Should Celtic and Rangers Be Added to the Premier League?

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The plans, drawn up by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, are intended to bridge the financial gap between the Premier League elite and the rest of the game, but they are thought to have little chance of being accepted by a majority of club chairmen.
Gartside has circulated a summary of his proposals running to just two pages to club chairmen in the Premier League and Championship.

The document, produced in response to Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore’s call for contributions to a strategic review, outlines six key points, which Gartside says will increase the popularity and profitability of the game.
The document proposes increasing the total number of teams in the Premier League by extending it to two divisions, split into an upper and lower tier.
The upper tier would be 18 teams, while Celtic and Rangers would be invited to join the lower tier, which has an unspecified number of clubs.

Increased overseas TV revenues and the £36 million in parachute payments that presently go to relegated clubs would be used to “seed fund” the expansion.
Sources at the Premier League and Football League have indicated that the Gartside proposal, though well-meaning, has little chance of gaining momentum among clubs.
His motivation is to protect the ability of sides such as Bolton to compete, and to cushion the blow for those relegated, where broadcast revenues are less than 10 per cent of those in the Premier League.

While a number of club chairmen share his concerns, he is likely to fall short of the 14 that will be required to effect change. A more likely outcome is that his intervention will spark renewed debate about the distribution of television revenue within the league.

At the moment the club finishing bottom receive about 60 per cent of the sum paid to the champions. Last season that amounted to a gap of £20 million between the £51m paid to Manchester United and the £31m received by West Bromwich Albion.

This gap is exacerbated by the extra revenue earned by Champions League clubs, which has helped polarise the league between the ‘Big Four’ and the rest.

Celtic and Rangers’ inclusion is also likely to meet with opposition, with Scudamore already having indicated that it is unlikely.

There are major security concerns about admitting the Old Firm clubs to English football, and there would be significant resistance from the Football Associations in England and Scotland.

The impact on Scottish football would be devastating, removing the primary source of income for all clubs.

Stoke chairman Peter Coates agreed with Gartside that the English game needed reviewing but said he would not support the Old Firm proposal: “We have lots of fine clubs in England to play and we have a system that has worked very well in a competitive sense.
“We have 20 teams in the Premier League and they are all tough games. If Celtic and Rangers were to come in, after a while that would become the norm. It would be no big thing. I think the minuses outweigh the pluses.”

Gartside’s formula:
1: Expand total number of teams in Premier League.
2: Extend league to two divisions split into upper and lower tier.
3: Reduce upper tier to 18 teams. Number in lower tier not specified.
4: Use extra overseas TV revenue and £36?million parachute payments to fund expansion.
5: Invite Celtic and Rangers to join lower tier.
6: Consider the regulatory challenges, mainly from English and Scottish FAs. (Daily Telegraph)

So essentially we have two issues here and it appears that whilst the idea of splitting the Premier League into two tiers could well breath more life into the ‘lower’ leagues it seems highly unlikely that any planned inclusion of Celtic and Rangers will simply not get off the ground.

This old chestnut comes around pretty much every year and whilst I can understand why both sides want to be moved into the Premier League I can also see the myriad issues against such a move. At the very least surely if either Glasgow side wanted to compete in the top tier of English football they would have to do so the hard way and make their way through the league system as this is after all how all the other sides have to do so.

The fact that Celtic and Rangers are a country mile ahead of their Scottish competitors probably says as much about the lack of investment in their fellow SPL counterparts than it does about the manner in which the Old Firm clubs are run.

There is just no comparison between the spending power available to the Scottish giants when aligned and contrasted with just how little the other members of the Scottish League have to play with.

In theory I think we can all agree that it would be very interesting to see just how well Tony Mowbray and Walter Smith’s sides would do when pitted against the cream of the English crop but in practice it just doesn’t seem plausible. Who would like to see this pipe dream finally come to fruition and who is happy to keep the status quo?

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