Celtic boss 'obliged' to consider joining Premier League

Celtic boss 'obliged' to consider joining Premier League

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell claims he would not be doing his job if he did not examine the possibility of joining a revamped Premier League.

The issue of the Hoops leaving the SPL has come to the fore once again this week, with Bolton chairman Phil Gartside the brains behind a new two-tier English Premier League that would include the Old Firm.

Gartside is set to float the idea at a meeting of top-flight clubs tomorrow, although the topic is not officially on the agenda.

Lawwell insists Celtic are proud of their Scottish heritage but says it is his duty to investigate anything that would be of benefit to the club.

He told Celtic TV last night: "We are a Scottish club. We are playing in Scotland at the moment and are delighted to do that.

"It's an exciting league but, in the long term, we have a responsibility to look. I think we would be obliged to look closer at something like that.

"We don't know anything about the details but we believe it is not only Bolton and Phil Gartside who have support for it.

"We'll just wait and see how it develops. These types of things have happened before and they haven't been able to deliver, so we will wait and take it from there."

Celtic and Rangers have made no secret in the past of their desire to join the English leagues.

Gartside's proposal would see them placed in the second tier of the Premier League, a division he believes would help soften the blow of relegation for top-flight clubs.

Lawwell agrees, saying: "I think there is a very strong rationale at the moment for an EPL2.

"The bottom half of the EPL at the moment, especially this year with it being so tight, are getting a wee bit concerned that it is such a huge drop from the EPL into the Championship.

"So I guess they are looking for a softer landing and, potentially, this could deliver it.

"I believe the top four are looking for less games and an 18-team league. Maybe this could deliver that as well.

"Circumstantially, at the moment, there seems to be a lot going on but only time will tell how that will affect Celtic and Rangers."

Starting in the second tier would see the Old Firm miss out on Champions League football for at least one season, if not longer.

Lawwell said: "It's too early for us to even consider that. But we all have a responsibility here to look at what is best for Celtic Football Club and our supporters.

"If the right proposal comes along, we will give it serious consideration and see where we go.

"It's very early and we haven't been involved in these new ideas."

Any move, which could not take place until at least 2013 because of various broadcasting deals, would need the backing of the Football Association and Scottish Football Association.

UEFA have already said they would not oppose the plan but Lawwell warned: "They would have to become involved in any restructure and we would have to give it serious thought."

Meanwhile, Lawwell has promised manager Gordon Strachan money to spend in the summer after a quiet January transfer window at Parkhead.

He said: "We'll sit down together - Gordon and I - and we will be planning to strengthen the squad once again."

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