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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Old Firm scupper SPL TV
Celtic and Rangers abstained at Monday's meeting
Ambitious plans for a new Scottish Premier League television station appear to be dead after the Old Firm refused to back the proposal.

All 12 SPL clubs met at Hampden Park on Monday morning to discuss the plan for a subscription-based channel.

An 11-to-one majority was needed for the plan to move it forward to the awarding of contracts.

But Celtic and Rangers abstained during a meeting that lasted less than an hour.

There is no doubt this is a serious blow to Scottish football
SPL chairman Lex Gold
And the SPL will reconvene next Tuesday to thrash out the future of broadcasting rights in Scotland's top league.

The Old Firm had been warned that the other 10 clubs could resign from the league if they scuppered SPL TV.

In a joint statement, the two Glasgow clubs explained that their decision was based on "the incompleteness of information available, the high level of business risk attached to the project that is not adequately addressed and a lack of firm substantiation of the plan assumptions".

SPL chairman Lex Gold does not rule out the possibility of SPL TV being resurrected but admits that it is more likely that other alternatives will now be sought.

A decision on Monday was seen as necessary to allow sufficient time for a television channel to be created in time for the new season.

But he warned that there had never been an alternative bid for television rights from Sky and that it the financial future of Scottish football was now extremely uncertain.

It also places a question mark over the future of SPL chief executive Roger Mitchell, as the separate television channel was his brainchild.

Gold said: "Contrary to what appears to have been a common view, there was no bid for our pay TV broadcast rights from any party.

"That was the position we found ourselves in at the end of December last year.

"Faced with a broadcasting market that had collapsed, Roger Mitchell developed an innovative and visionary plan for SPL TV, a plan which has attracted a great deal of attention from other countries.

"It is to everyone's credit that we developed and took this initiative so far in such a short time.

Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston
John Yorkston was determined not to bend
"Two clubs felt unable to support it and their eleventh-hour request for radical changes to the rules of the SPL - and to the content of the SPL TV channel deal - could not be accepted by the others.

"There is no doubt this is a serious blow to Scottish football.

"But the board and the executive of the SPL will now turn its mind to developing other opportunities."

Opinion among the other 10 clubs appeared to be hardening and Dunfermline Athletic chairman John Yorkston said that they were perfectly prepared to resign en masse rather than back down to the Old Firm.

A weekend newspaper report had suggested that the Old Firm are close to signing a separate deal with Sky TV to screen all their home league matches for 16m each, although this has been denied by Celtic and Rangers.

The Old Firm could be reticent about committing themselves to SPL TV for four years as this might jeopardize their chances of a move to England once the Premiership television rights come up for negotiation.

SPL chairman Lex Gold
"Celtic and Rangers voted against it"
Is it the end for the SPL as we know it?



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Scottish football crisis


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