BBC BLOGS - Jim Spence
« Previous | Main | Next »

Time for the Old Firm to go away

Post categories:

Jim Spence | 13:08 UK time, Friday, 20 May 2011

For the good of Scottish football, Celtic and Rangers must now be helped to leave for England.

In fact they should be actively encouraged.

It would be a win win situation, benefiting both them and the clubs left behind.

The Old Firm are the elephant in Scottish football's living room, squashing everyone else, whichever way they turn.

The danger now, is that after almost three decades of bumping other clubs around in their duopolistic battle for the title, their dominance is slowly suffocating the life out of the other clubs and their fans.

After 26 seasons of winning Scotland's top league between them, it is now clear that no one else can ever hope to challenge them again for the top honour.

Arguments that it is the same in other countries are irrelevant.

Nowhere else is there such an unbridgeable financial chasm between two clubs and the rest - and it is not the Old Firm's fault.

Through a combination of factors ranging from their individual history and traditions, good marketing, population base, ease of travel and the Bosman ruling, the pair have simply outgrown their domestic environment.

They are the equivalent of teenagers still at nursery school.

For others to have any chance of competing again, Celtic and Rangers would have to shrink in size.

That is of course a real worry: that in such an unhealthily moribund environment, their own fans, bored with the lack of serious competition, will stop buying their season tickets in their current huge numbers, shrinking the Old Firm back to where they used to be: dominant, but not nearly as dominant as at present.

That will not be allowed to happen.

They are two huge businesses, and, to grow, they need a more fertile landscape than Scotland can offer.

Try to imagine a world without them.

Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen would be the biggest clubs, but they would not have anywhere near ten times the financial muscle of the rest - as is currently the case with the Old Firm.

Dundee United, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and others, would all have a fighting chance of the top honours.

Clubs like Dunfermline, Dundee, Falkirk and Partick Thistle would find themselves in a newly energised top league and with real chance of competing to win the SPL.

The world changes, and football changes with it.

British football once rejected European competition, now the Champions league final is the Holy Grail for all.

A European league is probably inevitable, and money will continue to drive football as it drives everything else.

So let Scottish football flourish and let the Old Firm flourish as well, but not here.

Celtic and Rangers could thrive in the Premier League.

And Scottish football could thrive without them.

It's a win-win situation.

As for the argument that it would affect our international status, if the SNP government can contemplate a future independent Scotland sharing areas like defence and social security with the rest of what would be left of the UK, then why should allowing two Scottish teams to play in England - be that radical and dangerous.

Next season, Swansea may be in the Premiership, so there is precedent.

So let the Old Firm go, they and the Scottish game will both be the better for it.

In fact, if the big Scottish clubs were really ambitious, they would be looking themselves to join the Championship, but that's for another day and another blog.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    One BIG problem - England doesn't want them !

    But everything you say is correct.

    Perhaps their Reserves should join the league that Gretna used to be in and gradually work their way up. Take a few years though.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree totally Jim and have been saying exactly this for some time.
    Scottish football will never improve as long as OF dominate every season and you are right to worry about the support dropping, look at the complaints about playing the same teams so many times in a season.
    The only downside maybe an even worse TV deal or no TV deal for SPL at least in the first season or two.

    It may even be the case that the bigoted factions would disappear in time as the wider world took hold.

    As a Celtic fan I would be delighted to move to England and would even be willing to start in League 2 if that's what it took but I think the Championship wpuld be more realistic.

  • Comment number 3.

    Can't say that I am as much in agreement as Piorek is with the analysis. Certainly the key elements about the disparity are right but the proposed solution less sound. I also agree that the fan base, access to EPL funds etc could make both a credible force in UK football - Over the last fifty years we have seen both give as good as they get when there was a level playing field.

    However, for me the solution is not as simple as chasing them out of Scotland - one in three people attending a game on match day go to see an old firm game. For me we need to consider action closer to home and address some of the previously designated 'no-go' areas. We have too many teams in Scotlad chasing too few punters - as we will see tomorrow at Hampden the number of so called Well fans that show up who are marked absent all year will make the point as starkly as anything. Being a supporter means giving support - turning up, paying the cash, buying the merchandise etc. Small cities in UK terms just cannot support two or three clubs any longer and two strong leagues could be better than the long tail od small clubs we have.

    secondly we need more variety - UK Cup, wider European involvement could add revenues when fewer league games are played etc.

    Lets address the things we can and should - not throw the problem over the wall (or border), its the Scottish way to hanker after the old traditions long after the cease to be relevant.

    If everybody who claims to be a supporter did so we would have a thriving and vibrant game, TV would be more interested and we would have a virtuous circle instead of the vicious one we seem locked into.

    Anyway - off to look out my scarf, good luck to the lads tomorrow!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I have been an advocate of your solution for some time Jim. The problem is that England do not want them. Given that Alex Salmond has just said that their poison will be stopped with the full force of the law is very welcome but simply highlights that no-one else will take them on.

    I am sick and tired of OF fans wondering why fans of other clubs scramble for tickets should their team be lucky enough to make a final. I will tell you why. I have lived in the North for 30 years. I used to be a season ticket holder in the distant past. I still get to Hibs games up here, every one. Getting a final ticket is a must !
    How many 'Well fans that are not back home feel the same ?

    Incidentally how many of these fans sit and weep as the local buses leave for Ibrox or Celtic Park. I will join Jim and nail my colours to the mast. Scottish football without the OF would be a calmer and more competive place.

    It would be difficult at first but we would survive. The snag is Jim, and I repeat myself, who the hell wants them ?

  • Comment number 5.

    Its true, England doesn't really want or need the OF which you can agree with! As for Swansea setting a precedent, you must remember that Cardiff and them have committed to English football for decades and the only reason the OF is interested now is because of the money!

  • Comment number 6.

    4 BaldyHibby

    Agreed they are not wanted at the moment, but finance is a powerful motivator.

    If the Old Firm could bring extra revenue into the English set up, who knows how welcome they might be, if they can rid themslves of some of their baggage.

    The claim can be overblown but there is no doubt that they are both bigger clubs than all but a handful in England.

    The Premiership is stale, with only three or four clubs having any chance of winning it. New blood and new revenue might well appeal.

    Meantime the Scottish game would re invent itself, stop foolish comparisons with a neighbour ten times its size, and live within its means.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Next season, Swansea may be in the Premiership, so there is precedent"

    What precedent exactly? That a team from another country can rise from the bottom of the league ladder over several decades? Are either half of the Old Firm going to be happy with that? This 'precedent' doesn't into account the fact that Swansea and Cardiff have played in the English leagues since their founding.

    Yet another sad example of a Scottish journalist churning out nonsense without considering something as time-consuming as fact-checking. Its been a dismal year year for Scottish football journalism, and this piece just about puts a lid on the season.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you really are missing the point with this devils advocacy Jim!

    Big clubs are a problem in many European Leagues. The answer is not England now and it never will be - only a complete idiot would want to go the debts of the Greed League. We'd get tired of all the anti-Scottish stuff pretty quickly. Our biggest clubs would be bought over by some Arab or American Sports Investor with an FA thats even worse and more inept than our own. I'm not sure this would be a good move for anyone. Sign your own club up to massive debts Jim and tell us how it goes!!

    Why should the bust up of national leagues begin with a move to England? Answer me this, if Man U can get to play the OF and access the monies it would generate plus the fan spectacle, why can't they just go the whole hog and play the likes of Inter, AC Milan, Barca, Real, etc as well in a league format? Why can't the OF do that as well and start the process. In terms of fan base and appeal they can comfortably compete with most of the Greed League teams.

    A European League system is a better answer for all of our bigger clubs: sensible spending regulation and better technical standards of teams (with implications for improved players at home).

    Think Europe not Engerlund.

    In the meantime I'm with Uriah on thinking about pooling economies of scale in the Scottish game. The industrial revolution and age of empire that saw the growth of our clubs is over.

    Meanwhile this weather system mving in tomorrow will make a very very even Scottish . Hope the ref isn't too fussy and we get a game.

  • Comment number 9.

    Of course I meant an even Scottish Cup Final. Apologies. Looking forward to it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Could not agree more Jim.

    They would be very big fish indeed in the EPL. They (EPL) need an injection of interest, as you suggest, and the OF would certainly provide that. I have no wish to drag a football blog into the political world, but I sense a new confidence. Why not ? It does appear that the government have had enough of the baggage.

    Non OF Scottish football would be vibrant, and competitive. I remember the excitement, and the crowds, when Hibs won the first division. What was that all about ? We were about to win something.

    Imagine Hibs or Hearts, or anyone else, at Tannadice last game of the season. Utd. need a point to win the title, Hibs need a win. Empty seats ? Don't think so. Bring it on !

    Ach Jim. Will it happen ?

  • Comment number 11.

