that need to be addressed such as the cups, and whether they compete in the Scottish Cup any more; from this what comes of European admission; what of non domestic player rules that UEFA are looking at; the attitudes of the SFA, FA, UEFA etc to the idea of joining the EPL; which league would they start off in? So many problems areas to be addressed, yet some ‘fans’ on here are spouting less than intellectual arguments.
    Celtic have already stated through Peter Lawwell that they will start where they have to and I imagine Rangers would do the same. Clearly it is in the interests of both teams to push for entry as far up the leagues as possible though.
    What some people don’t realise is that, once in the EPL both the OF WOULD be challenging for major honours within 5 years. That is the truth. Both are already just as widely supported as the big 4, have similar global fanbases and pulling power, not to mention stadiums that already dwarf the vast majority of EPL teams.
    Already in the past 10 years Celtic have played EPL position 10 times and have won 4, lost 4 and drawn 2, which included spanking Liverpool at Anfield (2- 0 is a spanking for us!) plus sticking it up that useless muppet Graeme Souness at Blackburn. If I’m not mistaken Wigan just took 34 attempts to beat one of the Big 4, and they are often mid table cannon fodder, YET they command bigger transfer fees and player salaries than the OF.

    Other issues though include the dreaded and malignant sectarianism and bigotry that go on. I’m not here to argue the toss about who is worse, because before the OF moves, they need to get this cancer eradicated.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm not fundamentally against this, although I do feel that Celtic and Rngers are being incredibly fanciful if they believe they can just go into the premierleague strait away given it's current structure. No surely they would have to work their way up and do these teams think they could honestly survive on the revenue one would get from league two. Aren't Rangers already in finacial difficulty and that's from SPL money which is roughly comparable to the size of the pot of gold in the chamipnship.

    No the only way they could get in to the premiership is if Phil Gartsides idea of a two tier premiership was introduced, kind of like the style of league we use in the hockey over here. This is the reason I'm kinda supportive of the idea because if this came into fruitition then Gartside has said there will be 38teams,now even with rangers and celtic that means that some of the biggest teams in the football league the likes of ourselves, Derby, Leicester, Leeds and sheff utd, those teams who have been down of their luck in recent years would be given an opportunity to bring successful football back to the heart of the ocal communities.

  • Comment number 76.

    Me thinks the Old Firm would do quite well in the EPL once/ if they get lots of TV money.They would be good at home and finish 4th to 7th approx.
    Then they would be bought by the Saudi royal family which wont sit well with the drinking classes.
    I agree with number 26 about the benchwarmers whose Scotland careers have been ruined and would expect it to get worse in the EPL. But who can tell these confident 22 year olds that they will hardly get a game and 10 grand a week (£1.5 million over 3 years) is not good for them long term.
    Re number 48 , I don't agree , Wales still have a national team and others such as Lichtenstein (or something spelt something like that).

    Talking about TV money , you do realise we non-english part fund the EPL through our Sky subscriptions but our teams dont get much of it as it is spread far and wide. Did you enjoy paying for Notts County v Torquay yesterday or the Conference stuff. Dundee v Dunfermline would be far more entertaining but they don't get a look in.
    We need to market and promote our game more. Highlight skilful players / goal scorers in the press , perhaps with sponsorship rewards (Play of the day type of things )

  • Comment number 77.

    Nickstriplights, youre post is dumbfounding!

    First this:-

    "I am a Celtic fan and believe that this all has to be put in to perspective. I notice there are a few remarks from other SPL team fans and also from followers of teams down south that clearly have a strong dislike for both OF teams for whatever reason yet without actually putting any real arguments forth. However, leaving sad little personal vendettas aside. . . "

    Then this:-

    "Other issues though include the dreaded and malignant sectarianism and bigotry that go on. I’m not here to argue the toss about who is worse, because before the OF moves, they need to get this cancer eradicated."

    When will the penny ever drop?

  • Comment number 78.

    As the guy who talked aboot the NHl, hockey is Canada's sport, the teams in the states pail in comparrison to the financial might of the canadian team (the leafs and Canadiens are by far the biggest teams in the league (the Red Wings are probably the biggest in the states and they're only across the water from windsor, ontario.) The NBA and MLB (and to an extent the NFL because the bills are starting a few games here at the Rodgers are based pure;y on Toronto's size and American style. These sports hardly penetrate the other provinces where it's all about the hcokey so not really sure you can compare Canada and the US with England and Scotland.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think Alex Salmond should make a statement on the EPL situation
    (even if he is a Jambo)

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.


