Do the English top-flight need Rangers and Celtic?
The English Premier League is to discuss proposals for a new two-tier set-up that could involve Celtic and Rangers. Here, BBC Scotland's CHRIS McLAUGHLIN outlines the agenda for Thursday's meeting in London.
WHO IS MEETING AND WHY?
The meeting is being billed as a gathering of English Premier League shareholders. In effect it's a gathering of the 20 member clubs. They meet regularly to discuss various issues and concerns. It's rare for all 20 chairmen to be present, but each club is usually represented.
SO WHY THE FUSS OVER THIS ONE?
A proposal is being put forward by Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside for a radical shake up of the league. He's suggesting that the English Premier League (EPL) should expand and break into a two-tier system with each league having 18 to 20 teams.
Gartside thinks that by expanding and splitting the EPL, there would be a fairer distribution of television money. He's looking to soften the financial fall from the Premier League to the Championship.
Under the proposal, Celtic and Rangers would be brought into the second tier. The Bolton chairman will argue that the Glasgow clubs' huge fan bases will increase gate revenues and add value and interest to the new set-up. There may also be a proposal to bring in an Irish consortium at a later date.
HAVEN'T WE HEARD ALL OF THIS BEFORE?
There has been talk about a possible move to England for the Old Firm in the past, but the scenario has never been discussed officially until now. The move is on the agenda and this time the EPL will definitely have its say.
Another difference this time is that the proposal is being driven by someone in England. In the past the possibility has been raised by one of the Glasgow clubs. Gartside alone is the man behind the plan.
SO ARE THE OLD FIRM INVOLVED AT ALL THIS TIME?
Both clubs say that they will maintain a watching brief and see what comes out of the meeting. They are anxious to point out that they are not driving change, but would certainly be keen to discuss it if the possibility was to present itself.
Both Celtic and Rangers have never hidden their desires to move on to a bigger league. They feel they have hit a financial ceiling in Scotland and look on with envy at the broadcasting cash that flows into smaller clubs in England.
SO HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT THE MEETING WILL FORCE CHANGE?
It seems highly unlikely at the moment. Gartside needs 14 out of the 20 member clubs to back his plan. He does have support but it appears he doesn't have the numbers.
A few years ago all of the clubs were reported to have said no to the idea; one club has already had a change of heart. We'll find out later just exactly how many others will follow. Celtic and Rangers may not be moving south tomorrow, but they'll take any interest as a sign of progress.
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