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Fifa spokesman Keith Cooper
"In al likelihood you will see little progress on this for the time being"
 real 14k

Monday, 30 July, 2001, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Fifa writes off Old Firm hopes
Fifa floor the chances of Celtic and Rangers?
Fifa floor the chances of Celtic and Rangers?
World football's governing body has written off the chances of Celtic and Rangers ever playing in the English Premiership.

Fifa sources have told BBC Scotland that such a move by the Glasgow giants is unlikely to be permitted because they already have a viable domestic league in which to play.

The Fifa pronouncement comes as an English Premiership spokesman again tried to play down the possibility of the Old Firm adding their massive fan base to his money-spinning organisation.

A spokesman for European governing body Uefa had earlier told the BBC that present rules would not prevent such a move.

But Fifa has the final say and a source said: "Given that there is a viable national league in existence, it would appear most unlikely that Rangers and Celtic would be allowed to play in an English league.

Lack of domestic competition

"And there is no compelling sporting reason for them to play elsewhere."

He admitted that there were some precedents, such as a New Zealand club being allowed to play in the Australian league.

There are no plans to change the current structure and no discussions are taking place
Philip French
But he stressed that this had only been allowed because of a lack of domestic competition.

The source pointed out that there was no Fifa statute that would allow the Old Firm to move from a viable league to another country and he saw great difficulty in it ever happening.

He also confirmed that there had yet been no approach to Fifa on the matter.

English Premiership spokesman Philip French also stressed: "Celtic and Rangers are not joining the FA Premier League.

"There are no plans to change the current structure and no discussions are taking place."

Appear confident

Those words confirmed those uttered by Celtic chairman Brian Quinn, who had already admitted that, as yet, only preliminary discussions had been held with English clubs.

Yet Celtic and Rangers both appear confident that they could be playing south of the Border within three years.

It could be suggested that either the Old Firm have had private discussions that have given them an indication that they would be accepted, or they are using the issue as a bargaining tool in their search for a bigger share of Scottish television money.

The Old Firm certainly believe that English clubs would relish the prospect of playing in front of crowds of more than 50,000 every time they visit Glasgow.

Both Scottish clubs are aware that a move south would be financially more rewarding, with Bradford receiving four times as much revenue from television as Celtic's 2m income, even though City were relegated to Division One.

See also:

30 Jul 01 |  Football
Uefa rules will not stop Old Firm
29 Jul 01 |  Celtic
English keen on Old Firm move
27 Jul 01 |  Scot Prem
Murray suggestion 'an insult'
27 Jul 01 |  Rangers
Murray looks to the future
12 Jul 01 |  Celtic
Celtic set for English future
24 Jul 01 |  BBC Pundits
Life without the Old Firm
25 Jul 01 |  Scot Prem
Old Firm to meet on Saturdays
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