Celtic/Rangers rejection makes sense, but so does two-tiered Premiership concept

This week the Premier League rejected a proposal by the Bolton chairman to include Celtic and Rangers in a two-tiered Premier League with the Guardian saying that 14 clubs voted against it.

There are two ideas here that want to handle separately. First is the Celtic and Rangers problem. Clearly, they have outgrown the SPL and its financial limitation, chiefly television rights fees. From their perspective, I can completely understand their attempt to go anywhere in search of the cash to match their clearly lofty ambitions. But, from the Premier League’s perspective, it doesn’t make all that much sense to introduce one of the world’s most poisonous, distasteful, and violent rivalries to a league and a country that has worked extremely hard over the last 20 years to reduce hooliganism. Bringing in Celtic and Rangers fans with their clear and recent histories of sectarianism and outright violence (Rangers fans marauding through Manchester a few years ago comes to mind) does English soccer no good whatsoever. While Rangers fans have probably been guiltier of violence lately, Celtic fans singing songs of IRA “heroism” present just as much of a problem from a PR perspective. They’re both guilty.

All that being said, the more I think the Premiership would do really well to add a second tier and end performance-based relegation after that second tier. Meaning, you can get relegated from “Premiership 1” to “Premiership 2” but you cannot get punted out of the second tier based on performance alone. To see that happen, a club would have to have financial irregularities (bankruptcy/receivership) or some kind of other malfeasance. A two tiered uber-Premiership would give clubs relegated from the top one – as Bolton might see happen some season soon – a softer financial landing. It would also provide an ability to gather greater TV figures by ensuring that all of the British Isles’ (you heard right) large market are included. Here was a quick sketch I did a few weeks back using this year’s Premier League as a starting point.

Premier League 1
Arsenal
Aston Villa
Birmingham City
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Burnley
Chelsea
Everton
Fulham
Hull City
Liverpool
Manchester City
Manchester United
Portsmouth
Stoke City
Sunderland
Tottenham Hotspur
West Ham United
Wigan Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League 2
Leeds United
Dublin FC
Glasgow FC

Blackpool
Bristol City
Cardiff City
Coventry City
Derby County
Ipswich Town
Leicester City
Middlesbrough
Newcastle United
Nottingham Forest
Peterborough United
Plymouth Argyle
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Reading
Scunthorpe United
Sheffield United
Sheffield Wednesday
Swansea City
Watford
West Bromwich Albion

Not accepted into new league: Crystal Palace, Doncaster, Barnsley.

This new league structure would incorporate clubs but all from two of Britain’s 20 largest cities with only Edinburgh and Belfast missing out.

You probably have noticed three new additions at the top of Premier League 2. The first is Leeds United. Yup, they’re poor now, but you’re not going to leave Britain’s fifth largest metro area out of the structure. The second addition is a hypothetical Dublin FC, playing at new Lansdowne Road in the Irish capital. Finally, there is the truly a creative idea which is Glasgow FC – completely new club based at Hampden Park that is free of sectarianism and founded with key missions of providing a safe, sectarianism-free fan experience and developing the Scottish player. Let Celtic and Rangers fight it out in their own parochial, sectarian cesspool. The future, and the entertaining non-crap soccer, will be elsewhere in Glasgow.

I have rather arbitrarily whacked Crystal Palace, Doncaster and Barnsley from the new league. I did this because they were the smallest clubs from the two urban regions (London & Manchester) with the most clubs.

About the only club/city I would like to see in this league, that I haven’t been able to slot in is Southampton, Edinburgh and maybe Belfast. Regardless, I suspect the future of English soccer lies in a two-tiered Premier League that will look something like this one. With all the largest TV markets included, TV rights will continue to rise and with the risk of catastrophic relegation reduced through better division of TV money, club values increase across the two divisions.

Within these two divisions, you could get creative with promotion and relegation as well. How about guaranteeing promotion and relegation to the winner of PL2 and the bottom club of PL1 while sending the other four clubs at the top of PL2 and the bottom of PL1 into a playoff with each other? You could just throw all six clubs into a little round-robin if you wanted, but that risks the season running too close to international tournament-time in the summer. Anyway, you can play with pro/rel formats forever.

What do you think?

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25 thoughts on “Celtic/Rangers rejection makes sense, but so does two-tiered Premiership concept

  1. You don’t think maybe drawing the Old Firm into the Premiership would help them clean up their act? Its a whole different ballgame when you’re not the two biggest kids in the nursery. England has shown itself fairly adept at dealing with Hooliganism and theres no reason to believe Rangers and Celtic present problems that could not be solved. Its certainly a better idea than some polly annish Glasgow FC founded on love, peace, and faith in the human spirit.

  2. So you’re for it?

    Jacksonville’s average attendance this year is around 45,000 fans a game. That’s very low for the NFL, but it would be the fourth-highest in the Premier League this season.

  3. Also, Dublin is in a completely different independent country from the rest of the UK. Belfast, by all means; Dublin no.

    From your list, I would take off Dublin, Scunthorpe, and Peterboro (by FAR the two smallest markets), and re-add in Palace, Belfast, and either Norwich or Southampton from League 1.

    or; move Newcastle and West Brom back to Prem 1, add in Palace, Belfast, Norwich, Southampton and Barnsley, and you’ve got yourself two 22-team divisions.

  4. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to keep the current Premier League, but move to a more restrictive system of promotion and relelgation? Start with something like the Mexican league, where relegation is determined by the average of the last three seasons; send only one team down; and hold a playoff with the promoted team rather than making the relegation automatic. That way one bad year doesn’t send the team down automatically (and crash it out of the TV money) like it does now.

