SPL could thrive without Old Firm, claims Hearts boss

Hearts manager John McGlynn believes the SPL would be more exciting without Celtic. Picture: TSPL
Hearts manager John McGlynn believes the SPL would be more exciting without Celtic. Picture: TSPL
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HEARTS boss John McGlynn believes a Scottish Premier League without either of the Old Firm sides could be more exciting because any club would have a realistic chance of winning the title.

The last time the Old Firm stranglehold was broken was when Sir Alex Ferguson led Aberdeen to the title in 1985.

With Rangers consigned to the Third Division, the Celtic board have admitted that they would consider a move to a European league in the future - and McGlynn believes that could be a good thing for the top flight.

The Tynecastle boss said: “If you look at the league table there are only six points between second top and second bottom. Nobody has shown any consistency, with so few points between so many teams.

“Celtic have been the most consistent, leading by two points with a game in hand. But even looking at that, who would have thought Celtic would be only two points clear by November?

“That in itself is another statement as to how tight it is.

“Take Celtic out of the league and what have you got?

“A league where nobody could predict anything because it’s so tight and so evenly balanced.

“I think it is an exciting season, even if most people expect Celtic to win the league. I don’t think anyone has changed opinions on that. It’s a case of when rather than if for Celtic.

“It is tight at the moment, though, and it’s up to the rest of us to continue to make it tight.

“But imagine how many fans would think their team could win the league if Celtic weren’t in it.

“They would all fancy their chances of winning the title and that would generate great excitement and bring fans back to the game.

“We would fill our stadiums if fans thought their club had a realistic chance of being champions.”

TV money

McGlynn admits that SPL clubs could suffer financially and the absence of Celtic would inevitably reduce the value of any television deal, but he inists that it is an interesting prospect.

He said: “The stadiums would be packed but I can’t tell you the value of the TV packages. If more crowds came in would it balance that out? I don’t know.

“You would have to ask how much we would get if the stadiums were full but we did not have TV coverage.

“It’s all hypothetical but it’s interesting.

“I’m convinced crowds would come back if everyone thought they had realistic ambitions of winning the title.

“I actually think it’s exciting right now because, from week to week, somebody else is second in the league – then they drop points and someone else takes over.

“How many times has that happened recently?

“It’s great just to be competing for second in the SPL this season and every team thinks they can do it.”