    How many new fans will clubs like St Mirren and Kilmarnock attract when Rangers and Celtic regularly welcome Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal to Glasgow?

    How many people will want to watch the SPL without Rangers and Celtic?

    If people want Rangers and Celtic to play elsewhere, they'll need to be prepared to watch semi-professional football because that will be the outcome for the other Scottish clubs.

  • Comment number 12.

    Jim, please please, with the next 5 years, do not encourage Rangers and Celtic to join the EPL. I agree 100% that it would improve the Scottish game BUT...the unionists of this world will use it as yet another 'good reason' why Scotland should not become independent from the UK. Anything that can possibly discredit our chances of becoming an independent country should be firmly locked away until 'afterwards'! In fact, I would not be at all surprised if the Powers That Be will see to it that the move does happen before we get to that referendum. I can hear the Newsnight presenter now..."But your two biggest football clubs play in the English league, for God's sake!"

  • Comment number 13.

    In Spain, only Barcelona and Real Madrid have any chance of winning their league. Are you proposing that these two move to the EPL as well? The same is true in the Scandinavian countries, but I don't see them applying for EPL status. Jim, when you were a lad (and even when I was), the Scottish league was a hundred times better than it is now. We know that. The thing the experts need to solve is WHAT WENT WRONG. I'm tired of this fatalistic view of everything Scottish...'aw nobody will ever win except Rangers or Celtic, so we might as well forget their 100+ years in the Scottish league and see if we can get them into a foreign league'. Come on! Why not push for real and lasting change by trying to stop - or at least limit - the amount of foreign players in the league. Didn't the Bundesliga do something similar? The clubs in the Bundesliga came together and agreed upon a strategy that would see their league strengthened, but - more importantly - ensure that the German national team would have a constant supply of excellent German footballers. They've succeeded. Why can't we at least TRY to have the Scottish clubs show the same kind of vision? If Rangers and Celtic were only allowed 3 foreign players in each of their squads, of course they'd still pick the cream of the Scottish crop. But if we are resigned to saying that the entire country can only produce enough half-decent players to fill their two sides, then we really do have problems. Okay, the quality might be poor in the beginning, but lets try to look at the long-term. And what's happening regarding have one body in charge of Scottish football? I wish Alex Salmond would intervene and scrap the current format for managing the game. And there must be hundreds of ex-professionals who'd be willing to give up some of their time to coach kids in a national football academy, where school kids could train (their skills, not their competitiveness) during evenings and weekends. Things like that can make a real difference! Please, lets have more positive ideas than the Big Two heading to England.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry to post again, but I had another little thought. Say Rangers and Celtic move to England. Within 5 or 10 years, I am absolutely sure a new Big Two would emerge in Scottish football (perhaps Hearts and Dundee Utd, at first). And as they slowly begin to reel in the Champions League money, the gap would again increase...with little or no Scottish players in either team. Then what? Move them to the EPL? 10 years later, there would be another Big Two...Aberdeen and Hibs perhaps. And so it goes on. Unless our country finds a way of limiting the number of foreign players in our leagues and can cap the salaries offered in the SPL, I dont believe there is any chance we will see marked improvement in our club or national game.

  • Comment number 15.

    The biggest thing in all this nonsense as has been said earlier is that they would not be leaving. There would still be a game at Ibrox or Parkhead in Glasgow every week clashing with the Scottish league games, probably live on Sky as often as not, as you can be damned sure Sky would be out to strangle interest in what was left of the Scottish game as soon as it could. You can bang on as often as you like about the vibrant Scottish game that would be left behind if the old firm went to England, but that is nothing more than than delusion and denial. If you want a peek into the future of what football will become, just remember when Man. Utd withdrew from the FA cup a few years ago to play that ludicrous tournament against the worlds other "Glamour" sides - live on pay tv- in half empty stadiums at 3 am British time. Go back to two leagues of 16 teams, playing each other home and away- simples. The argument will be as always Tv won't go for it, they want the 4 old firm games. Yes they do, but they have absolutely no interest in the long term future of football.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well said dd23. Television and the Old Firm need to be told that they do not rule Scottish football. Scottish football is made up of dozens of professional clubs and hundreds of thousands of non-Old Firm fans. If we live in a democracy, Television and the Old Firm only represent a very small voice in the game.

  • Comment number 17.

    Rangers and Celtic in the EPL would just increase the size of them both and shrink the support and status of the SPL, it is a crazy idea. Look at the Welsh League, tiny crowds and little media coverage. If Swansea, Cardiff, Wrexham and Newport joined the league the standard, crowds, media coverage etc would increase massively even allowing for the fact that Swansea and Cardiff would be the Welsh Old Firm. Celtic and Rangers should remain in the Scottish League but the SPL should make radical changes. More Summer matches, more 'partnerships' with EPL clubs to allow talented fringe players the chance to play in Scotland, play offs and an expanded league.

  • Comment number 18.

    They should stay . If the SFA and the fans want a more competive league they should look at the teams outside the old firm .
    4 teams qualify for eruope every year yet only two tend to be there for any lenght of time , why?
    The league is non-competive , why?
    Players leave the SPL to join english Championship sides , why?
    There are probably many more questions and they probably inter-link with the others and maybe some of the answers .
    The SPL is too small , playing each other 4 times , no please ,this just breeds static tactics and stale league structure . 16 teams , 3 down at the end of season , no play-offs no mini-leagues . This would encourage a new invigoured freshness to the fixtures , and -bonus- only 2 OF matches in the SPL !! A 30 game calendar would allow extra focus on Europe for all clubs , plus added insentive for the cup competetions , losing 8 league fixtures means you need to make up gate revenue through longer cup runs .
    Its only an idea but blaming the OF for all the leagues woes is not what is needed , it really only stop the harder more important questions being asked.When they get answered the league can only improve .

  • Comment number 19.

    What utter bunkum!

    Scottish football would be like the League of Wales without Rangers and Celtic.

    Atm, with a tv deal, some SPL clubs can afford only £500 a week max. in wages; take away 1/3 of their income and IT ALL comes off the player budget.

    What are the young players to aspire to, if they don't have the chance of showcasing their talents on television, if they can no longer hope of being picked up by the OF because our scouts are at far better leagues, because, getting EPL riches, we no longer need or want the Steven Whittakers or Kirk Broadfoots of this World?
    Where is the justification for central funding of coaching of young talent, when football is supported at the same level as rugby?
    Where are the clubs to find the money for their coaching programmes?

    The idea that the yawning chasm will close if the Old Firm leave is an utter nonsense too.
    Hearts and Hibs will be streets ahead of everyone else, Aberdeen and Dundee Utd may be able to remain full-time, the rest will be part-time.
    The chasm will still exist, but at a lower level.

    Where is the compensation that the SPL pays to the SFL to be found, when there is no Old Firm to fund it?
    Not sure, but isn't it itro £1.5m per annum?
    If the OF-free SPL has to find it, what impact will it have on the game at the top level?
    If the SPL no longer pays it, how many local clubs will go to the wall?

    Think our league is boring and low in entertainment now? Take away the OF and you'll have to hold a mirror to its face.

    The trouble is, that once again, too many blame success as the problem.
    The real problem is the lack of ambition at smaller clubs, with their cosy-cosy relationships with "real fans" (mugs who turn up no matter what guff is served) and demonisation of "glory hunters (perhaps just fans who, heaven forbid, actually want a reasonable standard of entertainment for their hard-earned).

    If some of those smaller clubs were to actually try to raise the standard of player in their sides, take a few risks to improve the quality of the game, with the hope that we can attract a few more through the turnstiles, then and only then, might we see a renaissance in the game.

    "Get rid of what quality we have to improve the game." You've excelled even yourself this time Mr Spence.

  • Comment number 20.

    8.Rob : A European League system is a better answer for all of our bigger clubs: sensible spending regulation and better technical standards of teams (with implications for improved players at home).


    A European League will not happen.

    It will not happen because, no matter how successful it would be, it could never generate the finances for Man Utd that the CL and EPL combined do, or La Liga and CL generate for Barca and Real, or Bundesliga and CL for Bayern, etc. etc.

    Give up that idea now; it won't happen.

  • Comment number 21.

    The support payment form the SPL to the SFL is £1.8m pa.

  • Comment number 22.

    If the Old Firm leave, you might as well wrap up the SPL too. As has been pointed out, the OF wouldn't be moving 120 miles down the road; they'd still be in Glasgow every second week, playing the EPL sides. What would you rather watch: Rangers vs Man Utd or St Mirren v Partick Thistle (absolutely no offence intended)? As a customer and as a football fan, it's a no brainer.

    Sort out the gaping inequalities of the SPL; too much cash in the pockets of too few; no incentive for playing youth; too small a league so that a run of bad results can cripple your season; journeyman foreign players taking wages that could and perhaps should be paid to homegrown talent; the list goes on.

