British Premier League? Cardiff & Swansea now, Old Firm next?

In my young living memory <20 years, neither Cardiff or Swansea have featured in the top tier of the English Football divisions, though both of which are proudly Welsh, fly ‘The Red Dragon’ and compete in a fiercely contested Welsh Derby fixture. Despite their unique patriotism they remain largely governed by the English FA, operating in the English Football league, slugging away in the lower divisions and fighting to be promoted.

However, the play-off fixtures this season represent a real chance for an all Welsh final, and therefore, a 50% chance we’ll have a Welsh team in the Barclays Premier League. Something which has had the English, and the Old Firm as interested spectators.

My thought of a British Premier League has been mulling around my mind since I was a season ticket holder, in The Broomloan Stand of Ibrox, home of Glasgow Rangers FC. Seeing themselves and rivals Celtic dominate the Scottish Football scene for the last 25 years has deterred fans of the other clubs from attending games, and despite the ever-likely sell-out at Old Firm matches, weekly attendances to the so-called ‘lesser games’ have suffered for the Glasgow giants, too.

So what is the logistics of having a unified British Premier League? With the realistic possibility that it will no longer an all-English affair, I believe it’s time the matter is properly addressed. Though the English PL teams have rejected the above notion, emphatically. Most recently in 2009.

Now, first things first, on a political level, the ever pushing strive for devolution by the Scottish National Party is likely to hinder the prospects of such, and the ability of the nations to retain an individual status when competing the eyes of FIFA/UEFA will remain the key talking points in getting this to work. The Barmy/Tartan Army’s and the Welsh equivalent will always want to have their voice. But other aspects can be beneficial to collect the full debate.  

Many deterrents to the inclusion of the Old Firm come back to the logistics of supporters travelling to and from matches, and how expensive it could work out to the average ‘working class man’. Whilst I agree, I must highlight the fixtures of Newcastle/’Boro/Sunderland vs Portsmouth/Southampton et al. And the lengthy trips they pose, and the attendances don’t seem to have any irregular effect. Not to mention the UK as a nation isn’t a sizeable as Spain/France/Italy etc, and teams like Santander/Sevilla, Bordeaux/Toulouse, Palermo/Juventus still seem to take a fair support. So in other countries it seems to be a relative success.

Secondly, to this point, how would the clubs be filtered in? Who would determine the abilities of certain clubs to compete at a certain level? The power to place the clubs into the certain leagues would need to lie with the already existing English Clubs, and I do not think any club would have the right to enter straight into the Premier League, perhaps, Old Firm – Championship, Hearts/Hibs/Motherwell/Aberdeen – League 1, the rest League 2, have Scottish 1st Division teams in the Conference and then have a detached Conference Scotland which would engage in play-off’s with the conference north/south England which would host the remaining Scottish division 2/3 sides. Given 3/4 years the teams would naturally find their ‘place’.

I think the stature of the clubs are not in question, Rangers being won of the most decorated clubs in World football, and Celtic winning a European Cup that even the likes of Arsenal & Chelsea cannot boast, their Stadiums feature in 6th & 10th on the List of British Stadia by capacity and season ticket sales are always huge, year on year. Twitter-er Rio Ferdinand ‘rioferdy5‘ also stated that Old Firm clubs have the best atmosphere (see 3 up from bottom). What they as a pair can bring to the Premier League is a proper derby with fan bases to match the top 4. As well as such, both members of the Old Firm have recently featured on the Deloitte football rich list, though not since 2008, another feature of the decline of Scottish football. It must be opinionated that if they featured in the EPL, or BPL, along with their fanbases and large stadia, their ability to generate sponsorship money, they could be able to compete on the highest level, given time.

The main factor I see, which preserves the SPL in a negative light, and the one factor which does not apply to the Welsh pair, is the massive sectarian problem, highlighted recently with the fiasco surrounding Neil Lennon, and the recent Euro supporters bans imposed on Rangers FC.  Until the Government interfere, and work with the SFA and both clubs to rid the problem completely, a unified, well, Scottish included, league is possible. Which is another blog entry, but quickly, I’d give both clubs point deductions as punishments, that would quickly stop it, and play Old Firm games behind closed doors for a season.

