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Old Firm departure would be ruinous

Chick Young | 11:51 UK time, Tuesday, 21 April 2009

They are, I see, attempting a remake of the Great Escape.

The Old Firm are poised to attempt to tunnel out again but it will all end in tears, as grisly a mess as poor Steve McQueen on his motorbike.

It is a weary debate, but if they go they will have the blood of the Scottish professional game on their hands. Not that, I suspect, huge swathes of their support - blinded as they are with a love of Ireland and England and a loathing of the Tartan Army - will care.

mcgeadybroadfoot446.jpgWhat a divided little nation we are. And we are about; it seems, to be sliced once again.

Rangers and Celtic have been flaunting themselves to the English Premier League for some time now, like two old tarts promenading a beach in Blackpool or Benidorm.

But the truth is that they have had more knock-backs from the neighbours than Derek Riordan has had from bouncers in Edinburgh.

But I'll tell you this; the get-on-your-way-it-will-be-a-better-place-without-you brigade has no idea of how serious the situation really is.

Celtic and Rangers' departure to the south would leave the Scottish game with its throat cut... because in the real sense it is not a departure at all.

God isn't going to reach down from heaven and transport the pair of them to new homes in Milton Keynes and Chelmsford. They will still be right here soaking up the media attention and the television money.

And the game they left behind won't just be a backwater: it will be a puddle.

A more competitive championship, I'll grant you, but pub dominoes can be that.

I wish it were different. Too true I do. But too many have been brainwashed.

I attended a voting lunch this week to decide on the Clydesdale Bank manager, player and young player of the year and there were people sat round the table who clearly had a problem with a non-Old Firm player winning the award.

There is without a shadow of doubt an agenda in this country which warms to Celtic and Rangers. It is not a level playing field, it never has been.

The Old Firm got rich on reasons that had nothing to do with football and for decades the two of them milked the great divide.

The current custodians at Parkhead and Ibrox have done much to drag sections of their support kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but they still have a baggage about which our English friends may be gloriously naïve.

Here's the truth. It is not always joyous with the Old Firm about the place but life would be much worse without them.

Do we seriously believe that the clubs they left behind - with no television interest or newspaper coverage worth the description - would raise enough of the folding stuff to attract players capable of giving us the moments Rangers and Celtic have brought us in European competition?

It's Saturday. St Mirren are playing Kilmarnock. Eight miles up the road Rangers are at home to Manchester United while in London Celtic are visiting Chelsea. So the spotlight is where?

It's Buckingham Palace versus a Wendy House and there is not a media organisation worth its salt which won't recognise where the audience is.

John Boyle, who should be too busy planting grass seed to comment, nevertheless made a fair point when he said this is a bigger threat to Scottish football than Team GB for the London Olympics.

The Motherwell chairman is right. But if the Old Firm move and we give in to the Government about 2012 then everything that Scottish football has stood for in a century and more is flushed right down the pan.

It is murder and self-interest is the motive.

And I know on whose hands the blood will dry.


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