Today, a story from UEFA which will spark excitement in some quarters over the “prospect” of Celtic and our city rivals joining the English league setup. A case has been filed against UEFA by a club which currently plays in Luxembourg. The idea behind the case is to force open the door for clubs in one jurisdiction to join the league set-up of another.
It is dead in the water before they even start.
So what if the lawyer responsible was the same guy who filed the Jean Marc Bosman ruling? This is a different prospect entirely, with far more moving pieces and a far bigger target in its sights.
If we’re talking honestly, nobody really supports this idea because although it looks good on paper it really doesn’t amount to much when you strip it down to its constituent parts. Even if you force the hand of UEFA, you can’t force English football to accept us nor dictate to them what our starting position on the ladder would be if they did.
The reason this idea will die on the vine is that national association are dead-set against it. Celtic and Ibrox will never leave Scottish football to go elsewhere, because firstly there’s really nowhere to go because nobody wants us, and secondly because if we tried to the SFA would impose such a tax on us that it simply wouldn’t be worth our while.
We would leave Scottish football a virtual desert. It would take the game ten years to recover from it, and although I suspect the sport here would be stronger for it eventually that would cut no ice with the clubs left behind in the here and now who would see sponsorships plummet, TV deals collapse and a variety of other consequences roll out.
Belgian clubs deluded themselves that a cross-border league with some of the best sides from Holland was feasible. Until the Dutch clubs, partly under pressure from their own associations, pulled out of the discussion. There was virtually zero support for it amongst the sides not directly involved, and the same door would be slammed in our face in England.
Think of a club like West Ham or Leicester, fighting, even as we speak, for relevance and European football every year. Are they seriously going to invite a club like ours to join their setup, when that’s not just another competitor but one capable of establishing a global footprint which dwarves anything that they themselves can put together?
There is no chance of it whatsoever, even if this guy pulls off the miracle and someone collapses the concept of leagues and nationalities being of fixed status … something that could actually devastate the framework of the entire game, which is another reason it won’t happen.
UEFA will simply not permit anything with the power to cause that sort of destabilisation and I suspect that a court will agree with them in principle on this one.
What UEFA should be forced to consider is cross-border redistribution of TV money.
That’s what they should be shooting for, and the only chance that our league has of ever being more. We share an island with the English game, and the TV markets for them are tied together tight. Legal options in the area of creating regional TV pools would be smarter than any suggestion that borders should be eliminated and teams free to play where they want.
This fantasy has stalked our steps as a club for too long.
Its rise again is most unwelcome and an un-necessary distraction.
We are a Scottish club. Our future is here.
Those running things on behalf f the clubs here simply have to do better and be more creative in their search for solutions to our problems, and those solutions are out there, as I’ll talk about tomorrow.