Old Firm will never join Premier League says Scudamore

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The Independent Football

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore today insisted the campaign for Celtic and Rangers to be allowed to join the English top flight is over for good, saying: "No means no."

The 20 club chairmen today overwhelmingly rejected a bid to include the Old Firm in a two-tier competition, with almost three-quarters voting against the proposal by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside.

Other suggestions put forward by Gartside, including having a two-tier league with a smaller top-flight and changing the distribution of TV money will now be fed into the league's ongoing strategic review.

Scudamore told BBC Radio Five Live: "The clubs discussed this and, as far as Celtic and Rangers are concerned, it's a non-starter.

"The clubs constitutionally voted to say we are not going to take this any further.

"We have made a clear and unequivocal statement. No means no - Celtic and Rangers are not coming in."

Gartside's other proposals have not been rejected but will now be part of a wider review of the top flight, which will be published next year.

The Bolton chairman had expressed concerns too much money continues to flow into the coffers of the top four clubs.

Last season, champions Manchester United earned £52.3million in Premier League television money, compared to £31.6million for bottom club West Brom.

In his annual report, published last week, Gartside made it clear he believed addressing the big differences in income was the league's greatest challenge.

Gartside wrote: "The gap between Premier League revenues and those of the Championship continues to widen and I believe a 'fear factor' is beginning to emerge amongst Premier League clubs outside the top few."

Following today's chairmen's meeting in London, the Premier League said in a statement: "Bolton Wanderers submitted a discussion paper detailing ideas concerning the restructuring of the Premier League into two tiers with the inclusion of Celtic and Rangers.

"The clubs welcomed the additional input in to an ongoing process; however they were of the opinion that bringing Celtic and Rangers into any form of Premier League set-up was not desirable or viable.

"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."

The big Premier League clubs will oppose any major change to the status quo, pointing out they have already boosted income to the smaller clubs by agreeing to every club receiving payment of facility fees for at least 10 televised matches totalling £4.8million, even if they only appear in a handful of live games on TV.

The next overseas TV deal - which is split equally among clubs - is likely to be close to £1billion, almost twice as much as the current £650million, meaning an extra £6million per club per season.

The Old Firm released similarly-worded statements about the Premier League snub to Press Association Sport this afternoon.

Celtic said: "Clearly, this is a matter for the Premier League and an initiative created by members of the EPL.

"We have always maintained a watching brief on this issue, however at the moment we note the decision and move on."

Rangers added: "We note the statement issued by the Premier League earlier today.

"We were not actively involved in the Phil Gartside proposals presented to the EPL but have watched with interest the development of this issue in recent months."