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Is It Time To Consider A Legal And Political “Nuclear Solution” To The EPL Threat To Celtic?

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The growth of the EPL, which I wrote about earlier, poses an ever-increasing threat to our club. That league is leeching the life-blood out of the game here. In the end, we are either going to tackle this or we’re going to suffer potentially irreparable damage.

Wages and transfer fees continue to spiral south of the border and that has leaped into other leagues, some of them trying to keep pace with the EPL and some trying to take advantage of their propensity for spending stupid money.

What’s more is that certain clubs in that league are vastly wealthier than others, and this means that there are clubs in that league who have to overspend year on year just to keep up, and sustainability rules don’t seem to matter.

Celtic is in a perverse position. All of Scottish football is.

Let’s right to the chase, and look at why we’re in a uniquely strange spot here.

There is no other nation anywhere in Europe, not one, where the football market is split between various separate “national” entities. Think about that for a second. We are, for all intents and purposes, one country; the United Kingdom, Great Britain, call it what you like. It is a unitary authority, ruled from Westminster.

Yet FIFA recognises four separate national associations within a single border.

You show me where else on the map of Europe, or indeed anywhere else, that this is permitted?

You show me what other national associations in Europe are, in fact, not recognised countries, independent and free?

The UK is permitted to do what no other nation in Europe is allowed to do.

And I wonder why nobody has ever tested the legal strength of the EPL television deal on that basis.

We are either all part of the same country or we’re not.

The UK government keeps on telling us we’re “Better Together”.

Yet one “national association” has secured for itself all the fruits of a television deal which everyone in this unitary political body who has a TV package pays into just the same.

The deal is blatantly corrupt in the sense that it benefits only England.

I’m not asking for an equal share.

Not unless we have the most extreme scenario here, which I will outline as part of this article.

But a dividend? A recognition that having these sperate “markets” is blatantly discriminatory and might even be illegal? Who wants to find out? If we threaten to test the theory who do you think would blink first?

Where is our cut?

The unique position we’re in should have some benefits, some upside, and not just this colossal downside.

If the SFA threatened to challenge this in court – as they should have decades ago on the proviso that it should have been a UK wide deal benefiting the game across these islands – would they win?

Here’s a better question; what do we have to lose?

Well I do know one of the reasons why they won’t.

The current system suits them just fine.

They are content to be the kings, even if the kingdom is rubble. The SFA sits on UEFA’s main body, the Executive. So too does England. The SFA will not risk that by rocking the boat, although this boat needs to be rocked.

The exalted status of Scotland, England, the Six Counties and Wales as “separate nations” is afforded to no other nation at UEFA and that we were all stuck together as part of the EU shows you just how perverse it actually is that UEFA lets this happen. It’s as if Spain suddenly gave up its European football seat and divided into regions, and each took its own.

The only concern of our governing body is that if push came to shove that UEFA might finally stop viewing these countries as separate and do away with that status entirely.

What that would look like is up for grabs.

Probably the elimination of the status quo would lead to the collapse of every domestic league body and the creation of a super-league comprising clubs from all four “countries.”

All four “countries” would cease to be as well.

Does anyone want that?

I find it hard to imagine, but that doesn’t mean that it could not happen.

But this is a classic example of certain people having their cake and eating it too.

If that was the threat, I think the English FA would cave first and give up their dough.

This is where we get into extreme scenarios.

On the surface of it, a UK wide league would benefit Scottish clubs infinitely more than those south of the border, who suddenly would have to share all of the wealth with the rest, not just a chunk of it to keep us sweet.

To give you an example of what it would do to their game, let me tell you what the makeup of the Premiership would be if, as UEFA might well mandate, a UK league was based on co-efficient rankings.

As they look right now, the EPL would be a drastically different competition.

Ready to have your mind blown? Here it comes.

The British Premier League would be comprised of the following teams, in order of their co-efficient rank; Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham, Sevco, Celtic, Leicester, Newcastle, Brighton, Aston Villa, Wolves, Linfield, The New Saints, Hearts, Aberdeen, Hibs and Dundee Utd.

That is transformative. That is a revolution.

Six Scottish teams. One from the Six Counties and one from Wales.

That’s game-changing. That’s Year Zero and “where do we go from here?” stuff.

At the very least, the Court of Arbitration for Sport should be asked to examine the England only TV deal and whether the proceeds should be shared evenly across the island, and then nobody at UEFA could have the slightest concern about it.