    1, Now I do agree "there is a gap in the market" but the fundamental to answer "is there a market in the gap"? And given you nee to “compensate” all relevant bodies for circa £1Billion- see below. A colossal sum to fund just to add two teams, who come from a country, which already has high Sky penetration and would not deliver massive new subscribers to pay for this. So where's the projected ROI?


    2, Not forgetting you need an interlocking simultaneous agreement with FA (£100M)/EPL(£500M)/NATIONWIDE (£300m), SPL(£50M), SFL(£10M), SFA (£50M), UEFA. Given the SPL and SFL can't agree fixture scheduling, this is as challenging as it could get.

    3, The current Sky deal is to 2013? Therefore the Old Firm would have to hand in their notice 2011, not a lot of time for the above to be concluded.

    4, Sky also due to the recession is looking to cut costs/payments and invest in new markets like China and the Far East, not in relatively mature markets like Britain and Scotland, which the latter is under 10% of the UK population

    5, And let's be honest neither are a global brand. Pockets of supporters in a few countries outwith Scotland/ Ireland/ England does not allow for effective monetisation of the "brand heritage" i.e. no profits!!!

    However if they merged they might have the potential to double audiences, reduce costs and become a truly massive club!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    Johhny Default, great point...!!!

    What is so dumbfounding about it? Are you suggesting that, for people to moan and gripe about either Celtic or Rangers, that they don't have to substantiate why, because we should all assume it is sectarian based...? Pure idiocy (and dumbfounding), but well done all the same champ!

    My remarks simply states that, whilst bemoaning either team and not conjuring up a reason, that that hardly equates to a decent point that will further the debate, which is ironically akin to your own.

    My mentioning the sectarianism was one of several points that i arose, good or bad, that should be taken in to account when arguing for and against a move for both teams. I notice you didn’t delve in to too much detail about anything else.

    I take from your post that you are one of the afore mentioned bitter people who can't produce any meaningful points and instead harks on about the sectarianism that blights both sides? A good point in itself (i mentioned it!), even if you couldn’t manage to comment on it yourself, instead leaving us with your in depth ability to copy-and-paste and absolutely nothing else.

    Obviously the bigotry that erupts is a distasteful side of the OF but it is a minority. Not an excuse but both teams over the years have done countless initiatives to deal with it but it still exists, even now, and it will continue to do so. Until it is ended, a move to the EPL will be mere tabloid stories and fanciful dreams.
    It is hardly something you have to buy in to, to support either team and - whilst fools like you clearly tar all OF fans with the same bigotry brush - the vast, vast, VAST majority of fans hate it and don’t want anything to do with it. It is holding both teams back and will continue to do so.

    Looking forward to your next insightful offering though, Johhny, you can only do better.

  • Comment number 83.

    Eddie442 (post 21):

    I think you will find that several billion of 'English' money is, infact, Scotland's. See, 'North Sea Oil' for reference.

  • Comment number 84.

    Would the Auld Firm really give up 3+ seasons of guaranteed CL money just to start at the bottom of the English pyramid? They might not find it quite so easy to get into the PL's top 4 once they finally reach the PL itself if they haven't had the extra cash to rely on.

    On the upside, should they take 1 or 2 of the PL's CL places, it would start to topple the "big 4" dominance (say Arsenal miss out on CL qualification 2-3 three seasons running). On the downside again, it would probably also force the next few clubs out of European running altogether (Tottenham, Villa, Everton, Man City etc) creating a consistent "Top 6".

    Finally an upside for the SPL though, depending on what happened to the UEFA coefficients, would the new look SPL (minus Celtic and Rangers) still keep the current entrance places in the CL and EL? If so, that would mean guaranteed big European matches and wads of £ for the leagues' tope few teams, particularly the leaders. OK, so the coefficient would probably drop after a few seasons, but it would still be some big money to some small clubs for a few seasons, perhaps until a new hierarchy arose to replace the Auld?

  • Comment number 85.

    Number 62 - Rangers are "little bigger" than Leeds and Newcastle? Are you aware that Rangers currently hold every possible record attendance it's possible to hold in your own stadium for every catagory of game ( European,league, cup, league cup and friendly) and Celtic hold the overall record for a European & cup game (albeit at Hampden)

    The main difference between Rangers (and Celtic) and the clubs you name is the mentality of the club itself - Rangers EXPECT to win, always.

