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Oct, 14, 2009

Dutch chief resurrects plans for Atlantic League

Scotland's Old Firm could be offered the chance to join a north Atlantic league after the president of the Dutch Football Association, Michael van Praag, vowed to resurrect the issue with UEFA.

The concept of a break-away league, in which Celtic and Rangers would compete against clubs from Holland, Belgium, Portugal and Scandinavia, was first mooted at the end of the 1990s but never took off. But Van Praag, who is a member of UEFA's executive committee as well as head of the Dutch FA, believes that while the timing was flawed, the concept was not.

He said: "There was no way we could push that through because UEFA at that time were conservative and full of fear. Now I am part of UEFA myself and, for this course, I can begin the lobby. It makes sense to start the lobbying now."

Both Old Firm clubs are open to quitting the Scottish Premier League, preferably for its English counterpart. But this latest proposal could divide the rivals, with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell last week branding the concept "Frankenstein", while Rangers supremo Martin Bain welcomed Van Praag's intervention.

Bain told the Daily Record: "I find what Michael van Praag has to say of great interest. I mentioned last week it was time for a wind of change in the European game and that there are many other like-minded clubs.

"UEFA themselves realise something has to be done to help the growth of clubs from smaller nations and, in turn, to protect the competitive nature of the Champions League.

"To hear someone of the stature of the president of the Dutch FA saying the time is right to begin serious discussions merely confirms what we ourselves believe. We welcome it and would hope these talks begin soon."

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