Yesterday was another one of those days when an old story made the news, prompted by events in Belgium.
The story was about how Europe might be about to see its first “cross border league” after the Belgium top flight voted unanimously on the “principle” of some kind of merger with their counterparts in Holland.
All very interesting. All very newsworthy.
The thing is, nothing of real note actually happened.
Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s a landmark vote but it’s only “in principle”.
There is no actual proposal on the table. The Dutch leagues have still to hold a similar vote. Even if they also support it, there are going to be momentous hurdles to overcome. Such much about the idea is already being misrepresented.
For openers, this would not be a merger. Although The Daily Record and other outlets are talking it up as one, UEFA has already said that the integrity of the domestic game’s competitions will be respected above all else; that means the Belgium Pro League and the Eredivisie will still exist, and that this “new” league will be separate from them both.
The top eight Belgian teams have basically bribed their way to the successful vote, with “guarantees” that even non participating clubs will still benefit financially. But the creation of a league with no national standing creates all sorts of problems which is why the Dutch teams haven’t voted on it and why there’s actually no plan to base this on.
The Belgian teams have voted for pie in the sky.
There are major obstacles in the way of this, and the biggest is this; who qualifies for Europe?
Do the two domestic associations give up European places to this new division? Why would they agree to that? If they did, why would other top flights not clamour to create their own breakaway leagues?
European football would disintegrate in ten years.
It is never going to get off the ground. There are too many barriers and it would create some much chaos and destruction that UEFA would never actually give it the green light.
But the idea is enough for The Record and other outlets to break out the old tired nonsense about Celtic and “Rangers” moving to England. It’s a pipe dream.
We are no closer to it than we were 20 years ago when the idea first started seriously being discussed.
There is no constituency for this, not anywhere. It has zero support in England.
Honestly, do you think anyone who looked at events from the weekend before last really wants the other half of Glasgow playing against their teams every other week?
The appetite for this south of the border is non-existent.
A few hacks might talk it up from time to time but club chairmen are not interested in it at all. The English leagues are going to protect their own members, first and foremost; none of them is going to vote to invite two new clubs, one of which has a global fan-base and the other of which has a psychotic one.
Just think if they did though; can you even imagine the toll they would exact for the privilege? How’s started three or four divisions from the top? That’s just what the English would ask; Scottish football would bleed us mercilessly, and with full justification.
Fans groups in Belgium have already expressed their outrage at these proposals.
Celtic couldn’t do this without consulting the supporters and I wouldn’t vote for it in a million years, unless a lot of questions were answered and everyone satisfied.
I wouldn’t accept us starting in some English backwater league either; we are not a new club starting from the bottom. We are Celtic, by God, a European Cup winner, a global institution.
If we weren’t being treated as an equal partner … well forget it.
The simple truth of it is that they don’t need us, and they aren’t going to invite us.
Short of an invite the only way to get there is to buy some tiny team, build it, subsume it and take its place; the franchise route.
The worst thing about this constant debate is that it actually takes our eye off the ball here at home.
Rather than trying to crack open the exit door, we should be trying to make Scottish football the best it can be … with real reforms and a better series of TV contracts and other innovations.
Every hour spent on this nonsense is an hour wasted where it counts.
This is the idea that just won’t die … no matter how many times it’s killed.
A little like the idea of “Rangers.”
You can sort of see why its popular with our press.
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