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By ESPN Staff
Aug 5, 2003

Your Verdict: Old Firm switch

Celtic chairman Dermot Desmond wants to see Celtic and Rangers admitted to the Premiership, claiming there would be benefits for the game south of the border and also claims the current television rights system is illegal.

The Bhoys chief has blasted the football authorities in both Scotland and England and called for an independent regulator to run the game on both sides of the border.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live Desmond claimed: 'The Premier League clubs - the smaller ones that is, have issued a mandate to the executive that they don't want Celtic and Rangers in the Premiership because they might undermine their position in the league, so the Premier league executive are under guidance from those majority of clubs, and again I don't think that is competition and I don't think that's in the interests of football.' [+]

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    Your Verdict:

    Rangers and Celtic would be a valuable addition to the Premiership and after a few seasons to acclimatize to the league the cash available to the clubs would allow them to challenge for the title.

    The more clubs that have a realistic chance to win the championship then the more exciting the league.

    The are already Welsh teams, such as Cardiff and Swansea, in the English leagues and an English team, Berwick, in the Scottish league so it would hardly set a precedent.

    Adam Gill, London


    As a Celtic fan, I would love the opportunity to see my team play against stronger opposition more regularly as well as fulfill their true potential as a football club. I can understand the problems involved though. Would any Celtic fan want to represent England in Europe? Would we want three years in lower divisions? Of course we want more money and more prestige for our clubs, every fan does.

    This issue is a by-product of football as a business, the fans don't seem to have a problem with the move as it would inject massive intrigue on both sides of the border. The 'suits' do because the extra money for the Old Firm has to come from somewhere and some clubs are hanging on by the skin of their teeth anyway. So do the bigots, but they are better ignored.

    The fact that this situation arises is part of footballs globalisation. England's teams are not filled with solely English players, there is freedom of mobility for employees and businesses in the EU, but in football it is only for players, not clubs. If the issue went to the European Court, the Old Firm would be allowed to move, but would still require an invitation into any league.

    Uefa have to decide if they are for this globalisation (the natural end being a European Super League where meritocracy rules for all) or against it (the natural end being a definition of football as different from other business and a review of player mobility, not to mention a huge run-in with the European Courts).

    The real question is, which one of these stances should UEFA take?

    Joe Beatty


    Its only a matter of time before Celtic and Rangers are competing in the Premiership...........money talks!

    Billy McGlashan


    The comment 'do you take Real Madrid and Barcelona and Juventus out of the European championship because people don't want to play them because they are too good?' made by Celtic's billionaire owner is amazing in its stupidity.

    Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus don't just play in Europe because they are allowed to, they have to qualify to be able to reap the benefits of European football.

    If Celtic and Rangers can devise a way for them to qualify to enter the Premiership then go for it, but as far as I'm concerned there is no way they can just be let in to it.

    Just as the smaller clubs protest, if the two Scottish clubs are let in, it means that two English clubs have to make way and I would never support Celtic and Rangers in Europe {should they actually be good to qualify through the Premiership} if they do indeed displace two clubs that have actually not deserved to be relegated.

    I'm all for letting Celtic and Rangers in at the bottom, should they want to be unpatriotic, and have them work their way up but no way can they just be let in at the top. They are in Scotland after all, let them ply their trade there!

    Adam Cooper


    Suggesting that letting the Old Firm play in the Premiership is akin to Real Madrid or Inter Milan representing England in the Champions League, or a team from Asia playing against English opposition is utter madness. If he wants a precedent, look at North America (which he did, but in the wrong light) where Canada compete in North American leagues.

    For goodness sake, it's part of the same bit of land, it's closer to travel from Manchester to Glasgow than it is to Southampton. That is all slightly different from a 3 hour (or 14 hours to Asia) flight to a country that doesn't speak the same language!

    I agree that the Old Firm have no right to go straight into the Premiership, but there's no doubt that they would bring a huge amount of interest and revenue as well as prestige if they were to play there. If you want to make the league the best in the world, why leave out what are potentially two of the biggest clubs that come from the same country.

    I would put Rangers and Celtic into the Nationwide for a minimum of 3 seasons. That would bring much needed revenue to the 1st division and allow them to negotiate a more lucrative TV contract. After that, if they make it to the top flight, then let them go. I can't believe that any football chief would be reluctant to see the Old Firm in the Premier League as long as they've earned it.

    Robert Knight, England


    The Celtic comments smack of short sightedness and lack of understanding: First if both teams were allowed into the Premiership then they would have very little chance of competing for the European places anyway. United's thrashing of Celtic in pre-season is a timely reminder of that fact!

    Who else would they displace? Arsenal are certainly better, Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and Blackburn outplayed them even if they lost in the UEFA cup - so how would they actually do through the whole season?

    They are much better off competing in a league where they are guaranteed EU football instead of scrapping around among the relegation dogfight year in year out in spite of their fabulous support.

