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It's Over - For Now That is!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 15/05/2002

THE Football Association have finally put paid to the proposal that Rangers and Celtic would be invited to join the Nationwide League, saying it would not sanction such a move for next season or any other season.

This decision finally ends the speculation and ends the two "Old Firms" attempt to join the English Premier League through the back door.

Some first division clubs were in favour of the move as they saw it as a way to get a better deal with the TV companies with two of Europe's biggest clubs as a major attraction. But their hopes too are dashed by the FA decision.

The FA statement says: "The FA today made it clear that it would not sanction either Celtic or Rangers joining the Nationwide Football League. This was discussed at a recent board meeting. The FA have reconfirmed that such a move would be contrary to its policy and against the spirit of fair competition."

The Football League spokesman said: "There's a world of difference between wanting it to happen and actually implementing it. There are huge regulatory hurdles in the way of such a move and it would be virtually impossible to make this happen."

But that is not quite the end. If the First Division were to break away from the Nationwide, in the same way the premier League did and form the Phoenix or some other league, it could open the doors for the Scottish teams to play in England, and that idea has not yet been ruled out. Not by a long way!

The Atlantic League idea is also still on the board and would involve clubs from the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Scandinavia and Scotland. Even though Uefa is opposed to the idea, it will have little effect if the clubs really want to proceed with the plan.

For the moment, the first division is unchanged but there is no guarantee that it will remain so. The immediate future will rely very heavily on the sale of TV rights and the outcome of the damages claim against Carlton and Granada that was lodged in the High Court yesterday.

So, is it all over? It is for now, but keep watching!!

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