    Where is our fighting spirit? Why should we just throw the towel in now, especially when the OF are (IMO) as weak as they ever have been and certainly at their weakest since Hearts nearly won it in '86? If Hearts are able to invest and retain this summer, they could conceivably challenge for the title. If the OF were ever going to leave, it would've been in the early part of the last decade when Rangers and Celtic could play anybody in Europe at home with reasonable confidence in winning.

  • Comment number 23.


    I disagree. A European League was a non-starter pre-CL but since then this tournament has evolved into a format where the group and knockout games give a taster of what could happen. The current format was designed by UEFA to prevent a breakaway by the G14. But the CL is all about the clubs from the Big 5. Rangers, Celtic, PSV, Ajax all have as much chance of winning it (or even getting to the Semi's) as Ayr Utd have of ever winning the SPL.

    A TV and marketing deal that involves the big clubs in say a two tier league format (the CL group phase equivalent) plus cup competitions (the CL knockout) could comfortably compete financially with what these clubs can generate within their own national borders. And then you throw in the added possibility of a inter-continental cup against teams in the emerging markets of Asia, and you can see where I'm going with this one.

    There are plenty of commentators already who speculate on when (and not if) this will happen, and in Scotland both Walter Smith and Gordon Strachan have aired similar views in recent seasons. The Europa League will not and does not generate adequate levels of finance for the mid-level European teams like Rangers and Celtic. Nor for the likes of Ajax, PSV and clubs who can no longer compete at the top end in the CL. The movement may just as likely come from below (call it an Atlantic league whatever) as above.

    And its all got more chance of happening than the OF entering the greed league.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Arguments that it is the same in other countries are irrelevant."

    Says the plonker ,Jim Spence !

    Why on earth should the TWO teams who have brought the most footballing honours to Scotland abandon their fan bases North of the border and desert to a foreign country called England ? Is it because your inferior team might then have some form of chance ,in a truly pathetic league ,that probably no one would interested enough in to follow ,or even care about ?

    You would also immediately lose ,probably all representation in Europe ........ thankfully , as even the big two seem to struggle there , could you even begin to imagine the smaller clubs in the European Championships....... no , exactly , it would be beyond a joke. Some people , sespecially "football writers like Jim Spence" really need to grow up and learn to shut up , if all they can talk is drivel !

    BTW , apart from anything else ...... who else in Scotland could realsistically even afford to buy Parkhead or Ibrox ? Could someone get that lad Spence a good dose of reality medicine , he looks as if he is suffering from terminal fantasy land syndrome ,or maybe that is his problem , too much "medication" ?

  • Comment number 25.

    Well said dd23. Television and the Old Firm need to be told that they do not rule Scottish football. Scottish football is made up of dozens of professional clubs and hundreds of thousands of non-Old Firm fans. If we live in a democracy, Television and the Old Firm only represent a very small voice in the game.

    They do rule Scottish football in the same way that Barca and Real rule La Liga. And 'tail does not wag dog' as David Murray once said.

    There may be hundreds of thousands non-OF fans but these (if these numbers really exist) are fragmented across so many clubs in Scotland that it adds up to a very small hill of beans. Most of the attendance figures are OF fans. Too many teams competing for dwindling numbers of fans.

    TV provides £65m into the Scottish game. Its not enough and not enough people come along or will ever come along to replace that hole.

    Why not though turn this arguement on its head and instead of getting rid of the OF look to build clubs who can get closer to compete. Lets get rid of many of the small toon teams in the Scottish division; amalgamate the Dundee clubs (Dundee FC will be out of the game soon enough anyway); combine the Edinburgh teams; combine the likes of Motherwell and Hamilton; continue to laugh at the inability of AFC to even compete with their peers; develop teams in the New Towns and growing centres of population.

    There is a lot of sense in the underlying basis of #3's arguement and he is right. Today will be the annual outing for many who wouldn't otherwise go near Fir Park or the likes of Tannadice or Pittodrie. I'm sure they can come on this blog and wrap themselves in their standard comfort blanket that its all really the fault of the OF and that everything would be okay if they left but really their clubs have no one but themselves to blame for the lack of competition in the SPL.

  • Comment number 26.

    To those comparing Scotland and Wales pipe down a minute and consider the difference.
    Wales and Scotland are totally different. Wales is a rugby country generally and Scotland football first (although I love both).

    Also why should Rangers and Celtic jump ahead of AFC Wimbledon, they have a history in the league and have worked hard to get up to the edge of the Football League yet two teams who are known trouble just get parachuted in, that's not fair. How would the OF feel if Real Madrid parachuted into the SPL it would totally mess up their chances of winning and RM hadn't done anything to deserve their place.

    Also actually I would rather watch Hibs and without the OF maybe ticket prices will hit a realistic level and Hibs will be able to live within our means. It wasn't one of the other 10 SPL clubs owing loads to the taxman and in so much debt, it was oh so perfect OF team Rangers so you have no right lecturing us about living within our means, I hope you do go to England and Whyte is found to be a pauper so you finally go out of business.

  • Comment number 27.

    If you take the Old Firm out of the SPL, it will be competative for 1 season and then the league winners get handed Champions League qualification and the £15m that goes with it, the rest of the SPL would have no chance catching a team that had that much extra money as we can all see right now.

    Also, if the SPL would be better without the old firm, why isn't the first divison better supported? These would be the teams invited to join a revamped non old firm SPL and only Falkirk could manage to average over 50% stadium capacity this season, the other 9 teams averaged less than 40% stadium capacity and Cowdenbeath averaged under 900 people per game.

    The Old Firm are not the reason Scottish football is a mess, they are just a convenient excuse for the rest.

  • Comment number 28.

    Rob 04.

    Your argument is well thought out and put, but I feel that perhaps you have overlooked one thing; distribution of revenues.

    In order to pay the very top clubs from the big 5 leagues similar to what they get atm from their domestic leagues, (and remember that it's not an equitable payout throughout the league) you would be reliant upon subscriptions to pay tv, and advertising revenues, which would need to be at least a similar level to those existing for national leagues atm, whilst simultaneously competing with the national leagues. You'd be relying on the same number of subscriptions in each country as there are for domestic leagues, and that would require the supporters of all the other clubs to buy into it.
    The extra advertising revenues, where are they coming from?

    Furthermore, Real and Barca, at the very least, are allowed by La Liga to negotiate their own media deals and raise huge revenues from them.
    €150m per season each.
    Clubs throughout Europe, including the OF, webcast their matches outwith their domestic territories atm.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't see this happening. How will the champions league allocation be sorted for the English teams. The English teams will reject it as the likes of spurs, liverpool and man city that wants champions league football won't want even more competition.

  • Comment number 30.

    24 tomfer.

    No need for the "Plonker" bit........If you want to make reasoned argument that's fine. The vast majority of those replying to my blogs make their case eloquently and passionately. Very often they disagree strongly with my views, but they conduct themselves with decorum and dignity.

    They have the ability to argue the toss with me and fellow respondents without resorting to cheap shots.

    If you want to indulge in name calling perhaps you'd be better off on the kind of boards which indulge that juvenile behaviour.

  • Comment number 31.

  • Comment number 32.

    Jim, are we not too bogged down in the idea of the celtic-rangers duopoly? You say they have had a duopolistic strangehold on the title for nearly three decades, however that's not strictly true; they have only regularly occupied first and second place together since 1995, a little over a decade and a half. Prior to that there is simply no history of a duopoly (in the sense that "other" teams could only finish third at best), in fact the record of celtic and rangers finishing first and second together is a measly 5 years, between 1965 and 1970. Throughout the rest of Scottish footballing history, until a mere 16 years ago, there was ALWAYS a challenge from "another" team.

    (That is not to deny the old firm's dominance in terms of championships won, but at least when the other clubs were challenging there would often be a Hearts, Hibs or Aberdeen who would break through and actually win it)

    Whilst since 1995 Celtic and Rangers have become huge commercial enterprises while the other clubs have floundered, this is not enough of an excuse for the failue of the other teams to mount a challenge. I don't think we're nearly ambitious enough any more. Why shouldn't Hearts, Hibs, Dundee United, Aberdeen and others at least AIM to win the title? "Ah, but you can't compete with the old firm"... Well that's handy, because you only have to play them 8 times. That leaves 30 other games in which to pick up enough points to mount a challenge. Be better than the rest then see where it takes you. You never know.

    We are far too defeatist, far to happy finish third. Hearts this season were never going to sustain a challenge because deep down they were too satisfied at merely being the best of the rest. It was little wonder they fell away in the end. I long for the day that another team views second place as failure.

    We need more ambition, we need clubs to adopt more of a winning mentality to give their fans something to buy into, we need another handful of clubs to at least WANT to win the league and forget this phoney way of finishing third or, even worse, getting into the top six.

