Football: Celtic's buy-out of Dons scotched

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The Independent Online
The Celtic chairman, Fergus McCann, was yesterday named in a report which claimed that the Glasgow club want to join the English Premiership by buying out Wimbledon.

Officials north and south of the border were quick to play down the likelihood of that, but a midweek European league involving top British sides in harness with a revamped Scottish set-up is far more likely.

McCann's suggestion may merely have been designed to strengthen his hand in an expected forthcoming battle over TV rights by both Celtic and their Glasgow rivals Rangers.

Celtic moving into the Premiership is a non-starter according to the rules of both the authorities north and south of the border. The Scottish League rules state they need two full seasons' notice for a club to terminate its membership and that when that happens, players' registrations would be retained by the governing body.

But what is clear, with Rangers this week having met Ajax, Milan and Liverpool in an indoor six-a-side tournament in Amsterdam, is that both Glasgow clubs are constantly reassessing their roles. The trip to the Netherlands by Rangers followed last week's pounds 40m investment in Ibrox by the Bahamas-based Joe Lewis.

It is clear that both clubs want more regular European competition, although whoever wins the Scottish Premier League this season will probably face two preliminary rounds in the summer to enter the Champions' League.

McCann and his Rangers counterpart, David Murray, are presumably jealous that English clubs like Wimbledon receive several million pounds each season from TV revenue, while Scottish deals are loose change by comparison.

n Celtic reduced Rangers lead at the top of the Scottish Premier Division to six points after a 2-0 win at Dumfermline last night. Paul McStay's first goal for 11 months and Jorge Cadete's 25th of the season clinched victory at East End Park and ensured a seventh successive win, including one in the Scottish Cup.