Because the argument isn’t a football one, it’s a political one.

The position of the Westminster government is that we’re all in this together. If that’s true then the “English football TV deal” is blatantly corrupt, because there is no national boundary and therefore no logical argument against the proceeds of that deal being shared, and there might not be a compelling legal argument either.

It simply requires somebody to test it.

Or – and here’s where life gets interesting – someone to run for office making this one of their central planks.

On the surface of it, I see no reason why Scottish Labour don’t put some version of that in the manifesto; a review of the current system, perhaps leading to some form of legislation to share the proceeds of sport across the UK with all the citizens of the UK.

Who could possibly argue against that?

The Conservatives can hardly oppose it, can they?

On what grounds would they do so?

The SNP might find it an issue, in fact they certainly would.

But the political calculation should be that it’s a means of giving Scotland some basic fairness, and the redistribution of wealth from England to our game. But I know why they wouldn’t give it their backing.

Because of course, the deal is good only as long as this island is “one nation” and not a minute longer.

Which is why ultimately the SNP would not support the idea … it would be a way of strengthening the union.

You see the dilemma?

For the record, I would vote for independence anyway, the issue being much bigger than just how it impacts my football club. There are compelling reasons for this country going it alone.

At the moment, in terms of football, we might as well be.

Between political pressure and the threat of a legal challenge, I think that there is a deal to be done if the SFA has the balls for it.

The clubs should not simply accept the current status quo as if there were not alternatives to it.

Every means of protecting the game here should be on the table and up for debate.

There is a moral case for it.

A political case for it.

A financial case for it.

And as long as the UK exists there is certainly a legal case to be made.

The people running football here don’t have the balls or the imagination to progress our national sport.

When clubs in our top flight can be easily outspent by teams in League One, you tell me that there is such a thing as too extreme a measure to solve that problem?

You tell me that the risk is not worth the reward?

Because we all know that it is.

It is a drastic, radical, thermonuclear solution I’m proposing here but it’s clear that this is swelling into an existential issue.

Some form of European League might be in our future but we have no way of knowing how many years away it might be or what state Scottish football might be in before it arrives.

I know this; the life is being leeched out of the game here by the vast disparity between what English clubs earn and what we get and that cannot go on.

So eventually, Celtic is going to have to consider what it does in the long haul.

Are we going down with the ship or are we, ourselves, going to get real and start looking at radical, perhaps even thermonuclear, solutions? Because it might actually get to the point where we have no choice in this, where the only options are to fight or the death of a thousand cuts.

If the current leadership at Hampden won’t challenge the way things are going then maybe we have the wrong leadership at Hampden and that has to change first. I’m all for that, for various reasons, but this one … this is the one that might force that whether those running Celtic like it or not. Our very survival as a credible club might depend on it.

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  • Martin says:

    Scotland has been perfectly happy to accept the arrangement for decades. Significant precedent set. Wouldn’t even make it past their own lawyer’s first look.

    Next.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      My God Martin you’re not only an expert on refereeing, now you’re an expert on the law. Not that I think your view will ever be tested.

  • John Copeland says:

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that Celtic FC cannot be offered a spot to play in the English league set up going by your premise that we are a single unit in the UK , of which I agree with you totally James . Yes , we will have to start at somewhere near the bottom but as I’ve stated previously , that will be short lived . Celtic FC has to be looking at plying our trade outside of totally inept , incompetent , unfit for purpose and yes I’ll say it …bent Scottish football as soon as humanly possible . In my book it’s called evolution ….

  • Harry says:

    I am sure that the four home nations have the veto at fifa and Uefa and wouldn’t want to give it up it gives them certain positions on the executive

  • Frank Duffy says:

    A brilliantly interesting concept James! And I agree wholeheartedly. And, as you rightly say, the higheed yins at Hampden would never be in favour of plucking the feathers out of their golden goose. I fear if such a proposal was officially put to them on paper it would find itself buried in the Jorge Cadete drawer of their filing cabinet!

  • Bob (original) says:

    Unfortunately, the SFA doesn’t do change – without a fight – or improvement.

    Just one example: VAR.

    Scottish football has undoubtedly lost out on many opportunities over the

    years, because it is operated as a boys’ club of incompetents.

    Just one example: the unqualified, glove puppet, CEO Maxwell.