    Keep celtic and rangers here. Demand more of our other clubs. Stop letting chairmen and managers away with defeatism, it just gives them an excuse for their own shortcomings. Let's raise the bar and change the mindset. Then we'll get the crowds back.

    Winner takes all. Anything less is not good enough.

  • Comment number 33.

    May I ask you a direct question Mr Spence?

    Where do you propose that the £1.8m in support payment, that the SPL currently gives to the SFL, comes from if Rangers and Celtic leave the SPL?

  • Comment number 34.

    Have been watching the Scottish Challenge Cup Final and noticed the sectarian singing comments by the commentators.

    I never really noticed any sectarian singing, but am thoroughly disgusted by this turn of events - anyone know what sectarian songs were being sung by the Celtic support?

    Jim, any chance of some additional comments from Rob about this?

    I'm sick of the religious nonsense attached to football these days.

  • Comment number 35.

    I have no idea why this debate has been has been hijacked by so many OF apologists. Or perhaps I do.

    The idea that the OF would defect to England was first muted by .... the OF ! Both Chairmen are on record, in recent memory, bemoaning the lack of of opportunities should they remain within Scottish football. They were thwarted in this ambition as the EPL did not want them. Hardly surprising really.

    Why not ? The argument was that a number of English clubs were worried about the competion which is fair enough. Self interest is something that the OF understand well enough. They have shared the same sponsor since such was allowed, and have never voted against each other in The SPL.

    I have no wish to repeat myself. #10 is how I feel Scottish football would go without the OF. I could be talking rubbish, I often do, but why not ?

    Money is not the be all and all. Scottish football would find it's level financially and go forward accordingly. Comparisons with Wales and Ireland, while valid, ignore the fact that we Scots are predominantly a football nation.

    I am also puzzled by some of the 'solutions' given by contributors who advocate merging teams so that we can simply compete with the OF. To suggest that Edinburgh should have a single team is so breathtaking in it's arrogance tells me that OF fans don't have a clue.

    As to the sectarian question. OF apologists must realise that it must stop. I suspect that I am not alone. Hibs, Hearts, and possibly Aberdeen have issues. They are minor compared with the poison from the OF.

    Alex Salmond is not about to miss and hit the wall. Strathclyde police have already called for OF games to be behind closed doors given the disgraceful scenes this season. New legislation may just force you to look elsewhere. Who knows, It might be England.

    Jim has set this hare running. He has received abuse for sticking his head above the parapet. I'm with him. OF fans need to have a good hard look at themselves.

  • Comment number 36.

    Jim England is never going to be an option for the old firm. In the past I had thought this was an option but until the old firms fans clean up their act they are certainly not welcome in England if the views of the fans on this football stadium forum are anything to go by.
    The only way they could get out would be for some sort of European structure to be set up but I can see the mid level Premiership teams not wanting to lose their TV cash when Man U and Chelsea go off to earn even more money in a European structure.

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.


    Tellingly Alex Salmond and the Police Union's spokesman have said pretty much nothing after the real shame game this season (Hearts v Celtic at Tynecastle).

    I'm guessing that the elections being past by that point had little to do with that though.

    Strathclyde police and the SNP lost all credibility with regards football after praising the behaviour of c20,000 fans singing racist songs at a National Cup Final in March, stating that they hoped such behaviour would continue into the night and beyond.

  • Comment number 39.


    I wasn't providing an economic map to a Euro League, only taking one possible next step from the current CL. Distribution of revenues is an issue yes but not an insurmountable one. After all bumper TV contracts are time limited and can shift away from national leagues leaving room for other broadcasters. People subscibe to see big games.

    Barca/Real is a farce. Astonished the others allowed it. There were protests this year in La Liga. It might not always be so: it takes two clubs to play a game.


    Thought someone would come back on my suggestion of 'Heart of Hibernain'. Competition partly relies on economies of scale: too many clubs competing for fans Hibby and the 'gap' is too big to bridge for most and will be for some time. I have some sympathy with the poster who queried the perception of the OF duopoly but since only 16 or 17 non-OF teams have actually won the Scottish title since 1893, the outcomes suggest the strength of their dominance with the occasional 'blip' from other competitors.

    They are too big for the Scottish League I would agree with that. Could the league survive without them? I'm an optimist on it so I'd like to say yes and hope that one duoploy wouldn't simply just be replaced by another.

    Personally though I think you are stuck with us for the near future. There will be no move to England that is for sure. They don't want us and I'm not convinced OF fans want them either.

    On sectarian problems we are in agreement. As you'll know from previous posts of mine I prefer the football this toxic cultural sideshow. I hope the new legislation is enforced and not used as a threat. I know plenty OF fans who won't indulge this but equally I've known plenty who do and honestly I'm tired of hearing the latter.

  • Comment number 40.

    Jim Spence. The king of talking absolute drivel. You amaze me almost every week with your annoying articles.

    In Scotland you have the OF, the semi respectable teams (ie hibs hearts aberdeen & dundee utd) then the rest of the diddy teams behind.

    The SPL should be the same top 6 every season. What is really needed is for these respectable teams to stop messing about (esp Hibs & Aberdeen), stop getting beat by the diddies and form some form of co-op where they actively pursue a plan to make these four clubs as powerful as possible. They should come together and work to keep the OF in their place and push as far ahead as they should be relative to the smaller teams. Unfort not one person in scottish football has any vision and so we are reduced to listening to this absolute rubbish that sprouts out of peoples ,like you JIM, mouths

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm surprised to read comments regarding clubs outwith the Old Firm not showing any ambition (i.e. that they should attract investment that would allow them to spend big). Rangers, despite their multi-million pound income over two decades from the Champions League and a huge fanbase, came extremely close to going to The Wall recently. That other clubs should try to employ the same cowboy economics seems to me a pretty crazy idea.

    I still think the deterioration of the Scottish game comes back to the same problem - too many foreign players and no ceiling on salaries. It's no coincidence that Scotland has qualified for 1 World Cup (?) in the past 20-odd years; 25 years ago, Rangers decided to bring in a swathe of foreign players and the rest of the clubs followed suit.

    The EPL way of getting club success is not one the SPL should be following. Just look at the England national team; known as, pretty much, a joke around the world. Too many foreign players and insane salaries. That bubble will burst spectacularly soon enough.

  • Comment number 42.

    You can only go to a party if you are invited so forget about England there are like minded countries all over Europe in the same position as us so we should join the Dutch, Swedes, Danes, Belgins ect and set up a 22 strong league with promotion and relegation that would make it accessable to all teams within each country so Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee Utd ect could be a part of future growth and with more countries involved then this would have a large TV audience and £££££££££ to back the ventur. Lets persuade these countries because lets be honest the English, Spanish, French , Italian and Germans have all us diddie countries in the CHAMPIONS League as Cannon Fodder. Come on Lets Be Avin You................

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.

    Colchie has hit the nail on the head:
    "the OF wouldn't be moving 120 miles down the road; they'd still be in Glasgow every second week, playing the EPL sides."
    ...and the papers would continue to be full of rangers and celtic stories, and the OF would actually end up sucking away even more fans from the rest. The reason the OF have continually raised this possibility is because it really does suit them. That they have managed to convince anyone that it would be good for anyone else at all strikes me as amazing. Anyone who cares about scottish football in general should regard this idea as a total non-starter.

    Anyway, there seem to be a lot of commenters here who think that it is 'good marketing' or some magic powers that have allowed the big two to pull away from the rest, or that this change is somehow inevitable. It is not. There are two main factors at work over the last two decades: The increased money from the champions league, and the re-structuring of scottish football that allowed the top clubs to run things for their benefit. The first of these we can't do much about, but there is plenty we can do to bring about about a more competitive league. We just haven't done these things (or in many cases have even undone them) because every decision made since the creation of the SPL has been designed for the benefit of the Old Firm. The most obvious examples:

    1) playing each team twice a season instead of four times, as suggested above, helps the 'medium-sized' teams, as they play the OF less and smaller teams more.
    2) a share in gate revenues (doesn't have to be 50%) for the away team, as used to be the case. This also gives clubs a more stable income stream over the season.
    3) a more equitable distribution of TV money. There is no need to make the prize money for coming first in the SPL a lot more than for coming 6th, when the ChampsLeague prize money already rewards the achievement.

    The OF need to realise (or be forced to realise) that their long-term interest requires a stronger scottish league, and their short-termist thinking in fixing our domestic game for the maintainance of a duopoly is one of the main causes of its current weakness.

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent Idea,

    As an exiled Killie fan n Hampshire I have wondered about this for a long time.

    Alas in todays environment not possible. Why:

    1. The majority of English fans don`t want it - indeed clubs like Reading and Watford, are activly seeking legal perspectives as the introduction of "The OF" would severley hamper their own ambitions.

