SPFL chief Neil Doncaster doesn't sound opposed to Celtic and Scottish football European merger

By Euan Davidson

April 9, 2021

SPFL chief Neil Doncaster seems to have warmed to the idea of Celtic and other Scottish clubs competing in an Atlantic League.

Proposals for clubs like Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen to join leagues abroad have been put forward more often in recent memory. FIFA had put cold water on the project back in January. However, ideas like joining France’s Ligue 1, or something akin to Holland and Belgium’s model, are growing in popularity.

Doncaster wasn’t ruling anything out on The Price of Football podcast. Speaking to Kieran Maguire and Kevin Day, the SPFL chief seemed relatively open to discussions.

Doncaster said [The Price of Football]:

“Everyone recognises, and UEFA recognises, that polarisation of money in football is a bad thing. The difficulty is what you do about it.

“Whereas the idea of merged leagues may have been anathema in the past, I think increasingly it is gaining traction as a concept that may be part of the solution.

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“Scotland’s difficulty is a geographic one. Our nearest neighbours are the English Premier League who, financially, are light years ahead of us.

“The challenge is how you work more closely with leagues around you that are so different in financial scale but that’s a challenge that a number of us in Scottish football are working on.”

Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive / (Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images)

Celtic surely key in any discussions as SPFL consider options

Let’s be clear; nothing will happen any time soon. You can bank on that.

However, it’s obvious that the SPFL are considering their options. The Holland-Belgium league merger (of sorts) will have surprised a number of leagues around Europe.

Celtic and, inevitably, Rangers, will be the cornerstones of any deal. The challenge is preserving the reputation and financial stability of the Scottish top-flight without the Glasgow Derby. As annoying as it’ll read for fans of other clubs, our impact on revenues in Scottish football goes without saying.

How Scottish football would survive at the same level without Celtic would be an interesting discussion to have. There are plenty of us, though, that love being part of the tapestry of this nation’s game. The oddball, unpredictable nature of the sport in Scotland is a massive part of its appeal.

Would that be quite the same in a Continental league? Consider also the massive expensive of flying abroad for matches every other week. It’d be fun initially, but long-term, it’s not something the majority of supporters could afford.

There does need to be something to close the gap between ourselves and the behemoths of the game in Europe. After Financial Fair Play was all but scrapped, it’s hard to see how clubs of our size bridge that chasm without tighter regulation on spending.

The next decade could be seismic in terms of where Celtic play and who we play against.

READ MORE: Celtic youngster’s development should provide encouragement for supporters.