    Taking the initiative is just not the SFA way… 🙁

  • Tizwalt says:

    I’m sure that in the Champions League if a Scottish team qualify then the English clubs get slightly less tv money due to the tv payment is for the uk wide market.
    Theoretically if the N Irish team and Welsh team and two Scottish teams qualify with the 4 English teams the same tv money would be distributed to all the teams leaving the English teams with slightly less as if it was just them qualifying

  • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

    Sooperb…
    You’re on a winning streak lately.
    Hope you’ve got your Euro/Lotto numbers on for the weekend.

    In other news a certain Pundit Mr A ‘Super Swally’ McMoist has been
    done for speeding twice in the same day.
    Must be down to all the Legal Cases he’s involved with just now.
    All that cutting about from Court to Court,Insurance matters.
    The inevitable blowback from McCoist Junior’s Legal travails.
    Fat Sally must be wishing he had helping hands in the Legal Profession.

    Quelle dommage.

    • Wee Gerry says:

      From what I’ve heard he has had plenty of friends on every level of the legal profession for decades.

      For if he hadn’t a couple of speeding tickets would have been the least of his worries.

  • Bernie Mackin says:

    The reason being we are a Union of 3 countries and a bastard statelet. Which of course Westminster will never confirm because it would undermine the UK. And this link will explain everything because it is one big lie design to keep Scots in our place. All an illusion and lie to plunder Scotland, we are a colony.
    https://salvo.scot

  • Lubo's Boots says:

    Mind blown James. And I salute your passion to upend the system. But it’ll never change.
    The big leagues get all the money, and I’m sure between the TV companies, the heads of the big leagues, and UEFA, and all those billions of Euros spinning around, that they all have the interests of the wider fanbase at heart, fairness at forefront of mind, and there is absolutely no illicit money changing hands to ensure the best deals, not a penny. Not in UEFA. You can trust them, morally saint-like to the bone. ;o)

  • SSMPM says:

    Struggle with this interpretation. The UK is an amalgamation of countries, a union apparently all willingly signed up.
    Scotland is in it’s own right an independent nation decreed.
    Scotland choses to and votes in favour of being part of a union of nations politically, economically, etc. Like it or not. Scotland can be and can vote to be an independent nation. It choses not to. Sadly; but we are an independent nation. HH

    • Michael McCartney says:

      If Scotland was an Independent Nation and the Union was a Voluntary Union then Scotland could have an Independence Referendum anytime the Scottish Parliament voted to have one.
      The British Supreme Court have ruled it would be unlawful to have a Referendum without the permission of the Westminster Parliament.
      I think that decision has made it clear that sadly, Scotland is not an Independent Nation.

  • Effarr says:

    The best solution would be for Celtic to go it alone and stream all their home games live.
    If they can get 50,000 ST holders, surely they could get at least the same amount among those who can*t get to games or get a ST. A £15 pay-as-you-go would help to counteract any proposed moves. Even live + 1 would be worth a tenner. Another £10 million a year would compensate for any jookery pokery from outsiders.

  • Johnno says:

    Getting very political today on the eve of a big match James?
    Not the best subject to try and unravel politics within sport, especially with looking at money as a root problem, when the whole issue runs far deeper than that.
    Only need to take a look at the situation upon the island of lreland to see just how messed up the situation still remains.
    Can play as 1 country at the current world Cup?
    Yet remain as 2 shite teams trying to qualify for world and euro competition, with little to no chance of either being successful in the foreseeable?
    We continue to have to deal with British ignorance that the province of Ulster is confined to just 6 counties?
    So do the people of Donegal, Monaghan and cavan don’t exist?
    The GAA and rugby realise and understand that fact, yet football can’t and won’t still?
    1 province, 2 codes within the sporting world understand and respect that, yet 2 governments and 2 footballing associations involved also?
    So not just money will ever resolve a current issue, with the amount of history and politics involved?
    Even the Republic weren’t involved in the so called home nation’s international series, which only really ended with the English home of football was invaded by the Scots every 2 years.
    Possibly the impact of that invasion is still being felt today within the footballing world at least?
    This so called British empire remains with a huge identity crisis, where so many don’t even know who they actually are these day’s?
    Scottish or British? Irish or British? Welsh or British?
    No such identity crisis exists within the Republic, even if there remains a joke of many claiming to be British? Yet no one outside of there tiny minds regards them as the likes?
    This issue remains with making a Hun mentality, with a royal family and a British government relevant with power?
    Until there all broken down and eliminated as such, the nonsense continues without much real resolve in sight either.
    Our own celtic support numbers have dropped with the interest and following of the EPL within the Republic, with celtic more of a second team to be taking an interest within, which remains a sad fact to what it once was?
    As a club we still need to preform better within European football to change the existing problem, yet money remains a massive issue still?
    Seems like we will continue to be going around in circles upon the whole issue for the foreseeable, in much the same way a British identity crisis still exists anyway imo

