Mark Warburton backs English set-up for Old Firm

Mark Warburton says English Monday night matches lack appeal and could be spiced up by the involvement of Rangers and Celtic. Picture: SNS Group

Mark Warburton says English Monday night matches lack appeal and could be spiced up by the involvement of Rangers and Celtic. Picture: SNS Group

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Rangers manager Mark Warburton has backed the assertion of Celtic’s largest shareholder Dermot Desmond that Glasgow’s two big clubs will eventually compete regularly in a pan-British footballing set-up.

Irish businessman Desmond said that changes in technology that could collapse that broadcast rights market make the move south to a top league possible for Celtic and Rangers within the next decade. The Ibrox club’s manager believes the timescale will be far longer and the involvement initially similar to current European football acess. However, Warburton maintained that “one day” such a move will happen even as he conceded “there is a lot of things to be worked out beforehand”.

You always want to keep the product fresh and new additions who are big clubs with big fan bases would be seen as keeping it fresh

Mark Warburton

“I think the people will want it because of the draw of Celtic and Rangers and their supports,” the Englishman said. “All the obvious things. But I think there are many, many avenues that have to be worked out first.

“It would need people far more clever than I am to work [out how]. But I don’t think you would go into a league straight away. Whether you would go into a cup competition first...I don’t know. I am not sure how they would do that. It’s just my opinion. But I think sooner or later it has to be given some serious focus.

“For me what dominates English football is the TV money. You speak about the quality of the product and so therefore you always want to keep it fresh. If things go stale, all you are going to do is lose viewers, clients and so on. I would imagine it would be seen as keeping it fresh with something new and new additions who are big clubs with big fan bases. Sometimes you turn on Monday night football and it’s Club X v Club Y – does it really appeal to the average man in the street? Suddenly you would get Man Utd v Rangers or Arsenal v Celtic... I would imagine that would be one aspect.”

Warburton wasn’t making any predictions as to the impact that a richly-funded Celtic or Rangers could make in a set-up that hardly lacks such competitors. “That’s another conversation. They are huge clubs, but there are some big clubs down south too,” he said. “Certainly in terms of fan base, it goes without saying they could compete.

“But don’t forget the clubs down south have had TV money for a while now, as you can see with the squad of players. So that’s a big thing to recognise.”

Speaking on Wednesday, Desmond had said: “We would like to compete in the holy grail in England. It will bring money into Scotland and rekindle football in Scotland having [Manchester] United, Arsenal and others. Maybe it’s going to be ten years but I think it’s inevitable.”

English clubs voted against the proposal in 2009 vote, with Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, saying: “It’s a non-starter. No means no.”

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