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."

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?