  • Fun time frankie says:

    James scottish football is a bigger joke than WWF and not one person on our board will want to change a thing when they can get millions put into their bank accounts without lifting a finger.

    • Wee Gerry says:

      Sad but true that.

      Well said.

      Celtic, for all our recent dominance, will always be Judy to Sevco’s Punch and one day soon enough some rich investor will come in and milk those monkeys dry like Mike Ashley’s been doing all this time, except these guys WILL actually invest in the team to keep the show on the road.

      And neither Peter Lawwell nor any other Celtic director will be able to say one word nor lift a finger in protest thanks to the wholly clandestine 5 Way Agreement which has assured that there will indeed always be ‘a Rangers’ with the SFA & SPFL their ever obedient subservient puppets on the end of the Masonic string.

  • John S says:

    A case we should be looking at is Wrexham, a Welsh club in the English League. Why not a Scottish one ?

    • Wee Gerry says:

      Swansea and Cardiff also.

      They got in because the English never felt threatened by them unlike the numerous doings Celtic have given the big English clubs down the years.

  • Somehow says:

    The product would be diminished immediately with Six Scottish clubs in it. The TV money als

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The so called Nations of the UK are very strange in the World of football, I’m always surprised that the members of FIFA and UEFA accept the situation of 4 places in World Cups and European Championships being taken up by, lets face it, regions rather than nations.
    As a guy who thinks Scotland should be an Independent Nation, it would be hypocritical of me to push to join a British league. What I am surprised about is that the Uber Unionists from down Ibrox way and the Unionists in the Celtic Boardroom haven’t taken the Unitary State argument further in their pursuit of being part of the EPL or at least getting a share of the finance from The British television broadcasters.
    The Unionists in Scottish Football are very strange people who seem to be quite happy to take any crumbs from these broadcasters, whilst they destroy our professional game.

    • Wee Gerry says:

      The reason why is very simple but no one wants to accept it:

      It’s all a prearranged Masonic stitch up.

      I’ve noticed that even the most vociferous bloggers will not ever admit to the cold hard reality of this fact underpinning the game we love and by leaving it in those bastards’ hands we’re just going to have to accept whatever they decide to give us.

  • Mark b says:

    My added issue is this. As a shareholder in Celtic a UK plc there are restrictive practices in the Uk that restrict my shareholder value. That would be a real challenge to the system.

    • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

      Hadn’t thought of it that way. Excellent point.

    • Wee Gerry says:

      No one will ever really challenge the system.

      Sure, they have placemen in place who appear to be challenging it but no real challenge which will give everyone their fair due at the expense of men like Lawwell & Desmond will ever be allowed to gather any momentum far less even reach the surface.

      It’s all nicely rigged in the current set up to suit everyone which is why no one but the deranged hubristic Sevco are ever knocking at the SFA’s door demanding answers.

      And Celtic, to our eternal shame, have tacitly agreed to go along with this scenario so long as we get a couple of decades of dominance until the time comes when it’s Sevco’s turn.

      Gotta keep the charade going as the part of the mutual agreement.

  • S Thomas says:

    Scottish football is an absolute joke with garbage teams in it. Celtic should do everything possible to get playing down south, I’d absolutely love Celtic in the EPL, as in my opinion it’s the best league in the planet, with brilliant managers and players. A mean look at big Ange now, no disrespect to our players, but he now coaching guys like James Maddison, who is a brilliant player and Spurs have some right good players, with good money to spend. I have always said if Celtic were in the EPL, we would do well , the only problem we would have is IRA songs that some of our fans sing, that would not go down well down there for obvious reasons. Celtic are far to big a club to be playing in this garbage league.

  • John S says:

    The key to the alluded riches is the discrimination in withholding them. How can a Welsh club have access to the English League but not a Scottish one ?

  • John S says:

    Maybe someone should tell Linfield ?

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