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Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:17 UK

Top-flight 'reticent' on Old Firm

Celtic Rangers
Celtic and Rangers could play Old Firm matches in the English league

The proposal to create a two-tier English Premier League could be discussed at the league's Annual General Meeting in June.

Chairmen from England's top-flight met on Thursday but BBC Scotland has learned Bolton chairman Phil Gartside's proposal was not formally discussed.

If Gartside's plan did garner enough support, it could pave the way for Celtic and Rangers to play in England.

European football's governing body Uefa say they would not oppose such a move.

Gartside is preparing a plan to include both teams in a two-tier Premier League of 18 teams each.

The idea would have to overcome a number of obstacles if it was to come to fruition, and Uefa has consistently said that teams will not be allowed to play in leagues outside their own country.

But Uefa's director of communications William Gaillard told BBC Scotland on Monday the matter would be something to be decided between the leagues and associations involved.

Those bodies would be the Premier League, the Football Association, the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football Association and the Football League in England.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are likely to be against the plan as it would reduce their income.


Others such as Aston Villa, Tottenham and Everton, who may consider it unlikely they would ever drop out of a 20-team Premier League, may also have misgivings.

Mid-table clubs might also struggle to cope with a drop in television money as the cash is spread more widely.

In theory, any addition of the Old Firm to an English league could provide a stiffer test for Scotland's top two clubs and generate more enthusiasm from broadcasters and fans.

That would make up some of the money each club would lose if the Premier League is expanded from 20 to 36 clubs.

At the moment, teams relegated to the Championship are given £11.5m a year for two years because of the lost television income when they drop out of the top flight and are not promoted back into it.

Gartside's plan, which will need the approval of 14 out of 20 Premier League chairmen, would offer more financial stability to teams in the lower half of the Premier League, who would then be able to plan for the future with greater certainty.

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see also
Boyle cautious of Old Firm exit
20 Apr 09 |  Motherwell
Bolton chief wants radical change
23 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Strachan predicts new Euro league
12 Nov 07 |  Football
Old Firm's move dealt a blow
15 May 02 |  Scotland

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