    The worldwide support (yes it IS worldwide) puts all but Man United and Liverpool in the shade in England - that support equates into cold hard cash and as everybody has alluded to - money talks - Rangers and Celtic's voice would be very loud indeed

  • Comment number 86.

    Nickstriplights:

    There are many reasons to have issues with the OF that are not founded in sectarianism. Now first off, and please, please read this bit - I know it's not all OF fans and I know enough supporters of both clubs to realise that they're not all the same.

    The behaviour of the rangers away support has long been known to be a disgrace among fans of just about every club i know in Scotland. Calling them violent thugs would be disrespectful to most violent thugs.

    Many people in England are aware of it only through their "star turn" in Manchester for the Uefa cup match.

    I have some good mates who are rangers supporters who don't attend games for this very reason.

    As a Hibs fan we probably get it fairly easy from the celtic lot (at least in the violence stakes) but even then a trip to either of the OF clubs in Glasgow carries with it a threat of violence matched only by an evening out in Basra dressed as Uncle Sam.

    Aside from the violence aspect there's the constant carping about some perceived injustice or other.

    Perfect example was the recent penalty/diving fiasco:

    First up there was the Eduardo penalty.

    Yes it was probably a dive but let's be honest Arsenal were in a different class without even really trying.

    Despite this a great many celtic fans were calling for ridiculous punishment for him.

    Fast forward a week or so and celtic came to Easter Road to play Hibs.
    McGeady runs past Hanlon who doesn't touch him and McGeady dives.

    Now i was as gobsmacked as anyone to see McGeady get sent off - not because it wasn't merited but because the referee didn't bottle it.

    The aftermath of the sending off saw the celtic manager Tony Mowbray (who i normally have a lot of respect for) saying the card was a disgrace.

    There was also his teamate Paul Caddis and hundreds of celtic fans defending the player for his "intelligence". Apparantly he went to ground because he knew he was going to be fouled.

    This kind of defence is insulting to anyone of even the most limited intellect.

    For further hypocrisy please see the constant OF bemoaning of the lack of competition while happily hogging the lions share of the SPL money and grabbing any decent players at other clubs (mostly to let them warm the bench).

    Now i know a lot of this is common to all big clubs. But then so is being disliked by most of the other clubs in the same country.

    Main difference is that there's not quite the same persecution complex.

    Personally, I'm quite happy to see the OF leave (as long as they actually leave and don't try to hedge their bets).

  • Comment number 87.

    Lawrie Reilly,

    I completely understand your points, and where they come from. Obviously anything i say against the Rangers support will be viewed as biased and vice versa but i can openly admit that a lot of the actions, song books and history of both sets of OF fans leaves more than a lot to be desired. To sit and assissinate Rangers would be foolish as it is both teams pushing for a move.
    Obviously, when looking at both temas, then both teams' fans' behaviour must be taken in to account; the attitude of "they are worse than us" won't wash for this sort of desire to play in the EPL.
    In the same way you have friends that won't attent games because of the support, i too have friends who feel this way.

    I live in Glasgow however and i do debate your point about coming to games here: last weekends OF game saw very, very few arrests and the majority of those were for - surprise - being drunk and disorderly.
    I'm not sure you can compare it to being dressed as Uncle Sam in Basra; hyperbole on your part i think, but also an understandable fear that has been bred over many decades of stupid behaviour.

    In regards to the preceived injustices? Well, we get them on both sides. I believe many followers etc were also saying the same for Eduardo about going down, and how he was "clever" to gain a penalty out of it. You will always get arguments for and against, from both sets of fans.
    You could align a lot of your point to the actions and player defences of SAF and AWenger.

  • Comment number 88.

  • Comment number 89.

    Can someone supply some strong evidence to support these Old Firm hoary chestnuts?

    1, Global brand claims i.e. Coke, EPL, Nike etc are, Celtic and Rangers are not. Barcelona/Real Madrid/ Man U are perhaps becoming these.

    2, Massive world wide support- 1ots of supporters's clubs in 3 or four countries does not count!

  • Comment number 90.

    we need to add more teams to the spl not get rid of two. shoould combine spl and 1st division. Would be so much better, get rid of the split its crap anyway.

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 - 3 or 4 countries?

    Britain, Ireland (honestly) Germany, Holland, Spain, Serbia, Austria, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, America, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and China all have supporters clubs (and thats off the top of my head)

    To be fair you'd struggle to get more worldwide than that

  • Comment number 92.