Until then, the possibility of a British League Cup remains the safest option, that would act as a catalyst to kick some life into the competition and give it some credentials, as well as a good trial basis to see if the a British Football League could operate. Although, once again, I believe the SFA made the proposal and it wasn’t viewed with much excitement

 Thoughts?

 for daily opinions.

Over and out.

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About the12thman

A twenty-something football fan with two business management degrees. I run @_the12thman because my friends told me I talk about football too much on my personal twitter/facebook. Turned out quite well, 2 years on. View all posts by the12thman

9 responses to “British Premier League? Cardiff & Swansea now, Old Firm next?

  • Paul Forbes

    I think if you go back to the early 80s then Swansea at one point were on top of the 1st division maybe only for a week

    • markbritton7

      Interesting! I didn’t see that far back in my reading, but I did say in “living memory”!

      Good to see them win last night, I was sceptical at first but they looked good. Rode their luck at times but I think ultimately they just about deserve their place. Would like to see Reading win tonight though. Thanks mate!

  • Swansea Fan

    “In my living memory, neither Cardiff or Swansea have featured in the top tier of the English Football divisions”…

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/article783946.ece

    Want to revisit that statement? Or is your blog aimed people younger than 30?

    • markbritton7

      Brilliant feedback! To be honest, I’m 20 years old myself! Just getting my feet in the blogging scene, but I’ve never known them in the top flight, however, I shall edit and give a more accurate account of Swansea City FC so not to mis-represent in all the points you’ve made!

      Best of luck for the play off finals!

    • markbritton7

      Swansea Fan – My next piece will be about this summers transfer window, and recommendations to who the 20 PL clubs should sign, now, I’m not so clued up on Swansea so will be requiring some fans help! Now, shout out/author’s note will be done, but just after which 3 positions you think Swansea most need to fill in order to be competitive!

      Can you help?

  • Swansea Fan

    OK – some useful comments from me this time 🙂

    I can’t see the Old Firm being accepted into the Premier League or Football League for the foreseeable future. The inclusion of Swansea and Cardiff (and the other exiles: Wrexham, Newport, Colwyn Bay & Merthyr) in the English system is purely based on legacy. All entered the English system either at the inception of a new division back in the 1920-30s (Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham) or started at the bottom (just above County League level) – just as the new Merthyr FC have had to do following liquidation last year.

    Starting at the bottom is not realistic for Celtic and Rangers – and I can’t see enough member clubs willing to vote for the inclusion of these teams in the Premier of Football Leagues. In all honesty – these teams are treated as the ginger-haired step-children within the English systems – nobody wants them there and hate the idea of them playing amongst the elite (remember the furore when Cardiff reached the FA cup final a few years ago and the FA battled to keep them out of Europe?)

    Another issue is the FIFA pressure – regardless on what Blatter says, there is immense pressure within FIFA to consolidate the home-nations under 1 team. Why? Voting rights and the International FA Board. Anything that would further compromise this position (British Olympic Team, inclusion of new non-English teams within the higher echelons of the English Pyramid, etc) would generate further weight behind those members of Fifa who have real issues with this (read CAF and the AFC).

    The governance move link (FAW to FA) from the above comment is a further subtle move towards removing this risk by effectively confirming the ‘Welsh’ clubs as officially English! There has been a long list of changes that have slowly taken these teams down this path over the last few decades – purely to counter the arguments from FIFA.

    I can’t see Rangers or Celtic moving for these reasons – the only people who seem to want it as the 2 clubs themselves. Surely better if they engaged with the SFA to make a more competitive Scottish setup?…. but that would involve losing some revenue.

    It’s all about money, eh?

  • Hudson

    I am not sure why Celtic and Rangers would be so in favour of this move. They are currently guaranteed high positions in the league, good runs in the cups and European football. Why would they give that up for the possibility of relegation and falling down the English league system to have years in the doldrums and financial difficulties (even worse than they have already)? The size of their stadia doesn’t guarantee they will stay in the top flight, although it does give them a better chance of getting back there. you just have to look at the struggles of Man City, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday etc to see that joining the English league may not necessarily be the best for them. The only scenario I could see working is if they took the lead of Rugby League and guaranteed no relegation for at least the first year and why would the English clubs vote for that?

  • shaun the brummie

    so our next problem is get the sheep shaggers out….they’ve got their own assembly,hate the english,and anything that helps ruin labour is right by the english.

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