    As for inclusiveness, this still leaves a window for teams like Leeds to come back up; and realistically, there are only three large cities in England (London, Birmingham and Manchester) and they’re all represented.

  5. I should add. I sketched this out while sitting in a boring meeting, so obviously, there are improvements that can be made.

  6. “Finally, there is the truly a creative idea which is Glasgow FC – completely new club based at Hampden Park that is free of sectarianism and founded with key missions of providing a safe, sectarianism-free fan experience and developing the Scottish player.”

    Isn’t this exactly what Queen’s Park FC is already. They are amateur but they are in the Scottish League(currently 3rd Division) and already play at Hampden Park.

  7. Ah yes, let’s chuck 120+ years of history out the window for the sake of the almighty pound. This post makes me want to choke someone…really I could care less about the big fish little pond clubs from Glasgow but to destroy the very core of what English football is and has been would be one of the biggest tragedies in the history of sports…

  8. this is actually quite brilliant that an american would propose scrapping two of the most storied clubs in britain because of disproportionate claims of hooliganism. not saying the old firm is void of it but it’s not out of league with what is found down south. to propose a new club to replace the other two is completely daft. nice reference to the clubs and their supporters as a cesspool, don’t you have breaking news to follow from the usl? finally, dublin is not part of britain, it’s in the republic of ireland. this’ll be the last “blog” i read of yours that’s for sure. perhaps you should learn more about certain topics before you post on them

  9. Wait. It’s not April 1st. I’m confused.

    It’s annoying when Europeans and American Eurosnobs tell us that MLS isn’t a real league because it doesn’t have pro/rel, has a playoff system, and uses a salary cap. The converse is that it is absurd to tell the English how to run a soccer league, especially if that advice includes inventing new teams that are not even located in the federation in question.

    This reminds me of that Budweiser commercial that was running in Britain a few years ago that imagined the EPL if it were run by Americans.

    My advice would be to pay closer attention to what is happening in your board meetings in the future. Dividing your cognitive efforts does not seem to produce very good results.

  10. There are too many pissed off Catholics and Protestants looking for an excuse to brain each other for your Glaswegian proposal to work.

  11. You can’t just ask a city to embrace a new team, specially with if it already has 2 teams with over 200 years of history between them and a very staunch following for both of them.

    Besides, it would be years before the team was competitive at any level, do you seriously think second division teams would just allow a newly formed team to join the premiership without ever having earned it’s dues? This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. It would just create more bad blood.

    And if you have ever met any Scots, you know how a lot of them feel about England. Do you really think they would ever embrace a team imposed on them by the ENGLISH over Rangers and Celtic?

  12. It seems farsesque… Dublin is in Eire, not in the UK, so why should it be there to begin with; Glasgow already has a third team, Queen’s Park, as somebody wrote. Also, generally speaking, teams in Europe are not just “created” out of nowhere and put in the top or second top division, they have been there for a long time and climb up to their actual position division after division. I don’t think that Celtic and Rangers playing in the EPL is more unfair than Swansea and Cardiff playing in the (English) League Championship

  13. SFA would never give approval to an English league setting up a franchise in Glasgow independent of Rangers and Celtic. Never. Paris Hilton stands a greater chance of being elected President of the United States. The FAI might be more amenable, but the SFA would fight.

  14. Here’s how I translate your asinine post into American:

    Met fans hate Yankee fans & vice-versa in the US. I propose relegating these 2 incorrigibles to AAA and creating the NY Gentlemens and the Queens Tea Sippers. That’s how ridiculous your idea is.

  15. Its a sport not a bloody business, denying teams the right to better themselves is disgusting unsporting and quite frankly laughable.

    I also Dont think that The Free Staters would be too pleased about being included especially because like Belfast, Dublin has a great selection of Football teams.

    Oh i forgot to add Dublin is also in a completley independent country.

  16. The idea has some mileage but the workings you have are completely wrong. Rangers and Celtic wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) unite. But a British (and Irish?) League, where there are a top two divisions, followed by the old system of regional leagues of England, plus Scottish/Welsh and, possibly, Irish leagues competing for promotion?

    Although it seems obvious the big two Glasgow clubs would be big enough, with the money possibly on hand, Hearts could easily be the new Chelsea (only make sure the next Eastern European mogul isn’t as mad as Vlad). Aberdeen could profit from the vast wealth of the oil companies looking for worldwide advertising. Could Dundee, Inverness, St Mirren or whoever ever reach the top echelons? Well, could Stoke or Hull ever get in the Premiership?

    For EPL teams, the negative factor is losing money. The only issue for those outside England is: could you see many Scottish/Welsh supporters rooting for Team UK in the World Cup? Its a big price to pay.

  17. So the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Same sh!t-different week.

    As for the teams you list what exactly have Plymouth Argyle done to get in there? For starters their stadium is 7,000 odd less than Palace FFS.

    Wigan were a lower league team until 2005 and have the 32nd best attendance in England http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigan_A….C.#Attendance seeing as your “list” is two groups of 20. Thirty second would put them in the middle of the second “list”.

    Burnley get into the first “list” on what basis?

    Hull City-10 years ago 92nd worst club in England and hours from going out of business.

    Pompey-20,000 seat stadium-NO room for expansion and a new stadium put on indefinite hold. 20,000 people cannot support a Premier team-hence their recent fire sale and near administration.

    and that’s just the ones i can be bothered to comment on.

    Lastly “a soft landing” have you not heard of parachute payments.

    You want a two tier system start with the MLS and USL and leave 120+ years of history the **** alone. Oh and Scottish teams play in Scottish Leagues, unless of course you wanna see DC United move to say the Icelandic League.

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