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Sunday, 7 April, 2002, 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK
Levein wants Old Firm kicked out
Hearts head coach Craig Levein
Craig Levein wants his club to have a chance of title
Hearts head coach Craig Levein wants the Old Firm forced out of Scottish football.

He believes that the domination by Celtic and Rangers is killing interest across a formerly soccer-crazy nation.

The Scottish Premier League's other 10 clubs are on a collision course with the Old Firm over television rights.

Celtic and Rangers voted against plans for a subscription-based SPL TV and the other 10 have warned that they could resign from the league as a result.

Rangers and Celtic have outgrown Scotland
But there is a groundswell of opinion among fans outwith the Old Firm that, if the crisis led to the two Glasgow giants moving to the English Premiership, it would be for the good of the game in Scottish.

Levein said: "To kick some life and some interest back into Scottish football, I think that if they left it would be an opportunity for half a dozen teams to have a chance of winning the league."

The Old Firm play to huge crowds every week, but Levein used Alex McLeish's Hibernian side of 1998-99 as proof that other clubs would benefit without Celtic and Rangers.

"Hibs went down to the First Division and the crowds were better while they were winning than they had been in the Premier League," he said.

"They didn't play a derby and they didn't play the Old Firm. People turned out to watch because they had a chance of winning the league.

"I think if Aberdeen had an opportunity of winning the league and ourselves, Hibs and Dundee, then okay the TV money wouldn't be there, but I would like to think that we would get more people through the turnstiles.

"Fifteen years ago, if you had come out at the start of the season and say 'I don't think we have a chance of winning the league', you would have been slaughtered by your supporters and the Press.

Hibs face Clyde
Hibs got larger crowds while in Division One
"But now everybody just accepts it. Everybody accepts that Celtic or Rangers will be first or second and I don't think anybody could argue with that.

"Put yourself in my position; I'm managing a team that, in all reality, isn't going to win the league it is playing in.

"And you've got supporters paying money for season tickets to watch a team that is unlikely to win the league they are playing in."

As for Monday's meeting, Levein added: "I think there are a couple of options and one is that we go ahead with this SPL channel and we are all pulling in the same direction.

"The second one is Celtic and Rangers leaving the league."

See also:

07 Apr 02 |  Scot Prem
SPL clubs threaten to quit
04 Apr 02 |  Scot Prem
SPL clubs discuss split
Links to more Heart of Midlothian stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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