    "The plans would need the support of at least 14 clubs in the English top flight, and convincing another 13 to back his proposals would seem a big ask. What’s in it for them? The line that the legions of Old Firm fans travelling south every weekend would bolster tumbling attendance figures would appear to be nothing more than a myth"

    "According to recent figures, crowds in the Premier League are on the up, with 92% of all seats selling out and away attendances also on the increase. A body not known for making radical decisions would seem to have little need to take the most dramatic step in its short history by inviting in interlopers from the north" THE HERALD 13TH OCTOBER 2009

    So what do the Global Brands then bring to the EPL????

  • Comment number 93.

    My understanding is that the epl is a members league and is not under the same jurisdiction as the championship leagues. With this in mind, that will be why both Celtic and Rangers can be parachuted right into the top flight without having to go through the motions of the lower divisions.

    Lets be honest - what would it prove to see Rangers and Celtic win 5...10 nil every week in leagues 1 and 2? The championship, though slightly trickier, would also be a bit of a breeze.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am sorry but some of the Scottish patriots here are living in a bit of a pipe dream. They may have a large loyal fan base (usually ex pats etc)
    Position (prior year position) Club Revenue (£m) Revenue (€m)
    1 (1) Real Madrid 289.6 365.8
    2 (2) Manchester United 257.1 324.8
    3 (3) FC Barcelona 244.4 308.8
    4 (7) Bayern Munich 233.8 295.3
    5 (4) Chelsea 212.9 268.9
    6 (5) Arsenal 209.3 264.4
    7 (8) Liverpool 167.0 210.9
    8 (6) AC Milan 165.8 209.5
    9 (11) AS Roma 138.9 175.4
    10 (9) Internazionale 136.9 172.9
    11 (12) Juventus 132.6 167.5
    12 (13) Olympique Lyonnais 123.3 155.7
    13 (16) Schalke 04 117.5 148.4
    14 (10) Tottenham Hotspur 114.8 145.0
    15 (15) Hamburger SV 101.3 127.9
    16 (19) Olympique de Marseille 100.4 126.8
    17 (14) Newcastle United 99.4 125.6
    18 (n/a) VfB Stuttgart 88.3 111.5
    19 (n/a) Fenerbahce 88.1 111.3
    20 (n/a) Manchester City 82.3 104.0
    Oki, First of all i know The top 3 on that list, are ridiculas in size, they genuinely do have a global fan base, the fans might not take it seriously but they will buy the shirt the pencils etc...
    "But Mr Poster your silly, its obvious that Man Utd etc get more money than Celtic and Rangers because they get alot of TV Money and sponsorship money 'cause they are in the EPL"
    This is of course true, The EPL is broadcasted in pretty much every country in the world, not because of Hull and Wigan... but MAINLY because of Man Utd (As much as I dont like them!)
    So the SPL TV Deal worth a tiny £100,000,000 over 5 years
    But £1800,000,000 over just 3 years for the EPL.
    IF Celtic and Rangers were TRUELY global clubs, EVERYONE would want to watch them.. thus leading to ALOT more TV revenue.
    I KNOW the list is revenue, but anyone who thinks there is not a link between global support and revenue are quite frankly on a different planet!

  • Comment number 95.

    Why do the Old Firm think having big stadia and lots of fans equals being able to compete with the Top 4 in the EPL if they were in the same league and had the same TV revenue? Newcastle have a staunch support, similar number of season ticket holders and in St James' Park a ground with a bigger capacity than Ibrox which was often sold out for EPL games.Last season Newcastle were relegated because while they had all these things in their favour, they have been useless at signing the right players and appointing a manager who can build a team which uses their squad's talents well and realises their potential.

    Neither half of the OF has a decent track record in terms of being well-run. Despite being in a duoply situation in Scotland where the OF's season ticket sales, sponsorship deals, media exposure sees them with a budget ten times bigger than the other teams in the league Rangers went seasons without winning anything and have almost gone bankrupt in the process.

    Both clubs have been in trouble with UEFA in recent years due to their fans' sectarian chanting in European games, pitches being invaded by fans, or fans rioting on their travels.

    In Scotland the quality of the game has nosedived since the Souness-Murray revolution where Rangers' newfound £millions bought success through buying in imported international players rather than growing and nurturing their own players. In the '80s before the OF money began dominating the top league in Scotland (pre-SPL breakaway), Dundee United and Aberdeen won the league almost as often as the OF did and both New Firm teams regularly did well in Europe, Aberdeen won 2 European trophies and Dundee United played in a few UEFA Cup semi-finals as well as a final. Even other smaller clubs in the league like St Mirren seemed capable of competing for 3rd place for a few years without having their team dismantled by the OF buying up their best performers mid-season (then leaving them on the bench for most of their contracts). Hearts almost won he league in 1986, pre-SPL. Since the SPL kicked in and money began talking louder and louder we've maybe only had 1 or 2 teams who have split the OF in aeons!

