Barnsley owner takes random pop at Celtic and rivals' "anti-competitive duopoly"

By David Walton

September 28, 2021

Barnsley owner Paul Conway has taken a random dig at what he calls Celtic and Rangers’ “anti-competitive duopoly”, before claiming he could break the Glasgow club’s dominance if given the chance.

It’s been 36 years since a team outside of Celtic or our rivals managed to win the league. Aberdeen back in 1985 were the last club to do so. Since then, it’s been dominated by the Glasgow sides.

Conway is part of the Pacific Media Group, who also own clubs in France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Denmark respectively. Last year, they also attempted to purchase a Scottish club but failed under SFA guidelines on dual club ownership.

Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images

However, he’s taken what appears to be a random dig at Celtic and Rangers as he hit out at how Scottish football operates.

As quoted by the Daily Mail, Conway said: “If we had a Scottish club, we could challenge the duopoly of Celtic and Rangers, 100 percent. Look at our Belgian example. With the lowest budget in the league at Oostende, we finished fifth. We have a team now which is aged 24 to 27, we are competitive again this year – and why is that? It’s because our biggest cash flow source is player trading.

“Think about it and the biggest shopping market in the world is just a few miles south of the border. So if you have a bunch of young attacking players, you can buy a medium-sized club and, through the trading profits, you can be competitive.

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“The way it is set up now, you have the Old Firm who have control of the league and no strategic investment is going to come into these other clubs. Part of the problem is that the Old Firm, as I understand it, don’t want to encourage inward investment because they have an anti-competitive duopoly. You pick Hearts, Hibs or any other middle- sized clubs and they obviously can’t compete because of the difference in the matchday revenue. But that can be fixed immediately if they are generating £10m to £15m of transfer profit like Oostende.”

Scottish clubs want review into dual ownership rules

Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Dundee, and Dundee United have all banded together to launch a review into the SPFL. Dual ownership is one of the topics being reviewed.

It’s easy to point the finger of blame at Celtic and our rivals for the lack of competitiveness in Scottish football. But the truth is that the Hoops are quite right to look out for themselves first and foremost.

The likes of Hearts, Hibs, and Aberdeen can still flourish when it comes to player trading. However, they need to ensure that they aren’t accepting such meagre offers for their players in the first place. If these clubs are to become more competitive, they need to either hold on to their top players or look for a higher price bracket for many of them.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Celtic and Rangers attract the biggest sponsorship deals and investment because they’re the two most attractive brands for external investors. To get the likes of Hearts up to that level will take a long-term plan and strategy.

But it’s not as if the rules on dual ownership hold this prospect back. There are many other reasons for their failure to be title-contenders than that. None of which you can simply point the finger of blame at Celtic for.

It’ll be interesting to see if the rules on dual ownership are indeed relaxed. Maybe then we’ll be able to see Conway’s apparent sure-fire plan in action somewhere.

In other news, Jota provides promising update on dressing room reaction to Celtic form

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