I was originally going to title this blog “Oh Do Shut Up, Mr Desmond!”, because – frankly – that is what I and a lot of other fans are thinking right now.
And not just Celtic fans.
Nothing elicits a collective groan like the resurrected fantasy of the ‘Old Firm’ (sic) joining a British Premier League. Or – more accurately – a revamped English Premier League. This particular moonbeam comes up every now and then, and the EPL has pretty much laughed out loud and said “no way” on each occasion.
Which is unsurprising really, as the EPL is a creature of its member clubs. Who in their right mind (short of something apocalyptic happening) would vote for Scottish ‘clubs’ to come in and potentially deprive two members of a place in the lovely money-filled Jacuzzi?
Because there is no way that the clubs in England would sanction an expansion of the league to accommodate Celtic and Sevco given the crazy number of fixtures that are already played south of the border.
The EPL is likely to remain at 20 clubs or fewer in size, and there are plenty of English clubs already happily competing for those places! Clubs in the English second tier could certainly be expected to kick up a fuss with the FA, EPL and UEFA at the prospect of their route to the Promised Land being made more difficult by ‘outsiders’, even if those outsiders were made to work their way up from a lower tier.
Not only that, we could also expect UEFA and FIFA to be as cautious as ever about allowing teams to cross from one national association’s territory to another. [Assuming of course that the current crises don’t lead to their demise…]
Another fly in the ointment is that there is (of course) no ‘Old Firm’. Rangers died. And its comedic tribute act is so far from being a sustainable all-conquering entity, that it couldn’t even make it to either the top tier or a state of financial security last season. In short, it isn’t a very attractive proposition to the EPL or indeed anyone other than the Real Rangers Men who are currently pumping in epic quantities of ‘over-investment’.
I have doubtless only scratched the surface of the potential obstacles, but there are more than enough listed above to make it clear that a British Premier League involving Celtic and a Rangers*-themed entity is not going to happen. And certainly not in the next 10 years as suggested by Dermot Desmond yesterday.
Ah Dermot. Good of you to join us! It has been a while. I hear you plan to sign copies of your plan to take Celtic into a British Premier League when you turn up at the Celtic AGM later this year…
Quite what Celtic’s major shareholder was thinking when he told STV that he thought there would be a British Premier League in 10 years’ time, and then said similar to Sky before remarking that Celtic and Sevco are among the top ten British ‘clubs’ is anyone’s guess.
It is pie in the sky, not necessarily something Celtic fans would want, is pretty rude to their competitors in Scotland (who rightly groaned at the ‘want-away’ talk), and shows a pretty stunning lack of vision for the club in a Scottish domestic game that has a lot going for it.
When I heard Mr Desmond’s remarks, I wanted to shout “how do we keep improving the game in Scotland? What is Celtic’s part going to be in doing that?” But sadly he was only on the TV screen, and may not have heard me…
Mr Desmond managed to get many Celtic supporters’ backs up by associating the club with Sevco. He should know that the vast majority of supporters remain utterly appalled at the conduct of Rangers from the mid-1980s until their death, and feel cheated of many trophies and memorable days out.
He should be aware that some of his fellow shareholders are still seeking some sort of justice via the SFA through the pursuit of Resolution 12. And he should also realise that the very last thing many Celtic supporters want to see is their club being shackled to an entity which aspires to be Rangers.
And yet he still came out with this pish. Perhaps he is a bit out of touch with supporters’ views? Perhaps he thinks that having two Glasgow teams with large followings in a British Premier League would be good for Celtic from a business point of view?
Either way, it is telling that he has managed to cause an awful lot of Celtic and other supporters to shake their heads in despair. I hope someone points this out to him.
Of course, one man could be relied upon to support Desmond: The Warbmeister!
Having had some sort of credibility-by-association-with-Celtic bestowed upon him, His Needy Warbliness felt able to speak up today. Although even he (unlike Desmond) managed to spot some of the difficulties in getting Celtic and a lower-league Glasgow club into a British Premier League.
“Hopefully in the end we can get into the Premiership or a league that is more a British thing. I am sure sooner or later, some time in the future, not saying the near future, I am sure that will happen.”
“There are a lot of hurdles to overcome before that becomes a reality. What dominates down south right now is TV money, it is obviously different down south to north of the border.”
“You are always trying to keep the product fresh and how do you keep a product fresh? I am sure you will get to the stage sooner or later where team X versus team Y hasn’t got the same appeal to the average fan in the street, whereas Man Utd versus Rangers, Celtic versus Arsenal etc, it is new, it is fresh, it is another level of excitement.”
“I am sure any product is always looking to keep it fresh. If you ask any people down south they recognise the potential of clubs such as Celtic and Rangers. There is no doubt about that. But again, there are many hurdles still to come. Where would they go? What level? How would they get in? How do you start that process?”
The notion of a British Premier League is risible. However, the Evening Shark-Jump and other media outlets will have greatly enjoyed being able to talk about the ‘Old Firm’ once again. Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me if the forces of Real Rangersness in the Blue Room are delighted to hear their Pretendy Gers being spoken about on equal terms with the very real original Celtic.
Meanwhile, many Celtic fans, and the supporters of Aberdeen, Dundee Utd, Hearts, Hibs etc look on with a mixture of irritation and bewilderment.
Nice one Mr Desmond.