English top flight rejects the Old Firm

Gartside's plan to create two-tier Premier League is dismissed by club chairmen

England's 20 elite clubs yesterday killed off any hopes that Celtic and Rangers held of joining the Premier League in the foreseeable future by voting against proposals to invite them south. The idea of the Old Firm joining the League was described in an official League statement as "not desirable or viable". One source said: "In a vote, the clubs came up with an emphatic 'no' to the idea". The League's chief executive Richard Scudamore said yesterday that the Old Firm would "never" be welcome.

The Old Firm had hoped for lengthier consideration to plans put forward by Bolton's chairman, Phil Gartside, for a restructured, two-tier, 38-team Premier League, which would have seen Celtic and Rangers joining the lower of those two divisions from the start of the 2013-14 season.

But while Gartside's overall proposals for change will be given more thought – with the rationale that the League's riches could be more evenly shared – there was an unexpected vote on the Old Firm, because, as one source said: "It had become an issue that needed to be put to bed."

Some high-profile managers have backed a move to England for the Old Firm in the past week, including Everton's David Moyes, Tottenham's Harry Redknapp and Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill. And Gartside is not without support in some other Premier League boardrooms, notably at other unfashionable, unprofitable clubs, like his, that despite their top-flight riches, still lose money. Bolton's accounts for the year to June 2009, released last week, showed a loss of £13.2m.

But for now, it seems, a majority of the elite still think there would be more to lose than gain from embracing the Old Firm. The "big four" of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool see no benefit in encouraging competition from the Scottish giants, who, armed with League cash, might challenge them. The same philosophy is probably also in play at Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham and Villa, whatever the managers at the latter say. And if Celtic and Rangers did move to England, there would be two fewer places in the League, however many divisions it had, for two English clubs, possibly two of the current 20.

Yesterday's vote will not end the debate, far from it. Depending on the financial crises that are slowly but surely squeezing the life from Bolton, West Ham, Portsmouth, Hull, Blackburn, Fulham, Wigan and others, any plan that might offer more money will get an airing from time to time. Celtic and Rangers would certainly add value to Premier League TV deals. But unfortunate timing meant Gartside got shorter shrift than anyone expected.

Rangers' finances are woeful (£31m in debt and annual losses of £13m last year, according to figures released yesterday) and their latest episode of fan violence, in Romania last week, hardly make them this week's pin-up club. Uefa fined them £17,988 yesterday. Meanwhile, the group of Celtic fans who marred a Remembrance silence last weekend at Falkirk only highlighted that sectarianism remains Scotland's not-so-secret shame.

Gartside is concerned that the Premier League's top and bottom clubs have disparities in League income (winners Manchester United pocketed £52.3m of League TV money, while West Bromwich got £31.6m), although this ratio is much narrower than most European leagues. He is also concerned that the top clubs make £20m-£33m per year in Europe on top. "Addressing this polarisation of clubs and the increasing revenue differentials will, I believe, be the major strategic issue for the Premier League over coming years," he wrote in Bolton's annual report.

A League statement said: "The other relevant ideas contained within Bolton's paper will now be taken forward as part of the wider strategic review being undertaken by the Premier League since November 2008 with the aim of providing recommendations before December 2010."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil