October 19, 2009

Old Firm Too Old?

So lately debate has been stirring up over whether or not Scottish Premier League giants Celtic and Rangers should join their southern counterparts in the Premier League. It seems more and more people are contemplating the move, for both it's financial and tactical merits. The biggest argument though is the obvious one that the Old Firm needs new competition. Since the SPL's current formation of 12 clubs starting in 1998, no club outside of the Old Firm has won the league.

A bitter Scottish Sun writer moans,
"[Old Firm] fans have been spoiled rotten by non-stop success.
Any of them under the age of 30 have never known anything but the pair of them dominating everything in Scotland.
To the men who run the clubs, though, the growing lack of interest and the alarming drop in income that comes with it is always someone else's fault.
They've genuinely convinced themselves that there's nothing wrong with their own product, it's the opposition that stinks."
The odd thing is that everyone seems to be disregarding this as rubbish talk that just pops up when there's nothing important or pertinent at the moment, but for any Rangers or Celtic fan, it's hard not to stop and think about it. And as an English fan, it definitely isn't hard to see the Old Firm adding a higher level of competition to the Premier League that would bring a much needed change to the big four format.

Of course, the SPL and just about everybody else in the north don't like the prospect of losing the two largest bread makers of the league. Sure it would give other clubs like Aberdeen and Hearts, who have been challenging in the recent past, a chance to place higher than third. But losing out on sponsorships, Setenta TV revenue, and continental interest would too greatly affect everybody else.

It's kind of a tragedy of the commons. The Old Firm know that they can generate better competition and revenue elsewhere, whether it's in the EPL or in a new structured "Atlantic League". Despite this one player's belief, I really don't see the rest of the Scottish competition catching up. And with the rate that the rest of Europe's greatest clubs are climbing higher and higher on top of the endless mounds of money, Celtic and Rangers need a push in that direction so that they don't get left behind by Europe's 2nd rate teams.

There's just too much talk that Celtic and Rangers won't be doing as well this year in the continent as expected. Sure Rangers have some stiff competition, but as the champions of SPL, they need to be at the level. No excuses. Celtic's performances in recent years have been great in the Champions League, but they have to be there every year. Just the same, there's no excuses for Europa League. If they lose this Thursday's tie at home against Hamburg, then you know that the Celtic board will be taking this silly talk a lot more seriously.

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