RANGERS and Celtic will be playing in England in five years as they are “too big” for Scottish football, Ibrox chief executive Charles Green said last night.
Both Glasgow clubs should have junior sides playing north of the Border, while their “parent” sides join the English set-up – though not necessarily the Premier League right away – said Mr Green, claiming the move would also leave Scottish football “better off”.
Wales will have two clubs in the English Premier League next season if Cardiff City are promoted to join Swansea City and the Ibrox boss said Scotland should be given the same access.
He added yesterday that he was prepared to go to court to fight for a place south of the Border, claiming restricting access was a breach of European competition laws.
“The parents would play in a different league, I believe that would be England,” he said when asked where Rangers saw themselves in five years’ time.
“I’m convinced that Rangers and Celtic will not be playing in Scotland in five years because I think Rangers and Celtic are too big to remain there.”
The alternative for Rangers would be a place in a cross-border European league, he added.
The idea of the Old Firm clubs playing in England has been around for a number of years, but has been rejected in the past by Premier League clubs in England. Although pulling in substantial crowds – Rangers still regularly draw 45,000 at home matches despite their Third Division standing – it could mean a couple of English teams being squeezed out of the top flight.
Mr Green said he was determined to put the issue back on the agenda, this time with the threat of court legal action to reinforce the claim.
He intends to put recommendations to the Rangers board, supported by opinions from three separate legal firms, claiming that to deny Rangers access to leagues in England would be in breach of European competition laws.
“European law is very clear on discrimination and access,” Mr Green said yesterday.
“We don’t want to take them to court, but we could go to court ... it’s a restriction of trade. It’s anti-competition. I don’t think you’d get to a point where anybody would defend it.”
While Fifa and Uefa are currently united in their opposition to cross-border leagues, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan suggested after an International FA Board meeting on Saturday that the concept was not totally dead in the water.
Supranational leagues, such as Dutch/Belgian women’s leagues, have been used as examples. A possible men’s Russian-Ukraine league has also been discussed.
Mr Green added: “There will be cross-border leagues within the next two or three years and I think Scottish football, forget what’s best for Celtic and Rangers, I think Scottish football will be better off without them.”
Rangers also said they had made an underlying loss of £7m in the seven months to the end of December.
They expect to make an operating loss this season but move into profit the following year.