Alan Pattullo: English fan power will scupper latest plans for British Super League involving Rangers and Celtic

Just because complete revolution was avoided earlier this week when a proposed European Super League imploded, that does not mean radical change is not on the horizon.

This week has seen renewed talk of a British Super League involving Rangers and Celtic, in action at Ibrox last week above  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
This week has seen renewed talk of a British Super League involving Rangers and Celtic, in action at Ibrox last week above (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

In the British game, certainly, we’ve already moved on to a discussion about a cross-border league involving Rangers and Celtic According to a report, moves have already begun to invite Rangers and Celtic into a British Super League but with the antennae of English fans now twitching at the mere hint of something likely to subvert the principle of sporting merit, opposition is certain to be fierce.

Although the story was broken by an England-based reporter, it does not seem to have caught the imagination of the English media and public. Perhaps because they know, as we all do, that we’ve here before.

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Inevitably, there was a discussion on TalkSport about the prospect. Jonathan Woodgate, the Bournemouth manager, made his objection very clear. “It wouldn’t be fair,” he said. No doubt others in the Championship as well as further down the tiers will be of similar mind. However, this concept - a slightly less extreme redefining of the football map to a European Super League - is gaining support within the corridors of the game’s governing bodies.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has already given his blessing to the idea of cross-border leagues, with Holland and Belgium moving towards such a set-up. Mexican teams are also being lined up to join MLS in the United States.

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While English fans might be firmly against the British Super League idea, the mood music in Scotland has shifted from feeling insulted at the thought of being spurned by Rangers and Celtic to being in favour of it.

We have recently marked the 35th successive year where one of Rangers and Celtic have won the league. Even when the Ibrox club suffered financial meltdown and spent four years out of the top tier, no one was able to lay a glove on Celtic. The smallest points-gap was 15 when Aberdeen finished second in 2015-16. The Pittodrie club were the last to win the title outwith the Old Firm, in 1985.

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Football has changed beyond all recognition since goalkeepers were permitted to pick the ball up after backpasses and fans stood – and peed – on the terraces.

Normal service was resumed when Celtic pinched the title from Hearts on the last day of the 85-86 season. So much about society and the way we live has altered since then. And yet here we remain, still under the yoke of the Old Firm and hurtling towards 40 years, and, let’s face it, probably half a century, of Old Firm title hegemony.

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Can anyone see the status quo changing anytime soon? Indeed, a Leicester City-type scenario is probably becoming less likely. Even TV deals are hinged on the need for Rangers and Celtic to play each other four times each season.

It’s not the way anyone wants sport to operate, as shown by the response across Europe this week. But Rangers and Celtic seem wedded to Scotland, for better of worse, especially with English supporters – Arsenal’s being the latest, before last night’s game with Everton – protesting because, as one put it, “we didn’t want to destroy sporting merit for the entire football family”.

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