THE Old Firm can become financial powerhouses if they are allowed to join the Premier League, according to the author of an annual report on Scottish football’s finances.
David Glen, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes the prospect is more likely to occur than ever before because of the nature of the latest proposal.
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has formulated a plan for two 18-team divisions, the second of which would initially include Celtic and Rangers.
There are many obstacles to overcome, not least the approval of UEFA and governing bodies on both sides of the border, and talks on the matter have been delayed until at least the summer.
But Glen feels this particular plan is more attractive to clubs in the bottom half of the English top flight, whose status would naturally be threatened by the arrival of the Glasgow clubs. And he argues the Old Firm would challenge the hierarchy in the English game if they had access to massively-increased TV revenue.
Both clubs have average attendances above 50,000 — only Manchester United can accommodate more fans than Celtic in Britain — and large fan bases in parts of the world including Ireland, North America and Australia.
“Rangers and Celtic have always had a very large income stream despite not being in England or in one of the large European leagues,” Glen said.
“They have always teetered around the top 20 in the money league in Europe. It always seemed to me there’s a fantastic income base already. If you add the TV income to that, they would become very powerful.”
Gartside’s plan would need backing from 14 of the 20 top-flight clubs but, with the spectre of relegation haunting most this season, the prospect of softening the financial blow of dropping a division could hold appeal.
The Scottish Football Association have refused to comment on the proposal but they are likely to oppose any exit of the two biggest clubs.
UEFA have revealed they would not oppose Celtic and Rangers joining a Premier League II and would be willing to leave any decision to the leagues and associations involved.
Director of communications William Gaillard said: “We wouldn’t take a position on such a proposal.”
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