Your basket

Join The FSA

Fears for tiers – fans don’t want Old Firm in PL

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Last week we began to hear rumours that Bolton’s Phil Gartside was going to wheel out his old two-tier Premier League plans in time for tomorrow’s meeting of fellow top-flight chairmen. For those unfamiliar with this idea it largely consists of creating a second Premier League of around 18-20 clubs with Celtic and Rangers added into the mix. We’d love to say it comes as a great surprise to read that Gartside should come up with such a rubbish idea – but it doesn’t. This is a man with history!

Every six months or so he comes out with this, the last time we heard from him was in April but as far back as October 2008 he was putting forward pretty similar plans too.

We’ve received tons of emails on this and every last one has been opposed to Gartside’s brainwave. Not one fan we’ve spoken to thinks it’s a good idea with many even saying they’d pack in top-level football if the plans come to fruition (see poll left and let us know your views).

Why should Football League clubs lose out just to accommodate Rangers and Celtic? However you do the sums some will have to drop out of the top two divisions and that’s before we even ask what happens if one of the Old Firm were to be relegated. Would they go down to the third tier or simply do a runner back to Scotland?

Our entire system is built on promotion and relegation, if they want to join there’s a handy guide to the Pyramid System here. It goes all the way down to Step 21, how about starting there? These plans are a step towards a league system based on turnover rather than what happens on grass.

Let’s not forget that FIFA would also have to sign off this new system. Many member countries would ask why should England and Scotland be allowed independent national teams if their top teams all compete in the same league? Goodbye Home Nations, hello Team GB. Is this really what we want?

Nevertheless this hasn’t stopped the likes of O’Neill, Redknapp and Moyes backing the idea. For what it’s worth we’d argue their opinion is nothing in the face of fans’ opposition – supporters MUST be consulted.

It’s not just fans who oppose this though – even Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore does!

“I don’t think it’s a serious proposition for a whole number of reasons,” he told ESPN a fortnight ago “Scottish football is Scottish football. For a traditionalist like me, that’s where the Old Firm should play,” added Scuds. It’s not that often we agree with you but well said – now we trust you’re going to stick to that line Richard!

Many in the football world will sniff a fast buck and jump aboard although we’d be very surprised if these two-tiered Premier League plans featuring the Glasgow giants do go ahead. After all, 14 of the 20 clubs need to back the idea and England’s current big guns will surely sense danger on the horizon if the Old Firm were allowed to find their feet. You can’t underestimate their potential.

We’ll respond to Gartside’s exact plans once they become apparent, although his and the Old Firm’s motivations are nicely summed up here, but the simple fact is the vast majority of football fans oppose his idea. Full stop.

But here at the FSF we have a few madcap ideas of our own – try this one for size.

How about every last one of the 92 clubs join, say, a four-tiered system. They all go up and down between the leagues. Let’s call them Divisions One, Two, Three and Four. The money is then shared in a fair and equitable manner allowing clubs of all sizes to compete and win trophies.

Now wouldn’t that be nice?

What do you think? Let us know your views via our poll (see left).


Related Articles

Magic of the cup: fans stung by Old Trafford pricing

Last year, the FA changed the competition rules in the FA Cup to allow host clubs to charge whatever they pleased in FA Cup ties – previously ticket pricing had to be agreed by both clubs.

Welcome to Samara: don’t forget Google translate!

England are on their way to Samara – you can find our guide to the sixth largest city in Russia in Free Lions 161 here and in our England Fans’ Guide to Russia. Here journalist Nizaar Kinsella, who’s been based their for the duration of the tournament, tells us about its charms…

We don’t like Mondays: lessons from Germany’s Monday protests

You may have seen England midfielder Jadon Sancho being pelted with tennis balls recently in the Bundesliga – the Dortmund man in the wrong place at the wrong time as the Nuremberg fans delivered their protest against Monday night football.

Don’t swallow the cap: Norwich City scheme under fire

You may have seen Norwich City in the media recently seeking out praise for lowering the price of matchday tickets at Carrow Road to £30, matching the price they’ll have to charge away fans in the Premier League.

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe