Rangers and Celtic 'odds-on' to stay in SPL

Ralph Topping, the new non-executive chairman of the Scottish Premier League, believes the Old Firm are odds-on to remain in the SPL.

Topping, who will remain as chief executive of William Hill, takes up the newly-created role at a time when Rangers and Celtic have never been more public in lobbying for an exit from Scottish football.

A Hibernian fan from a Hearts-supporting family, Topping is well aware of the Glasgow giants' desire to move either to England or into some sort of European league.

However, wearing his bookmaker's hat, he played down the prospect of any breakaway, urging both clubs to "live in the real world."

"The story about Rangers and Celtic leaving the SPL has been running for about eight years," he said. "It hasn't happened yet, they keep knocking on the door, I'm told, but it's a very difficult thing for them to achieve.

"In fact, as a bookmaker, we are quoting Rangers and Celtic remaining in the SPL until 2019. We are taking a very realistic view on that.

"Rangers and Celtic are fantastic brands, they have fantastic management and that management wear two hats. One is the commercial development of their club and one is the development of the SPL.

"In day-to-day terms, they manage their clubs well and make a significant contribution to the SPL and I'm happy with that.

"Every chief executive has the duty to look at developing the commercial environment of their club so I can see what they are doing to satisfy shareholders.

"But there is a difference between having ambition and living in the real world. "I prefer to live in the real world and I don't see it happening."

Topping admits marketing the SPL without either of the Glasgow giants would be problematic. "It would be very difficult," he said. "They are international brands, well-known, and it would make the job a little more difficult.

"They go back a long way, part of the fabric of Scottish life and we would like them to continue in the SPL."

Topping, whose post with the SPL is unpaid, will ease himself in to the job before he makes recommendations as to what improvements should be implemented, although he insists the current focus on youth should continue. "After four days in the business I am not going to presume that I know everything," he said. "When I became chief executive of William Hill I took my time.

"I took a good look at the business and gave my viewpoints and I will be prepared to do the same in three or four months' time.

"Early in the new year, I would be prepared to say where this business needs to go.I love the Scottish game," he added.

"I would like to see more youths coming in to Scottish football, although I think that direction of travel has been set anyway.

"As a Hibs fan, I remember you used to get a whole panoply of players coming through at Easter Road from John Blackley to Alex Cropley. I believe the young players are still there."

Meanwhile, Barry Robson is determined to resurrect his Scotland career after making his first SPL start since February. Robson started Celtic's goalless draw against Motherwell on Saturday after finally overcoming groin problems.

The midfielder had become a key player for his country and Robson is eager to make his return when Scotland face Wales in a Cardiff friendly on 14 November. "That's something that is very much on my mind, to get back involved with Scotland and try and help Scotland progress," Robson said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral