SPL denies Old Firm separate TV deals

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The Independent Football

Celtic and Rangers will not be allowed to stay in the Scottish Premier League if they try to negotiate their own TV deals, the Old Firm clubs were warned yesterday. SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster admitted that the loss of one Champions League qualification spot next year would increase the pressure for change.

But he insisted the Old Firm could not go it alone in terms of TV deals, and he hinted that instead the SPL could be expanded from 12 to 16 teams.

Doncaster, speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, said: "The coefficient being as it is leading to the loss of Champions League representation for one of our teams, will certainly increase the pressure for change.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we need to look very carefully at where the SPL is going. There are two very big clubs and they certainly in the past made no secret that they may be open to invitations from elsewhere.

"The Premier League made it unequivocally clear where they stand on that last year and that means that the two clubs, Celtic and Rangers, are likely to be there for the foreseeable future. I don't think it has any impact at all on individual selling because that is not allowed under the SPL constitution. I find the idea of individual selling very difficult – that's not what football is all about. Collective selling makes a more level playing field for the game."

Doncaster said the expansion of the League was a possibility but that they had to look at a variety of ideas. He added: "There has been talk of the SPL expanding to 16 teams and we have been talking to supporters and there does seem to be some desire to freshen things up. That could mean more teams in the SPL but we have be open to all ideas.

"We know the play-offs in the Football League have been a tremendous success and innovations like that can create so much in terms of excitement, interest and revenue."

Doncaster also expressed his opposition to Uefa's financial fair play proposals which would not allow sugar daddies to put cash into clubs.

He added: "It's very important that it doesn't close off the avenue for wealthy owners, who have the best interests of the club at heart, being able to invest in the right way, through equity or a gift.

"That's just part of living the dream. So long as you avoid the plight of clubs such as Portsmouth with debts they cannot pay off, then you need to keep wealthy owners being able to finance clubs – it's the way many clubs have been financed for many, many years."