    2. The credibility of the English FA is at Stake. AFC Wimbledon have just smashed through the Lower League system to earn their right in the League - The OF would have to start at thr bottom like them - or th FA will implode.

    3. UEFA - should the OF join the English League where would it end? - the top 2 Potuguese clubs playing in Spain? or the top 2 Dutch clubs playing in Germany? - UEFA will sue siting "Champions League" rules (Which Swansea & Cardiff are exempt for historical reasons thru FIFA)

    As I see it the only legitimate way is to come south is to do what MANY Scots, and Irish have done, emigrate, build from within and hopefully flourish. Downsize in Scotland (Keep a feeder club say Partick or Clyde), buy a club in England - perhaps Crystal Palace (Rangers) and Charlton (Celtic) and grow that way.

    Great Season for Killie by the way only sorry we could not say goodbye and thank you to Mixu and the boys for season well played.

  • Comment number 46.

    35 - BaldyHibby - I am usually quite impressed by your posts because they are well thought out. However, post 35 finds you in strange a mood. I was at Hampden yesterday (and not supporting Celtic) and like you support one of the teams struggling in the SPL.

    My issues is that you seem to think they departure of the OF is a realistic and practical way forward yet seem so ready to close down the idea of rationalisation of some of the smaller clubs - many of whom get 300 to 500 supporters each week, and thats the home and away fans added!! Livingston made the move from Edinburgh to a new area and have built a fan base from scratch. Yes people claim to have roots and support their team but unless they get off their backside and actually 'support' (including financially) these teams the circle of decline. Personally I cant see how that is any more radical or ridiculous that the OF leaving. Every business I know (and nowadays that's the way clubs are run) would either close down or rationalise. So no OF apologist here just someone prepared to think the unthinkable in the interests of a more radical debate.

    As for yesterday - got home at 7pm which was 10 hours earlier than I managed in 1991.... and no hangover!

  • Comment number 47.

    Nobody wants the OF in England .... period !

    The other teams in the SPL have to raise their game, and attract investment from overseas.Chelsea and Man City now have attracted investors which makes the Premier League even more attractive.How Hibs or Hearts cannot attract investment is strange.

    Perhaps A Salmond could subsidise the other teams ?

    The OF playing each other 7 times a season is a joke though

  • Comment number 48.


    Absolutely agree with you. Europe is the way forward for me at least. Amd its not just about the OF as you say but the likes of Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Motherwell and DUtd for starters.


    The Human Goldfish strikes again!!

    Hearts have foreign owners Tom..

  • Comment number 49.

    The idea of a European Superleague was mooted 25 years ago, and there has been talk of one ever since.

    Does the fact that it still doesn't exist not give a clue as to its feasibility?

  • Comment number 50.

    Right, let's put this one to bed, once and for all.

    If UEFA let Rangers and Celtic join another country's league it would open the door for members of every other smaller league to do the same. A precedence would have been made and UEFA wouldn't be able to stop Anderlecht and Brugges joining the Dutch Eredivisie, or PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord joining the German Bundesliga, or even Bayern Munich AC Milan, Inter, Real Madrid and Barca joining the EPL. It would be laughable, with clubs chopping and changing and clamouring to be included in this year's most lucrative league. UEFA caouldn't stop it, as the precedence has been set. If anyone thinks UEFA will accept that, then they're deluded.

    People say that 'money talks' and that if the EPL wanted it, it will happen. That's simply not true.

    If the EPL forced it through, then UEFA would revoke the membership licence given to the EPL, and their clubs would be removed from UEFA competitions. Any player registered to an EPL club would be then disallowed from playing for their national teams by default, as they would not be registered to FIFA's subsidiary, UEFA.

    So then, for a player to move to an EPL club, they would have to give up the idea that they can play in the World Cup or the European Championships, give up the idea that they can play in the Champions/Europa League, or even just for their country in a friendly. Basically any competition that is ratified by, or under the umbrella of, FIFA.

    There would be a mass exodus of players from the English leagues, the TV companies would do likewise - after all, what's the drawing power of a league where all the best players have moved abroad, with no European football and no International football? - and the game south of the border would implode upon itself.

    The whole notion of Rangers and Celtic joining another league is a complete and utter fantasy.

  • Comment number 51.

    After all bumper TV contracts are time limited and can shift away from national leagues leaving room for other broadcasters. People subscibe to see big games.

    Everton supporters will subscribe to see Liverpool?
    Spurs supporters to see Arsenal? Chelsea?
    Bolton supporters will shift subscriptions to watch their own side to one where they'll have to pay far more to see Man Utd?

  • Comment number 52.

    Some interesting points but also some completely way off beam.

    The reasons that Scottish football is in the mess it's in is quite simple,the majority of clubs were badly run by directors who bought players they couldn't afford and paid them wages they couldn't afford and it was all done on borrowed money.

    When this didn't bring the success they hoped, fan drifted away and have not returned despite the one offs like yesterdays large Motherwell support.

    As a Celtic season ticket holder I hope they move to play in EPL and I agree with Jim that this should be a win win for both Scottish football and OF.

    Money talks and if SKY together with other major players want this to happen it will.

    A European league won't happen because you would have to lose the Champions League.

    The question was asked earlier but not answered, "What was the sectarian singing referred to yesterday by a BBC commentator?".
    I was at the game and I didn't hear any sectarian singing, can anyone enlighten me?

  • Comment number 53.

    Interesting point!
    Maybe the big four in England should quit to give other teams a chance of winning.
    And AJAX, PSV, and Twente could go play their football in Germany
    And the big German teams who always win the league could go play in Spain
    And Real and Barcelona who always win their league could just play each other every week
    Point being every league has 2-4 teams that always win it every year, and the answer is not "if we can't beat them, get rid of them". Problem with the general mentality these days, is that not everyone is a winner and you cannot try and stack the deck to make it that way. This notion wouldn't be entertained in any other sport!
    In Wales TNS have been in the top 2 10 times in the last 11 years, look forward to seeing them in the English game next season

  • Comment number 54.


    If UEFA let
    Uefa have already stated that they will not stand in the way of clubs playing in other countries' leagues.
    They know that this would contravene EU law and dare not.

    Unfortunately, this renders the rest of your post fabricated nonsense.

  • Comment number 55.

    Therawbuzzin: -

    Gaillard can say what he wants. Blatter, he say 'No'.

  • Comment number 56.

    One more link for you therawbuzzin:

    David Taylor, he say 'No' too.

    He said: "For all sorts of reasons FIFA are opposed to clubs playing outside their own country and have gone on the record to state that.

    "UEFA run the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, which make money for everyone in football and they don't want any complications to those competitions.

    "As well as all the natural opposition to any moves, each governing body has regulations which state that cross border competitions are not possible."

  • Comment number 57.

    55 56
    Blatter say "Not endorse", not, "No".

    David Taylor hasn't been SFA CEO for over four years.

    Both are abrogated by the 2009 statement, although what power the SFA would have to stop OF moving, I'd be interested to hear.

    BTW, I speak as a Rangers supporter who has no wish to see us move away from Scotland, especially to the festering cess-pool of money-laundering that is the EPL.

    My only wish is to persuade other clubs to raise their level to the extent that the OF don't win the SPL every year.

  • Comment number 58.

    All this guff:

    "If the EPL forced it through, then UEFA would revoke the membership licence given to the EPL, and their clubs would be removed from UEFA competitions. Any player registered to an EPL club would be then disallowed from playing for their national teams by default, as they would not be registered to FIFA's subsidiary, UEFA.

    So then, for a player to move to an EPL club, they would have to give up the idea that they can play in the World Cup or the European Championships, give up the idea that they can play in the Champions/Europa League, or even just for their country in a friendly. Basically any competition that is ratified by, or under the umbrella of, FIFA."

    Any links to anyone in authority taking this line, or, as I suggested, is it fabricated nonsense?

  • Comment number 59.

    It's common sense buzzy.

    By breaking UEFA guidelines on membership clubs, UEFA would be within their rights to suspend EPL membership of UEFA. By then placing themselves and their member clubs (and those players registered to those clubs) outside UEFA jurisdiction, they'd surely not be allowed to compete in UEFA (and therefore FIFA) competitions.

    Are you denying this is the case? Please explain how a player who is registered to a club out-with UEFA jurisdiction can play in the Champions League?

    And no, I've not seen any 'official' statement from UEFA on this. But then I've not seen any official statement from them denying the existence of alien life-forms running the SFA either.

    It's all a matter of common sense.

  • Comment number 60.

    And 50 years ago they said the same of a Scottish Parliament....evolution not revolution!

  • Comment number 61.


    Entertaining, but irrelevant.

  • Comment number 62.

    Braga and Utrecht could join the SPL ... they certainly would improve it

    Rangers and Celtic are European minnows ranked at 35th and 57th place,so who wants them in their league

    The Turkish league is ranked 11th compared with the SPL which is ranked a poor 16th.I would prefer the top 3 Turkish teams any time to the OF secterian teams.