    Since the OF drove the SPL breakaway and since the SPL has increasingly revolved around money with the OF getting a bigger and bigger share of the gate money and TV money and media coverage the competition within the league has died. It is the OF who drove through the changes which have killed the league in Scotland and now they complain the league isn't compeitive enough and doesn't allow them to compete in Europe and moan Championship clubs can offer more money in wages than they can due to TV revenue.

    I think it is debatable whether adding the OF to EPL would ever see the Big Four becoming the Super Six. That assumes the OF would consistently finish higher up the league than Manchester City (and no one can compete with them financially within the EPL just now), or Tottenham or Everton or Martin O Neill's Aston Villa all of whom look a lot more likely to pose a sustained challenge to the top 4 in the EPL in the next few years rather than the OF who just get poorer and poorer with each season and show signs of decline.

    The OF's track record of raising and developing their own young players is dire. Their track record on using their huge revenue (compared to other SPL clubs) wisely is dire. Their signing record is dire too with very few out and out successes in recent years. Why do they think that giving them a much bigger budget will suddenly improve their decision making powers... they would be far more likely to go the Newcastle route (struggle to attract the genuinely elite players to Glasgow and pay exorbitent wages to some average players) than become a top 6 or top 4 team within a few years in the league.

    Why is the SPL uncompetive and stagnant and why are our teams like Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs so poor? Any time a player like Willo Flood, Barry Robson, Derek Riorden, Alan Gow, Andy Webster etc show any signs of performing well for a sustained period of time and helping their clubs take points off the OF in head to head fixtures the OF sign the players in question and usually leave them on the bench. Result: the OF pay higher wages to players who don't improve their squad much (which does the OF no long-term good) and Dundee United / Hearts / Falkirk etc lose one of their match winning players and become weaker and struggle to replace them for the money the OF paid to sign them... and the OF are increasingly waiting t get these players on a Bosman (cue Andy Dorman?)

    I'd happily see the OF leave the SPL, and would hope we would add more teams to the top league and play each other twice a year in the league and move towards rearing our own young players again. I'd also like to see the balance shifting back towards the clubs a bit more as player power has gone too far with clubs spending silly money on wages for guys who are average in terms of kill and ability and shocking in terms of loyalty to their clubs. Let's see less live broadcasts of games and games being switched to Sundays and Mondays and a better highlights package.

    I'm sure the top league would survive well without the Old Firm. Ok we would have a lower TV deal in the short term. Since live broadcasts of games have gone out regularly on TV the attendances in the grounds have been hammered. Rangers and Celtic don't always sell out their 2-3k seats at Greenhill Road and there are plenty of non-OF fans who stay away (or leave their kids at home) when their teams play the OF because of the atmosphere at those games as well as more casual fans who turn out to see their teams play an OF team. I think if we had a new top league without the OF and we saw that league become competitive, with less emphasis on survivng the drop and with teams playing more attacking football and with more young Scottish players in those teams that over time the crowds would come back.

    I also think BBC Scotland, STV and the written press need to do more to balance things up. Why do we get highlights from the lowest English league games in Scotland on a Saturday night but have to wait until Monday night for our top Scottish teams to get the same coverage on BBC Scotland... are there really more Wycombe Wanderers fans in Scotland following their team's fortunes on BBC Scotland than Hibs fans? Why has the BBC got money to cover the lower leagues in England yet BBC Scotland can't put in a decent bid when Steanta goes under? BBC usually finds the money to buy the rights to England's games but struggle to cover Scotland. It's time a broadcaster like the BBC evened up some of the inequalities in TV revenue generated by Rupert Murdoch and Sky instead of following them down the same route. It's also time the written press stopped treating the OF differently from the rest of the SPL in terms of coverage. Before an OF game we get a week's build up at least where 90% of the football coverage that week will feature old OF players sharing memories of OF games gone by, spotlights on players who may make their OF debuts, a review of last season's encounters and a preview and interviews relating to the game coming up, while the other 5 SPL fixtures get 10% of the newspaper coverage between them. If TV and the newspaper cover the OF to such a degree is it any wonder more people turn out and watch them? Even when rangers played Queen of the South in the CIS Cup last month in The Herald there were days of build-up coverage, then the match report included player by player ratings, a rating of the referee etc, pages of after match interviews, yet when 2 SPL teams played each other in the same round of the same competition the build up pre-match was 1 column and the matc report was half a page for Kilmarnock v St Mirren rather than a 2 page spread for Queen of the South v Rangers (which was also broadcast live on BBC Scotland!)... oh and to find the half page report on Kilmarnock v St Mirren you had to wade past 5 pages of OF news (Celtic assistant manager complaining about Glenn Loovens appeal delay, Celtic team news ahead of CIS Cup game v Falkirk, Rangers v Queen of the South build up!).