    Yes, there's no doubt, these comments come from someone seduced by the mirage of money with little regard for the hard realities of actually placing Celtic in a league they are ill equipped to survive.

    Tom Shutes


    This should be happening next season, why is it taking so long. The benefits for all out-weigh any negative ideas. Surely Sky must be interested. What would the viewing figures be for Southampton playing Birmingham / Middlesbrough compared to Celtic or Rangers playing Leeds, Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool?

    Money will talk in the end and it will be television money and not the FA. UEFA listened to the G14 clubs and formed the champions league so why can't local associations change?

    Also there is a possibility that the Swiss and Austrian Leagues may merge. Other issues of precedent, Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham play in the Nationwide Leagues and could possibly be promoted to the Premiership. Another precedent Monaco play in the French League yet Monaco is an independent state not in the European Community.

    Laurence McMahon


    I would just like to say, as a big fan of English football, that I would fully support the idea of a few Scottish teams in the Premier League, let alone a merger. The only way I can see the Premier League becoming the biggest league in the world is to change, and what a better way to change than to add a few top class teams into the league!

    Not only will it improve the quality of the league, but it would bring a far bigger fan base into the league, as well as giving clubs such as Celtic and Rangers the chance to play against top class teams week in week out, rather than once every few weeks in the UEFA Cup and Champions League.

    Andrew Levi


    Yes, definitely let Rangers and Celtic join the Premier League, in fact make them move to England lock stock and barrel.

    The B@!%^&*s don't have any Scottish players in their clubs anyway, which is in itself a damning indictment on the state of their youth programme.

    D. Mitchell


    Presumably anybody who wants to join the English Football Pyramid would start at the bottom? If my local team wants to join a Sunday League they don't start in the highest division.

    Terry Wager, Leamington Spa


    It is strange that the argument to keep Rangers and Celtic out of the English league rests on international borders. For years Cardiff City have played in the English divisions with no problem.

    Is Wales any less of a distinct nation than Scotland? Why should it be different for a Scottish Club to play in the Premiership?

    These are not necessarily rhetorical questions, I don't know the technical differences if there are any, but on the face of it it seems like a hypocritical objection that is being offered.

    Puzzled!


    I would love to see Celtic and Rangers join the Premier League! Lets face it, they would offer a real challenge to the big clubs instead of the minnows that are continually coming and going in the relegation fight each year.

    How about trying a fairer approach to their entry. Winner of First Divison gets direct entry, as does Winner of SPL. Then 2nd and 3rd of respective leagues battle for final place in Premier league.

    I am of the opinion that you need to make the game more attractive in a tight media market. Nobody in Australia wants to stay up unitl 4-5am to watch the only game of the week being Wolves V Portsmouth. They want to see big clubs racing for the top of the table, playing big games. The more top teams you have in there the better.

    Andrew Cartledge


    The FA has a responsibililty of not setting a precedent where the flood gates are opened for clubs to participate in whichever league they choose to do so.

    Every football association has to respect the indepence and integrity of every league. This not only preserves integrity,but also prevents "weaker" leagues from developing the local standard of football.

    If Celtic, or even Rangers, were allowed into the Premier League, what is there stopping the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayen Munich to break away from their domestic leagues to form the "Super League". There has to be a stop to this.

    Such a move disrepects the strong tradition of the leagues all over the world. Not only that, when the so-called "Super League" is formed, what will happen to the state of domestic leagues? My point being that a "small" gesture of allowing Celtic into the Premier League may have serious repurcussions on the future state of world football.

    Vikas


  • Elsewhere, Sven-Goran Eriksson has called for discipline from both players and supporters when England travel to Istanbul......

    As a Brit (Welsh not English) working and living in Istanbul, I only hope the English fans respect the request of the FA not to travel to Turkey on Oct 11th.

    I have only been to one match here - Galatasary v Liverpool in Feb 2002, and it was terrifying, even though I was in the £150 seats, a guest of my Turkish colleagues and wearing a Galatasary scarf. If any fans come out here there WILL be trouble.

    The FA, Sven, English Police, Turkish Police, customs officials, BA and Turkish Airlines all have a responsibility for making sure no fans travel. OK - maybe some fans travel without football shirts, don't drink, are very quiet and act civilised, but I know a raucious fan when I see one, and so should the professionals at Manchester and Heathrow airport.

    Gregg Morgan


  • Also, Bayern Munich have signed Dutch international striker Roy Makaay from Deportivo La Coruna ......

    I hope Makaay will blow the minds of many in Munich. He's an established striker and he fits into any position he's allocated in the attack.

    He's just the right guy at the right time for the right club. With him, I see Munich a tleast in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

    Akinyawa


    All this money spent by Premier League teams and they let the European topscorer get away to Munich!

    Sleep well gentlemen. May he come back to haunt you.

    Raul Mayer, Montreal QC


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