  • Comment number 63.

    I love the "The Deal is Done", and "Its just a matter of time" rhetoric from "OF" Fans.

    It is not.

    Do you honestly believe that West Ham or Birmingham City who were relegated today, along with the likes of Leed United, Derby County, Southampton, Portsmouth as well as DOUBLE European Cup Winners Nottingham Forest, are simply going to watch the OF "Waltz" into the EPL without a say?

    Be careful what what you wish.

    The only I see the the OF being " allowed" to join the EPL would the amalgamation of both the English & Scottish FA`s, thus creating a Brithish League. UEFA may not mind this as there is belief within Europe, that the "UK" has over represenation - especially in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

    That then would lead to the call from Europe for there to be only ONE team from the UK on the international scene, and we all know how Scotland feel about this.

    Living as I do in the South of England believe when I say thay there is a real feeling of "Cutting Scotland loose" through the rise of the SNP, and a sense of them being "anti -english" - which I believe them not to be.

    My footballing friends and fellow supporters find it very strange that at a time when the notion of Independance has never been stronger , the 2 Strongest teams in Scotland are "Pleading" to join in the English Premier League ? Many believe (not me) that the Tartan influence within the Premier League is strong enough (Ferguson, Dalglish, Moyes al Sadly not McLiesh now) without actual teams as well !

    Money does talk, but memories live long here in England.. Rangers fans in Manchester, continious religious overtones with most aspects connected with the OF, the Lennon affair this year... I say again the vast majority of English fans DO NOT WANT GLASGOW CELTIC OR RANGERS in or around them.

    If they join in their present state they would not only be unsuccessful, but an terrible advert for Football and Scotland in general.... sorry for being such a pessimist

  • Comment number 64.

    @59.At 15:41 22nd May 2011, Trusevich wrote:
    Yes UEFA guidelines state that but EU LAW states the free movement of people , service and goods , in reality UEFA have been warned by the EU on several issues over the last 2-3 years and always complied and remember Bosman in the nineties , UEFA would be legally powerless to stop any movement .The only thing that can stop it would be bottom of the pyrimad football to start them off , very little income that way as a deterent .

    @57.At 14:34 22nd May 2011, therrawbuzzin wrote:
    Fantastic to see a football fan , you realise that football is about more than your team and what benefit true competetion makes , it makes winning sweeter and its better for Scottish football .

  • Comment number 65.


    Dismissive and unconvincing

  • Comment number 66.


    You are not being a pessimist but you are wrong when you say there is a movement among OF fans for a move South. Corporate Rantic would love to but there is no desire/ demand among fans, nor anyone else. Its a dead duck of an issue. If it exists, Hell will probably freeze over first.

    I suspect Jim Spence really wants to have a more competitive SPL and that will only be achieved quickly in the absence of a better TV deal if Rantic agrees to an even distribution of TV of league position and TV money (highly likely), gate monies (highly unlikely) and possibly a 2nd spot (possible) or Championship (very unlikely)end-of-season play off.

    All or some of it may make little difference at all.


    I spotted at least one new word in there. Well done you - biggrin!

  • Comment number 67.

    Apologies #63 my #61 comment was actually directed at your post and to #61 who isn't involved in this one at all.

    My #63 post is for #62.

  • Comment number 68.

    @64 - murry1975:

    EU employment/freedom of movement law wouldn't cover it. The clubs would be free to employ whoever they want, just that UEFA are the ones who decide who gets to play with their ball.

    As I said right at the start, it's a complete no-goer. Time would be better spent trying to improve the overall state of the Scottish game instead of constantly chasing pots of gold at the end of rainbows.

  • Comment number 69.

    @68 - Trusevich
    The EU law on goods and seryices DOES cover it , it removes any rule that prohibites the refusal of freedom of trade , in basic terms if I have an entertainment business in Scotland and I want to film a movie in Paris as long as I get the relivant film licience I can . In other words if I am not breaking civil or constutional law in the other EU country I am allowed . If an OF moves to England and the FA accepts this there is nothing to stop this , even within UEFA rules , Swansea (welsh FA) may be in the EPL and will switch to FA if they do , Derry City play LoI instead of Irish league .

    And I agree with you on the need to improve the SPL and league in general , three division 16 teams 3up three down no mini-league no playoffs to regional sub leagues (as in SPL div1 div2 , then east/west or another geographic way). Having a 12 team division playing each other 3-4 times is not helping to develope players , teams and managers that can adjust to a more varied pattern of opposition , this translates itself into European results and National results . And why out of 5 teams is the OF who seem to last longer in Europe and where does the Euro money go in the other teams?
    Unfortunately the bubble has burst for many clubs and they realise that survival is more important than European football , remember Gretna?, but they should not be happy with 3rd place at best . Scottish football needs an SPL that delivers entretanment , a socialable out let inclusive of everyone , better competition , a target for lower league clubs and to be able to bring talent and experience to the national team .

  • Comment number 70.


    why can't we just try and fix what we've got, we don't have much up here, watching can be painful sometimes but these players at some point in there careers had a confidence in their game and could express themselves on a pitch.
    the skill factor has been stripped right out the game because of the fear of defeat, even our national team showed us the fear factor, we played an international with no forwards, thats got to be the saddest day i ever had watching scottish football, it's a sport for goodness sake, a sport where you play to win.
    the old firm up here are not unbeatable, lets face it, rangers financial state isn't exactly brilliant and celtic will never pay the wages they used to.

    you want to pack them off to england jim, you want to sell the jerseys. who will say that in a few seasons sky and the premiership will not be struggling, nothing that good lasts forever, the money will run out at some point, when people in everyday life struggle, it's the luxury that takes the first hit, sky is a luxury in lots of homes, people will switch it off and then watch the debt some of these clubs carry give english fa kittens, it could be a pack of cards. man u, 600million in the red, chelsea, hoping their owner never gets fed up, liverpool, nearly sold down the river by americans, man city, haven't a clue what to say there.
    the best football stories in the premiership, wigan, dave whelan, blackpool and wolves, that in my book is what football is all about.
    why can't we just try and fix what we have, it can be done.

  • Comment number 71.

    This is just silly.

    How much time do you think the Portuguese spent in the late 1990s wondering about whether the Spanish would take Benfica, Porto, maybe even Porto off them.

    Portugal is a small country with fantastic European success (6th best league in Europe) - and an 18 team league with a number of competitive teams, and a good youth system focussed on technique instead of competition, and so on.

    They've recovered from almost exactly our predicament by going in almost exactly the opposite direction as the inveterate morons who run our game want to take us.

    We need rid of the old firm like we need a hole in the head, but at least it might clear the administrative logjam at the top of the SFL.

  • Comment number 72.

    nb. Of course, Portugal did spend a while wondering about it - they were, after all, part of the original atlantic (cod) league too.

    But they got over that and properly fixed their own footballing house.

  • Comment number 73.

    I forgot about that codswallop !! I think I was too traumatised by the rummours around then , a team from Dublin entering the SPL was one the other was Wimbledon moving to Dublin . Three ideas which were taught to help Irish football at the time . God ignorance is bliss .

  • Comment number 74.


    No is sufficient.

    Common sense...snigger...

  • Comment number 75.

    @69 - murry1975

    I believe EU law cannot force UEFA to allow an 'enhanced' EPL and its clubs to compete in their competitions. If UEFA want to disallow them for whatever reason, they can. As I said, it's their ball.

    @74 - therawbuzzin

    Ah, it seems that no is not quite sufficient. My bad for attempting to engage a troll.

  • Comment number 76.

    One of the reasons this debate has been so robust is that we've reached a stage where we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. I looked up some figures on Saturday (the annual PwC review of Scottish Premier League football). The latest report was published in 2010 and covered season 2008/09. The general "employee cost" figure for Celtic that season was £38.8m, for Motherwell it was £3.4m, in round figures. If you're outspending your cup final opponent by an order of magnitude, then you're going to win almost all of the time - so how do you keep convincing people that maybe, just maybe, Motherwell have a chance? It gets harder and harder as the years go by, interest drifts away and people find something else to do with their Saturdays. If the OF stay in Scottish football, the top end of the professional game may wither. If they leave, many people take the view that the same will happen. Any change, any idea, any move forward then becomes controversial - this thread is evidence of that.
    Oh and as for that "too many teams in Scotland" nonsense, how many times does this have to be refuted? Outside the top flight, there are barely another dozen teams who might have realistic ambitions to play SPL football ... once you get down to clubs with an average attendance of below 1,000, you're talking community organisations that have every right to exist and who bring benefits to their local area. The fact that there's football in Dumbarton, Annan, Elgin and Stranraer does not handicap Scottish football. The fact that only three non-OF clubs in Scotland have regularly averaged five figure attendances in recent years (Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen) while everyone else's are lower is a major problem but hardly a surprise in a country of 5m people. Even if you destroyed clubs like Hearts, Hibs, Dundee Utd, Dundee, Motherwell, Hamilton and others to create Edinburgh United, Dundee City, Sporting Lanarkshire or whatever, it would not produce behemoths with OF-level attendances and it would reduce the number of clubs to the point where we're struggle for a ten team SPL ... Let's face it. Rangers, Celtic plus the teams from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and one from Dundee (six in total) are the freaks in Scottish football; the great mass of clubs have attendances from 5,000-odd down to the hundreds, all the way from Killie and Motherwell to Albion Rovers, East Stirlingshire and Stranraer...

