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Page last updated at 21:46 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 22:46 UK

Boyle cautious of Old Firm exit

Motherwell chairman John Boyle
Boyle cannot see enough English teams voting for Old Firm inclusion

Motherwell chairman John Boyle says any move by Celtic and Rangers to join an English league would be a threat to the fabric of Scottish football.

The possibility of an Old Firm exit has been raised by a proposal by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside to include the duo in a new two-tier Premier League.

But Boyle warns that the consequences of their departure would be drastic.

"This is a much more serious threat to the fabric of Scottish football than the Olympic Team GB ever is," he said.

"People are looking at this enormously simplistically. You'd be talking about British football," Boyle told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme.

"You would have the largest two teams going off and it's not only their contribution to the SPL that would be significant.

"Playing in cup finals and all the infrastructure and all the expense that percolates down to the other clubs would diminish considerably."

The Fir Park chairman, however, does not expect the Scottish Premier League's top two teams to depart.

"I don't believe this will happen," said Boyle.

"The chances of the Premier League, which is possibly the most successful in the world, reorganising itself is a very remote possibility.

"You have a situation where there are 10, possibly 12 clubs, who are in the drop zone.

"Are they going to vote to potentially admit two strong teams into their body? No. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas."

While admitting that he could see the attraction both for Celtic and Rangers and the television companies who would screen the English Premier League matches, Boyle encouraged everyone involved in the decision-making process to consider the implications.

"If we're talking about clubs going into English football, Motherwell might apply to be in the second division," he said.

Once your two top teams depart your country, your national identity is immediately, fundamentally under scrutiny

Motherwell chairman John Boyle

"Aberdeen, Dundee and Hearts have sufficient population bases to possibly be in one of the higher divisions.

"This would open up all the leagues to a complete reorganisation.

"People must understand that this proposal has radical, dramatic effects right across every aspect of the game."

The Motherwell chairman did concede that there could be some benefits to the remaining Scottish clubs if the Old Firm headed south.

"It might help us in the narrowness of the SPL in that the game would be more attractive," suggested Boyle.

"We might be able to attract a much smaller TV deal and life would go on.

"It's not my view that Scottish football cannot survive without Celtic and Rangers.

"But I do believe there would need to be a major shake-out because Celtic and Rangers are large teams and you'd be looking at their departure affecting everything from amateur level through to the juniors through to schoolboy right up to the SFA."

Boyle, who has tried in vain during his chairmanship to attract fans from the Lanarkshire area to come to Fir Park rather than head to Glasgow to see Celtic and Rangers, ended with a warning of the ramifications of Scotland's two best sides leaving.

He said: "My fear is for the overall fabric of Scottish football.

"Once your two top teams depart your country, your national identity is immediately, fundamentally under scrutiny and you're moving away from a situation where teams play within national boundaries: you are moving to a franchise situation.

"The implications of this are absolutely cataclysmic and they can be good, they can be bad; it depends on your view."

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see also
Uefa would not veto Old Firm move
20 Apr 09 |  Premier League
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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