  • Comment number 96.

    reply to #86

    Lawrie Reilly are you forgetting that if only the ref had awarded Rangers a first half penalty against Seville in the Champions League they might have won or drawn the match instead of being pumped 1-4 at home?

    :)

  • Comment number 97.

    You would also expect that other SPL teams might benefit in the long run from some current OF fans deciding that instead of going to watch Portsmouth v Celtic and travel to the far south of England for an away match that they will go and take in a game as a neutral at their nearest SPL match. The chances are that travellong to away games in England would be a novelty which would soon wear off due to higher ticket prices, higher travel costs, and is Rangers V Wigan really a more mouthwatering game than Aberdeen v Rangers to your average Rangers fan? Also if it happened that there was regular trouble occuring at the games some OF fans might also decide to switch to local SPL teams. Lets also imagine that instead of switching to the EPL and assuming that within a few seasons the OF automatically reach top 6 every season status that they end up mid-table and no longer qualifying for either Champions League or Europa League, will they attract lots of better players on the basis of being around teh same level as Fulham or Everton, and would fans used to regular SPL league titles, cup victories and runs in the Champions League and Europa Cup be happy to settle for mid-table in the EPL (or worse) and no European games. Are Stoke going to bring many more away fans to Ibrox or Parkhead than Hearts? Will the Sky money for EPL keep on increasing or will things level out and what if teh TV money bursts or decereases in EPL after Rangers and Celtic sign up?

  • Comment number 98.

    Just one thing which most journalists seem to have forgotten in the midst of all this - if the Ugly Sisters are allowed to move to England then why can't the like of Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United follow suit? I am sure that all these clubs would revel in the increased revenue from TV money and the increased gates from playing new and more exciting teams. They are bigger than a fair number of the Championship clubs and would no doubt expand if given the same TV money as the teams in England.

    There is no way you can allow 2 teams to go and not allow the others if they wish to go south

  • Comment number 99.

    No media company in the world would want to pay the cash for a non-Old Firm SPL - the entire market is about 50,00 people.
    With no TV coverage and no Old Firm pay-days, money would very quickly dry-up and i fear the SPL would become part-time or disolve completely.
    Also the clubs will be so poor and the co-efficent would drop so much, that no Scottish club would qualify through the European peliminary rounds ever again.

    No matter how much you may dislike the Old Firm, only a fool couldn't see that the very existence and economy of Scottish football are entirely dependant on them.

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't understand why anyone thinks the OF would automatically challenge the established "big 4" just because they were admitted to the Premier League. This is pure conjecture, much like saying "IF we had scored first, we'd have won". There's just no way of knowing this. The OF record against English clubs is so-so, giving no reason to beleive that this would be substantially improved just because they were competing more regularly.

    As for the comment that OF grounds "dwarf" most Prem grounds - this is just not the case. Ibrox may be larger than Wigan, Hull, Portsmouth, but not much bigger than Everton, Villa, Liverpool, and smaller than Man City and Man Utd. As one poster commented, since when has having a big ground been a recipe for success?

    Then we have the global brands argument. I doubt if sales of OF merchandise world-wide are anywhere near those of the really big clubs, and moving to the Prem League is unlikely to make a significant impact (unless they won actually something!).

    What is required is a total reconstruction of Scottish football to ensure a more competitive environment, which would in turn improve attendances, generating more income and hopefully TV money. In the current economic climate, the product has to be exceptional to encourage consumers to part with their hard-earned. Sadly, this will never happen because the OF have a vested interest in retaining the status quo (if they can't leave they want to retain domination), and would veto any changes. The only way, perhaps, to force the issue, would be for all non-OF clubs to resign from the SPL and form a new competition. This just might concentrate the minds of the OF and the governing bodies to take a long hard look at all levels of the game, and try to find a way to establish a set-up fit for purpose, where the OF and all other clubs could flourish.

 

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