Irish club chairman claims Celtic hold key to Atlantic League

By David Walton

April 20, 2021

Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle has claimed that the Atlantic League proposals he drew up last year can’t go through without Celtic taking part.

Doyle drew up plans to have teams from Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Ireland competing in a 20-club league. The idea was said to have the backing of JP Morgan, with a projected broadcasting revenue of up to €400million (£345m) [Daily Mail].

The idea would’ve given clubs such as Kilmarnock and Motherwell the opportunity to earn promotion, with relegation also involved. Entry into official UEFA tournaments was another carrot, before Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond informed Doyle that he wasn’t interested [Daily Mail].

And now, the investment tycoon has claimed that the proposals can’t go ahead whatsoever if Celtic aren’t involved. Speaking on BBC Sportsound last night, Doyle said the following:

“It’s on pause or dead”

“The position on it is that Celtic have decided not to participate in the proposal. As a consequence, Celtic being a significant brand, it’s on pause or dead. Because of Dermot Desmond or Celtic’s opinion of it.

“I think it’s obvious that bigger clubs should play at an appropriate level of competition and what we were trying to do with that proposal was simply trying to create another layer in the pyramid. So, Scottish football, and Irish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish football, would benefit because they would be playing at a higher level of competition. But nevertheless remaining in their own countries.

“The players would play for their own clubs at a higher level of competition with completely open access from the SPFL to this league. So, explicitly, the SPFL becomes more competitive because it’s no longer a league that only two clubs can win. It was all about helping Scottish football and Irish football and so forth. But without a brand like Celtic, we can’t really progress that proposition.”

Celtic appear to have their sights set higher than an Atlantic League

First off, you have to admire the creativity of the idea. Playing the likes of Rosenborg, AIK, and Copenhagen would certainly have made a nice difference from the status quo. All the while you would’ve had the usual big fixtures from Scotland thrown into the mix.

But you just wonder whether the novelty of that plan would’ve worn off very quickly. Yes, it would’ve been nice to face off against some other sides for a change, but facing sides from Scandinavia isn’t the level Celtic will see themselves operating at in the long-term.

The Times reported back in November that Celtic are instead chasing a potential British League if they’re to leave Scottish football. That would see them come up against the likes of Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool etc. They’re automatically a lot more attractive fixtures than potential games against Rosenborg and Copenhagen.

Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond doesn’t appear interested in an Atlantic League / (Photo by Sammy Turner/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Of course, there are question marks to be asked about where that leaves other Scottish clubs should we ever leave. Now certainly wouldn’t be the time to press ahead given the financial effect the Covid crisis has had on football. But in the long-term, a modernisation of British football would hardly surprise you.

You can’t see Celtic going back on their wishes of course. If an Atlantic League needs to have the carrot of Celtic involved, then you can forget it. This doesn’t seem to be something Desmond is interested in.

Goodness knows where we’ll end up in the long-term. But it almost certainly want be in Andrew Doyle’s set-up.

In other news, a Celtic loanee has been given a big honour for his impressive season away from Parkhead.