  • Comment number 77.

    Something radical needs to happen to stop the terminal decline of Scottish football but is moving the two Old Firm clubs to England really practical or a good idea for that matter?

    Like other posts have said I really don't see why the EPL would want the Old Firm. The media spotlight has been wholly negative and it will take the authorities in Manchester sometime to forget the Rangers visit. True Jim, money talks but I don't think it would talk loudly enough in this scenario.

    And the EPL has serious flaws. Ok it produces some top quality football but it is as other posts have said, the 'greed league' where the markets hold sway. Once in the EPL, the Old Firm would simply buy quality foreign talent. And what of the remaining teams in Scotland? Sure the league would be more competitive but I'm not sure it would be good to watch.

    I certainly don't pretend to have the answers but the Germans seem to do a good job! Like they seem to do with most things...

  • Comment number 78.

    5.At 10:04 23rd May 2011, Trusevich wrote:
    @69 - murry1975

    I believe EU law cannot force UEFA to allow an 'enhanced' EPL and its clubs to compete in their competitions. If UEFA want to disallow them for whatever reason, they can. As I said, it's their ball.
    Yes it can, competition law. UEFA could be fined hundreds of millions of € if it is seen to be abusing its monopoly position.
    EU Commission could even break it up.
    @74 - therawbuzzin

    Ah, it seems that no is not quite sufficient. My bad for attempting to engage a troll.
    Always the bridesmaid, eh?

  • Comment number 79.

    #70 I take your points but there is no chance of us being able to "fix what we've got", we can't agree on the size of the league and those who run the game refuse to accept the fans wishes for a 16 team league playing each other twice.

    I believe that there is support for Celtic to move, I can't speak for Rangers, and I don't see how that would make any difference to the majority of fans who attend games at CP apart from, with respect, a better quality of opposition.
    The number of away tickets allocated in the Premiership doesn't exceed 4000 apart from Wigan perhaps so notions of marauding fans terrorising towns is absurd.

    There is no way Scottish football is going to improve in the short term and it can't afford not to in my opinion.

    As the number of Motherwell supporters at the Cup Final proves, success breeds success and the only chance of success for any club outwith OF is if they're not competing with them.

    I really want SKY to force the issue and let's move on.
    As I've said before I believe such a move would also reduce the sectarian element that is ruining the game.

  • Comment number 80.

    59.At 15:41 22nd May 2011, Trusevich wrote:
    It's common sense buzzy.

    By breaking UEFA guidelines on membership clubs, UEFA would be within their rights to suspend EPL membership of UEFA. By then placing themselves and their member clubs (and those players registered to those clubs) outside UEFA jurisdiction, they'd surely not be allowed to compete in UEFA (and therefore FIFA) competitions.

    Are you denying this is the case? Please explain how a player who is registered to a club out-with UEFA jurisdiction can play in the Champions League?

    And no, I've not seen any 'official' statement from UEFA on this. But then I've not seen any official statement from them denying the existence of alien life-forms running the SFA either.

    It's all a matter of common sense.


    You've already seen this though:

    A quote for those who can't access the link:

    "UEFA opens way for Old Firm to make switch to England
    Apr 21 2009 By Alan Marshall

    UEFA last night insisted they wouldn't block any invite for Celtic and Rangers to join the English Premier League.

    European football's governing body has previously stated clubs can't play in leagues outside their own country.

    But yesterday UEFA director of communications William Gaillard insisted the matter could be decided by the leagues and associations involved.

    He said: "We wouldn't take a position on such a proposal."

    His stance is a boost to the Old Firm's hopes of moving down south.

    Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has floated a plan to include the Glasgow giants in a two-tier Premier League but the idea has to overcome a number of obstacles."

    So, we know that you're talking nonsense.
    Step away from the spade.

  • Comment number 81.

    Mr Spence

    Firstly, after this season, Celtic certainly would not be missed.

    Secondly, if the ywant to play in England then it is simple. They move lock stock and barrell. They would not be missed by the genuine lovers of Scottish Football.

    Thirdly, with the constant bad and nasty behaviour noboby wants them. Surely England do want another Millwall times two.

    Finally, they won't move because they are greedy. It is all about the Champions League. £20m to buy mediocre player to win a League which is equal to CCC2.

    These are the facts.

  • Comment number 82.

    The only realistic way for the OF to move to England would be for them to start, 1 each, in the BlueSquare North and South leagues and work their way up from there. The clubs in the lower leagues would welcome the money the OF fans would bring to their leagues and most likely some sort of payment would be expected as well that could be distributed amongst the non-league teams. The teams in Leagues 1 and 2 would also welcome the increase in money the OF would bring and from there it's a simple matter of them trying to gain promotion like any other English team.
    Perhaps for this to happen the OF would have to buy a failing team in each league, then move them as per the franchise system in America, up to Glasgow.

    Let's hope that this can happen and we are rid of them forever.

  • Comment number 83.

    @80 - therawbuzzin

    Gaillard's comment of "we wouldn't take a position on such a proposal" is exactly as it is stated. It does not mean that UEFA are encouraging such a proposal, as the venerable(!) Daily Record mis-reported.

    Right, I'm done with trolls for today.

  • Comment number 84.


    The spending power of their fans and the TV money almost certainly would. Watch the SPL spending horror show this summer with the OF still here to get a taster.

    Many OF are just as 'genuine' lovers of Scottish football.

    Every club has their 'nasties'.

    They won't move because they can't find a format for them. They are here and they will stay. They don't get CL money every year. Celtic haven't had CL money for the last few seasons. Rangers might get very lucky and get it this year.

    These are just my opinions. Just because you use the word 'facts' does not make it so. Now that is a fact!

  • Comment number 85.

    I dont want Celtic or Rangers to leave Scottish football but I would love to see a competitive league. Its fine people moaning about the Duopoly they have but you can hardly blame them for their success. Every other club in the country would love to swap places, be challenging, win trophies and have european adventures.
    I do get annoyed when others moan about the OF rather than trying to be proactive. If i'm not mistaken Hearts looked like putting up a very good fight a few seasons back before Burley was sacked and they faded away. Hibs built a very good young team under Mowbray which was sold for very large sums of money but next to none of it was reinvested. Competing with two established powerhouses is not easy but it seems like everybody either implodes or decides to cash in whenever there are signs of potential. I know finances have to be kept in order but nobody seems willing to give a team 18-24 months to see where they can go.
    Part two of this problem is that once the OF leaves its still going to do nothing for the majority of scottish clubs. For the first few years there may be interest as 4 teams challenge (Dundee Utd, Aberdeen? and the two Edinburgh clubs) but once they have got a few seasons worth of European money in the pot does anyone really think they will not plunder the talent from the best of the rest?
    The other problem faced is that the SPL is not an interesting prospect to invest in.
    From a sponsorship POV the fact that other than OF match each game is seen by relatively small numbers and there are a lack of opponents to get your name seen by a wider market. Personally I think a 12 team league does a lot of damage. Seeing the same old faces week after week must be an absolute bore. Its bad enough from down here in the south let alone turning up and handing over cash on a weekly basis.

  • Comment number 86.

    76 - If all these minor teams you refer to simply did that then I have no issue. However, they wield influence and voting power within the SFL and SFA that has a direct bearing on Scottish football with very little if any skin in the game. Lets face it, most of them are amateur status in all but name. One thing is for sure - we will have many more badly supported teams unless we do something. When a club get fewer supporters that turn up to the local dancing display its arguable just how much 'community' interest of support there is - lets all just stick our head in the sand, do nothing and watch the demise of our game...

  • Comment number 87.

    It's not going to happen anytime soon, the EPL simply don't want them. They would be a threat to the teams in the lower half of the table, and the teams at the top are doing quite nicely without them.
    We should look at re-structuring our own league system first. The present situation, which allows a team to be cut adrift at the foot of the SPL, meaning the teams above them can relax and stop trying, is leading to many poor games. We need to increase the fear of relegation by scrapping the one up, one down system and expanding the league so teams aren't playing each other four or five times a season.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hi Jim

    All good stuff, however, I am at a loss and unless I have missed it ,none of the input either from your content or the other participants addresses what you mean by helping Rangers and Celtic to depart. In short my query is how can they be helped out of the door???

