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Celtic and the English League Restructure – is a move on the cards?

Following discussions to restructure the English Leagues and Dermott Desmond’s investment in securing one of the UK’s top managers Eoin Coyne looks at whether that means there’s a chance of a move south and if we should we really want to?

In May a number of proposals were put forward with regards to the future structure of the football league in England outwith the Premier League. Most notable has been the proposal that instead of 3 divisions of 24 clubs a new structure of 4 divisions of 20 clubs is adopted. Naturally English football people meeting to reform English football has prompted some to ask that inescapable, age old question: ‘Does THIS mean that Celtic & Rangers are joining the EPL?’. The answer, as ever, is no. It’s no now and it has been no every single time for over 20 years now. Every. Single. Time.

In all honesty you can hardly blame the English clubs for shutting this down, as awash with avarice and stupidity as the Premier League is they know enough to know that inviting two big bohemoths into an increasingly crowded trough may put their own hill of beans at risk; these turkeys will not be voting for Christmas anytime soon. As much as the Premier League likes to present itself as the most competitive league in the world do not be fooled by this season’s admittedly incredible Leicester phenomenon, that’s your exception to prove the rule and you can expect to see the big money clubs sitting in the best seats again next season. They don’t want to open that moneyed circle and let new people into the tent it’s about exclusivity and suspicously eyeing your neighbour. Remember, they’ve seriously considered a 39th game played outside the UK entirely; no doubt rocking up in a city that already has a team in a painfully unloved domestic league and taking all that lovely lucre back home to Manchester or London or Dubai or wherever. Because fuck the development of the local game eh? It’s time to go door to door, nation to nation and grow that fucking brand because if one thing is for sure it’s that there is not enough money in top level English football.

Sorry I temporarily stroked out there but I am glad you waited, we can only hope to get through this together. So as may be obvious I think the Premier League, whilst a huge money maker and a drama and hype vehicle that can probably only be rivalled by, you know, those American sports, is a bit of a cesspool. Now that might sound harsh but bear in mind that I really only mean that to reflect badly on the clubs, the players, their agents, the tv companies, rolling sports news channels, the mainstream press and pretty much everyone involved in the ‘business’ of football in the Premier League. It may seem unfair to tarnish so many people with such a thick, goopy brush of criticism but this is the league that gave us Robbie Savage; first player then pundit, they also must take most of the blame for Tim Lovejoy. Especially Lovejoy, he got rich off it all and never even played football. Yeah makes you angry now doesn’t it?

"one day, it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine"

“one day, it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine”

But then we’re not all me, you’re you and that’s just swell. Maybe you think Celtic should join the EPL. Well let me just say that you’re wrong and you’re a grotesquely ugly freak. Kidding. But some people do seem to want this very badly. Dermot Desmond is one of them and he knows a thing or two about big business and whispy moustaches. Dermot owns Celtic but sometimes he forgets then, every few years he remembers and gets interested in us again. He’s the easiest one to find google quotes from waxing lyrical about how he sees Celtic’s move to England as somewhat inevitable and only a matter of time really or so that interview from 2007 claims anyway.

But what do the rank and file, less rich, less important people; namely the fans, make of it all? The mainstream media’s report of the proposed restructuring in England (which again wasn’t even the EPL, it’s the football league) was certainly leading; implying that this may open the door on a realistic chance of Celtic and the latest incarnation from Ibrox sneaking in without anyone noticing and grassing to the feds. As all my fellow young and hip people know, opinions only count when expressed online so off I went to see what the denizens of one of the main Celtic forums thought of the proposal.

We are a mixed church, that’s for sure. Online is never a real indicator of overall fan feeling but I think from talking to friends, taxi drivers, random pub goers and various other ‘real life’ people I can safely say I am in the minority here. Most people see far more positives than negatives. Some people really, REALLY want it, and are willing to make the hard sacrifices, like this guy:

“I voted ‘no’ in the independence referendum as I felt that gave Celtic the best chance of joining the English leagues. I firmly believe that this is going to happen.”

Let’s just sincerely hope he was kidding or trolling. In general people seemed swayed by the money more than anything. Playing against big clubs more regularly and the potential to attract bigger and better players to Celtic are understandable desires but it is more galling to read things like:

“It was always going to happen eventually. Football is now a massive industry and Celtic and Rangers are two of the most famous brands, with huge amounts of loyal customers. The only way we were ever going to get in was by extending the leagues, and it sounds like it might actually happen now. Like it or not, it would be good business for everyone involved. Personally, I think the sooner the better.“

Again, that one could be trolling but I saw enough of this kind of talk to make me doubt that. Maybe this is where the line is between the ‘auld cunt’ fan and the ‘neo banker’ fan. I cannot retrain my brain to think of football as industry and fucked if I’ll ever refer to myself as a customer, especially not a bloody loyal one. This guy needs to work on his phrasing. His points are salient in a cold, narrow, business sense. However, not all was despair and woe and some are more philosophical about the whole thing:

Probably in the minority here, but I don’t want us to move down south. We’re where we belong, for better or for worse. I understand the financial implications, but money isn’t everything.”

Personally, I’d rather see us stay in the SPFL even if it is ‘stagnant’.Celtic were a bit crap this season but there were still numerous good games and again both cup competitions provided good entertainment throughout. In terms of population Scotland has one of the highest rates of live game attendance per population. Scottish football may be on a (whisper it) ever so slight upward curve. People are talking about next season with genuine excitement as it is and the eagerly anticipated showdown between the man with the tan n’ teeth and the man who has a hat, or something. Enjoy that, don’t waste it wondering or wishing about some media-fuelled fantasy scenario where Celtc play in England, it wouldn’t be all that. Remember, Robbie Savage and Tim Lovejoy live there.

Would you like to see Celtic play in the English Leagues? Comment below or tweet us @90minutecynic

Follow Eoin on Twitter @fajlovesyerma


Eoin Coyne is a dishevelled 30-something Dublin-based Celtic fan who is ambitious enough to have a leaning towards a team in pretty much every league, so special mentions reserved for St. Patrick's Athletic, Aston Villa, Nantes and Seattle Sounders – all perennial underachievers. He is also a season ticket holder for the Irish national team's games which means he is either a moron or the quintessential optimist. When not complaining about things he enjoys good TV, good or really bad movies, stand up comedy and his futile attempts to play 5-a-side to a competent level. Twitter: @fajlovesyerma

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