Why the Premier League Needs Celtic And Rangers And Vice Versa

A move to the Premier League for Rangers and Celtic would improve attendances figures and could lead to an end of sectarianism...
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A move to the Premier League for Rangers and Celtic would improve attendances figures and could lead to an end of sectarianism...

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This is a debate that seems to have been going on forever, with Old Firm  of Celtic and Rangers seemingly desperate to play their football south of the border and Richard Scudamore equally desperate to defend the English (and Welsh) status quo. That the inclusion of the Old Firm would make the EPL more marketable in those increasingly  lucrative overseas markets (and I should know because I live in one of them) goes without saying. The problem is how to integrate the two clubs without upsetting those smaller teams outside the top six or seven who would inevitably lose out.

The following two tables really speak for themselves. Based on the logic that the only way to compare teams across different leagues is by looking at their average attendance figures, we can imagine roughly what a two-tier Premier League would look like, with sixteen teams in each division.

  1. Manchester United 75,500
  2. Arsenal 60,000
  3. Newcastle United 51,500
  4. Manchester City 47,000
  5. Celtic 46,900
  6. Rangers 45,750
  7. Liverpool 44,700
  8. Chelsea 41,500
  9. Sunderland 40,500
  10. Everton 36,400
  11. Tottenham Hotspur 36,100
  12. Aston Villa 35,100
  13. West Ham United 34,700
  14. Southampton 30,900
  15. Stoke City 26,900
  16. Norwich City 26,700

The Rangers figures incredibly are for their 2012-13 season in the fourth tier of Scottish football. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Rangers fans, that’s a wildly impressive level of commitment to your club. This is how the EPL2 (which is how it would be marketed) would look, if it was based on average attendance figures (which obviously it wouldn’t be – again I stress this is only a rough guide):

  1. Brighton and Hove Albion26,200
  2. Fulham 25,390
  3. West Bromwich Albion 25,360
  4. Sheffield Wednesday 24,100
  5. Reading 23,900
  6. Derby County 23,200
  7. Nottingham Forest 23,100
  8. Cardiff City 23,000
  9. Leicester City 22,100
  10. Wolverhampton Wanderers21,800
  11. Leeds United 21,600
  12. Swansea City 20,400
  13. Wigan Athletic 19,400
  14. Charlton Athletic 18,500
  15. Bolton Wanderers 18,000
  16. Queens Park Rangers17,800

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None of the other Scottish clubs would make it to an EPL2 of sixteen based on average attendance. I make the next biggest Scottish clubs on this model Hearts (13,000), Hibs (11,000), Aberdeen (10,000) and Dundee United (7,500) although I’ll admit I haven’t looked into this aspect in much detail.

Splitting the top two tiers into 16-clubs each would increase the level of competition and ultimately the marketability of the second tier. It would also make the prospect of promotion from the third tier much more exciting (and potentially more profitable) for the clubs involved. That third tier would possibly include the likes of Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen.

One last point – a lot of people dismiss the idea of the Old Firm in the EPL because of the sectarianism. I think this needs to be looked at from the complete opposite perspective. Would the sectarianism be a bigger problem if the Old Firm remain in the SPL or if they played most of their football south of the border? In theory one of the biggest arguments in favour of what I would argue is already a very exciting idea, which is that it might reduce community tensions in those parts of the British Isles that probably need to feel a bit more included.

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