A couple of weeks ago Premier League clubs rejected the proposal of allowing Celtic and Rangers to join the top flight of English football, and I have to say I am glad they did.
Why should Celtic and Rangers join the Premier League? For one, they simply haven’t got the quality of a mid-table team, or as former Celtic legend Frank McAvennie said “If the two were playing in the Premier League today, they would finish bottom and second bottom”
Together Celtic and Rangers form one of the most fiercest and famous rivalries in sport: The Old Firm, and over the past 25 years they have dominated football in Scotland, if they were to leave then without doubt the SPL would most likely fall flat on its face because there would no longer be a main attraction.
Of the 18 clubs that have played in the SPL since it’s inauguration in the 1998-99 season only two clubs have won the title: Celtic and Rangers, 6 and 5 titles respectively.
There has been only one season when both Old Firm clubs failed to occupy first and second place in the SPL and that was in the 2004-05 season when Hearts separated the two by finishing second behind Celtic. And with the way things are going this season I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again.
Both Celtic and Rangers have racked up huge debts in recent times with Rangers £31.1m in the red, and Celtic not far behind. Like everywhere else the recession is hitting the SPL hard, which has seen a reduction in ticket sales. In a recent Scottish League cup tie where Celtic lost 1-0 to Hearts only 18,000 people turned up at Parkhead, which has a capacity of 60,000, while Rangers performances and recent crowd trouble in Europe have been particularly woeful.
One time Celtic could boast of having big named players such as: Henrik Larsson, John Hartson and Chris Sutton, but now they have players like: Georgios Samaras, Marc Antoine Fortune and Scott McDonald, all who are credible players in their only right but not exactly the quality you need when you are competing in Europe or the Premier League.
Neither club can attract the big named players anymore, so instead they are being forced to pick up players from the League of Ireland as well as delving into the lower divisions of the Football League in England.
The Old Firm is the classic example of two bald me fighting over a comb, but the gap is beginning to narrow, and with only three points between league leaders Rangers and fourth place Dundee United, the notion of other clubs mounting a serious title challenge is no longer as far-fetched as it would have been 20 years ago.
Other clubs are beginning knocking on the door, but will the find the key to open it?