Recently Jim Spence has gone on the trail of the potential of Scottish Clubs playing competitively against English clubs. This follows from recent statements by our own Peter Lawwell about the growing disparity between the income of clubs in the big five leagues, specifically through television, and the rest. His comments reflect a growing concern across Europe with numerous clubs and stakeholders actively talking about cross border competitions.
Interestingly Lawwel is no longer talking about Celtic playing in competitions with English clubs, but Scottish football having access to a different playing environment. This makes sense as it may be easier to have the endorsement of Scottish football if it weren’t confined to one club. Moreover as I have illustrated in previous blogs on here, Aberdeen (and also Hibs & Hearts) have equal economic capacity as at least half of the current EPL.
Despite the clarity of Lawwell’s message that this is an opportunity for Scottish football, on the few occasions where the MSM have picked up on this, it has been a Celtic thing. And so we get to Jim Spence’s recent comments and the ignorance of Tom English.
The proposal being actively discussed north and south of the border is some form of merger of the two league cups. At present there is no massive appetite for Scottish inclusion by the EPL clubs – but there IS from the Championship teams. Their league is bust!
Like all things in life, you discuss the principles before getting to specifics. That Jim’s outline lacked those specifics seems to have been the first red flag for our intrepid sleuth English but from what I know the principles would be for both competitions to get to the last 4, then merge to a last 8. This proposal seemed complicated to rocket science levels for Tom and so he therefore began insisting that Spence was suggesting the creation of a new competition – and of course this is a non-starter as there is no space in the calendar and it would be no different to the former Anglo Scottish Cup. The reference to that former competition pricked the ears of fellow brains trust members Billy Dodds and Alan Preston. At that point I sensed Spence couldn’t be arsed discussing this whole thing with the NO brigade.
What Jim didn’t elaborate on was that this is would the first stage of an overall plan to have Celtic (and other Scottish clubs capable of playing at that level) playing league football in England. Why? Because immediately below the EPL, financially the games a bogey and they need a game changer and we would be it. Moreover, they want it. This however completely passes Tom by.
As we know, bottom of EPL this season will get from TV money the same amount Man City got for winning the thing just two years ago. The gulf between EPL and Championship is becoming a chasm and chasing the dream is busting more and more of them – just look at the free-fall of many after leaving the English top flight. Also many have blown £millions unsuccessfully chasing the dream. Despite these facts that most fans know, English kept bleating on about the story having no legs because no-one in England wants us. What has prompted me to write this were the tweets this week from @swissramble on Championship club finances. Rather than try to re-invent the wheel I hope he won’t mind me reproducing his diagrams here;
(Look at these figures and tell me they wouldn’t want thousands of extra travelling supporters and additional TV revenue from a revamped product.)
The plan is to play the League cup for a few seasons, then get into Championship and then after that…who knows. Now I’m not saying this is or isn’t the best solution for us but if I am puzzled by the way it was summarily dismissed by Tom English. Was English playing dumb or is he just ignorant of the facts?