  • Comment number 89.

    At 14:13 23rd May 2011, Trusevich wrote:
    @80 - therawbuzzin

    Gaillard's comment of "we wouldn't take a position on such a proposal" is exactly as it is stated. It does not mean that UEFA are encouraging such a proposal, as the venerable(!) Daily Record mis-reported.

    No it does not mean that UEFA is encouraging such a proposal; merely that they dare not stand in the OF's way if they gained admission to another league.

    Look, you've seen it in B&W twice now, including direct quotes from one of the top men in UEFA, yet you carry on with your deluded nonsense.

    Go ahead, by all means, you're fooling no-one.

  • Comment number 90.

    33.At 16:38 21st May 2011, You wrote:
    May I ask you a direct question Mr Spence?

    Where do you propose that the £1.8m in support payment, that the SPL currently gives to the SFL, comes from, if Rangers and Celtic leave the SPL?

  • Comment number 91.

    @89.At 15:23 23rd May 2011, therrawbuzzin wrote:
    Just leave him alone , and what he believes , you have given him black and white proof and I have given him TWO examples ,yet he "believe(s) EU law cannot force UEFA " , just like they didnt in the Bosman case , and FIFA's 6+5 rule( ). I am not allowed under BBC guidelines to mention an on going case involving a certain entertainment company and a plantiff , but hopefully this case will be resolved soon and more money will be available from TV rights from the SPL across europe .

  • Comment number 92.

    Where do you propose that the £1.8m in support payment, that the SPL currently gives to the SFL, comes from, if Rangers and Celtic leave the SPL?

    Perhaps from:

    Hearts (£35m in debt and about to undertake leaving Gorgie Version II)
    Dutd (£7m debt)
    Killie (£11m in debt)
    Aberdeen (£13m debt)
    M'Well (God only knows what happens here but about to downsize)
    St Mirren (Good fiscal management but downsizing)
    S J (like St Mirren)
    Hibs (like the Saints)
    ICT (?)

    They all look like clubs that might want the OF to go!!?

  • Comment number 93.

    PS again thanks to EU Law on rights of service in member states

  • Comment number 94.

    There is a simple solution which will make the SPL competitive and remove the drain on our resources by the evil twins: throw them out of our league. As no-one else wants them they'll go bust and the nasty problem disappears. Of course, they might form a league of two clubs playing each other twenty times every season. That would suit the TV companies and most of the lazy sports press.

  • Comment number 95.

    yeah throwing them out would work , please read comment 92 by Rob04 and let me , and the rest of level thinking people where the money is going to come from to run the SPL ,SFA and scottish league . The league of Wales doesnt have its big guns cardiff and swansea (not to mention with Newport County, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr Town ) and does struggle , albeit a reletivel new league. Only two teams have attendance above 10,000 on average and they would simply become the New Firm ,and then maybe you can kick them out , and wait for the next ones to come along .

  • Comment number 96.


    I have followed this debate at a distance as I realise that I went a wee bit over the top earlier. Why ? I firmly believe that Scottish football would be a better, and much more competitive place without the OF. Let us calm down and consider life post OF.

    Payments to SFL ? Irrelevant. There would be no SPL as a seperate body. We would certainly be back to a Scottish League. Top division of 18 ? Who knows. The OF are gone so no need to pander any more.

    Merger of teams to challenge the OF ? Irrelevant. They have gone.

    Champions League payments ? Irrelevant. It would take some years for a non-OF Scotland to challenge. I don't care for one. We will improve.

    Our nation dragged into the mud with front page headlines ? Irrelevant. We are perfectly capable of cleaning up our own act. Do remember I assume no OF.

    I find it unimageable that few can see this. When the OF courted the EPL I was worried. Self interest was always going to prevail. English sides do not want the competition. Jim's blog seems to indicate that Sky now want them in the EPL. They - Sky- are now the final arbiters in what will happen to the debt-ridden EPL. To list debts of Scottish clubs compared to the EPL is fatuous. EPL clubs have hideous debts. Sky pay for them. No more need to match the OF, therefore, irrelevant.

    I may be tilting at windmills. If there is any prospect of the EPL accepting the OF, we , the rest of us, should grab it with both hands. People will turn out on the terraces if there is any chance of winning something.

    I accept that this is a hobby horse of mine. I acknowledge that few will agree. Please look at the majority of posts and then look again given no OF. Why not ?

  • Comment number 97.

    @96"Payments to SFL ? Irrelevant. There would be no SPL as a seperate body"

    Really, so all the remain SPL chairpersons would vote that in ? Given that fact that they voted an SPL in the first place , 100% of them ? Sky and Setanta mainly show OF games (not only but mainly games in which either is playing) so are Hibs/Hearts going to to be happy if they dont renew a £13m/year deal ? Given the debts some of the SPL clubs have it would be turkeys voting for Christmas .

    Calm down and consider life after the OF , that was quick , maybe a ten team LEAGUE and sub regional leagues , Hibs and Hearts at the top of the pile because of their history and attendence and the decline and death of the national team . Alan Pardews comments spring to mind , something has to be done and its not weaken the league .

    What attracts investment , be it from sky or another source ? The ablilty to market your product/service/company . Sky buy into it, then the ads on there can reach a market of up to 5million . Add the OF and the increase to a broader base, in other countries/markets again , take it away , it drops again . Somebody investing large money into scottish football wants a return , possible in the full extent of the country , definitly more than where the club is based. Would this happen with less exposure ?

    An overhall is badly needed , but to kick the OF to make it more competitive? attractive ? and most of all successful ?

  • Comment number 98.


    Thank you but you miss my point. I am talking about life without the Old Firm. There would be no more need for the SPL. They are gone.

    The need for a manufactured set up to suit the big two has gone. Several club chairmen will have to re-think their strategy. That is tough on them, but so be it. I am advocating life without the OF.

    I repeat myself. Stop thinking of the problems. Of course money would drain anyway from the Scottish game initially. Most of it goes to the OF in any case. My argument is predicated on no Old Firm. Think about it. Why not ?

  • Comment number 99.

    I think there is still too much negativity that Scottish football wouldn't survive without the Old Firm. I disagree, I think the studies that have been made have been unrealistic - and have been driven to meet the SPL of now or only considered a very minor change with little thought to radical - think about radical - think breakaway like the PDC in darts and see how it could grow. What about making the wee teams have 'hope'? What about having 1 or 2 divisions where a draw pre-season brings a few teams together who fight it out champs league style to see which Tier they will compete in - I have said this on other forums and contacted SPL, SFL too... The reason that crowds have reduced is because there is no hope of success - less as you drop down divisions... unless something happens. Celtic and Rangers are bad for Scottish Football for more reasons than one; but I still cannot understand why we bow to the 2 to the detriment of 40. Please someone take the Old Firm away.

  • Comment number 100.

    @Uriah Heep ... Yes the small clubs do have a say in the SFL and SFA but none whatsoever in the SPL which is where the real power in Scottish football now resides .. also your caution about "lets all just stick our head in the sand, do nothing and watch the demise of our game..." takes us back to the point I made up there ^ ... If you take the @BaldyHibby view and say the OF should go then a considerable body of opinion shouts, 'Noooo!' If you say the OF should stay, then how do you get round the problem that the top two clubs can outspend everyone else to an absurd degree, rendering the SPL meaningless as a competition for the other ten clubs (Europa League and relegation excepted)?
    The additional comment from me, for what it's worth, is the notion that this problem goes beyond Scotland. Leagues were organised, historically, on a national basis and generally that worked up until 20 years ago. Villa won the title down south in '81 for example with Ipswich second. Watford, Southampton and Villa all finished as runners-up in the 1980s; Aberdeen gave Rangers a decent run for the title here in 1990/91. Satellite TV money has subsequently changed the landscape and non-OF clubs like Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen these days probably have more in common with clubs in Scandinavia, Benelux or in the English lower divisions than they do with English Premier League sides and the OF (on one hand), or Scottish teams who pull in less than 2,000 punters on average (on the other). The answer is probably a trans-Euro top flight with yer Manchester Uniteds and Real Madrids, with a range of regional divisions underneath and the remnants of the old national leagues as a third tier, feeding into a Europe-wide pyramid. (Arsenal could doubtless afford to jet off elsewhere to play Milan, Schalke, Valencia or whoever, every other week, but Killie and Motherwell would be pushed to afford the air fares to Bergen and Helsinki, plus the Sky TV execs wouldn't get too excited about MK Dons v Falkirk, or St Johnstone v Germinal Beerschot) ... There would be a natural cut-off point for this kind of rationalisation (financial, logistical) but it would at least offer a way "up and out" for clubs in small countries - including Scotland - that doesn't currently exist. I suspect it would toll the bell for international football however, vesting all power in the clubs...


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.