Celtic keep options open

Celtic insist they will continue to explore alternative options after the Scottish Premier League agreed to accept a £65m broadcasting deal with Sky and ESPN.

Celtic insist they will continue to explore alternative options after the Scottish Premier League agreed to accept a £65m broadcasting deal with Sky and ESPN.

The decision was taken when the 12 top-flight clubs met at Hampden yesterday to vote on a new broadcast partner following the demise of Setanta.

Reports emerged earlier in the week that Celtic and Rangers were set to launch a joint bid for the broadcasting rights to Scottish football but no proposal was tabled at the meeting.

The new deal is worth around half of the contract with Setanta and Celtic – who initially opposed the deal with the stricken Irish broadcasters along with Rangers and Aberdeen 12 months ago – are unhappy with the outcome of yesterday’s summit.

Chairman John Reid said: “We need to face up to some harsh realities. In an environment crying out for long-term thinking, this concentration on short-term gain only leads to long-term pain.

“Above all the SPL must learn the lessons of these events. That is why we initiated discussion with Rangers Football Club to examine possible alternatives to the present position.

“We reserve the right to continue to explore those options not only for the longer term benefit of Celtic football club but for everyone involved.”

Responding to those comments, SPL chairman Lex Gold said: “I have just seen the comments from John Reid, the Chairman of Celtic FC.

“For the record, everyone is disappointed with the demise of Setanta, no-one more so than the SPL at the centre, and its clubs.

“Twelve months ago the Executive and the Board of the SPL brought forward two deals which, at the time, were both credible and strong. One from Sky and one from Setanta.

“At the time, the clubs approved the Setanta deal by majority.

“Had we delayed to the normal timetable for going to market we would have been in the middle of the biggest downturn the economy has seen in decades.

“The SPL is a democratic organisation and that process sparks debate and differing views.

“Lessons have been, and are being learned, but our clubs today agreed that there was little value in reheating past disagreements.”

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour insists there was simply no alternative for the SPL.

Gilmour, who was elected to the SPL’s six-man board of directors, said: “There was no alternative proposal on the table.

“It wasn’t a unanimous vote, and I’m not prepared to go in that, but it was passed and so we just have to get on with it.

“We are in the middle of a tough financial situation and the league starts in four weeks’ time and that was the best and only deal on the table.”

A spokesman for the SPL confirmed the Old Firm had not brought their own proposal to the table.

“There was no alternative proposal brought forward by the Old Firm,” he said.

“We needed a vote of 8-4 and, while we will not go into the exact voting, there was enough to secure the approval.”

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