Old Firm's introduction to the Premier League would be both farcical and catastrophic

Neil Trainis SIMON JORDAN is a man who attracts his fair share of dissenters like flies to dung and there was more of the contentious in his assessment of the prospect of Rangers and Celtic joining English football. I d suggest (they should pay) �100million and the i

Neil Trainis

SIMON JORDAN is a man who attracts his fair share of dissenters like flies to dung and there was more of the contentious in his assessment of the prospect of Rangers and Celtic joining English football.

"I'd suggest (they should pay) �100million and the immediate financial benefits that arise for both clubs would soon cover it. Their share price would go through the ceiling on the back of massive revenue increases," the Crystal Palace chairman said this week by means of riposte to the suggestion that the Old Firm should grace the game down south the way Cardiff City, Wrexham and Swansea have for the best part of the last century.

Jordan has, in the eyes of many, articulated debatable notions over the years but to others he has come to represent a dying breed of hard-working, home-grown businessmen whose fortune has been garnered from nothing as they struggle to survive in an industry populated by overseas billionaires.

One of his qualities has been to tell it how it is, to get whatever is gnawing away at him off his chest, and that is a trait that should be cherished in an age when it appears risky to say anything remotely thought-provoking in light of various committees and sub-committees that punctuate the game.

Jordan's thoughts on the Old Firm had some resonance. "The SPL does not attract a worldwide audience, the Premier League does. It would be a great thing for Celtic and Rangers but the Old Firm would not add enormously to the levels of interest in a league that's already massively exposed," he added with the crispness of a hardened realist.

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Indeed, he has a point. Interest in the Premier League has grown enormously and is currently flowing over the edge, not just among football supporters in different continents but among television companies frantically fencing for rights to show their matches.

Jordan's questioning of whether the two biggest clubs in Scotland would intensify interest markedly in the Premier League, generally accepted now as the most exhilarating league in the world, is valid.

After all, the Scottish Premier League is not renowned for the quality of its football and in comparison to its more prominent European counterparts in England, Spain, Italy and Germany, is regarded as substandard in relation to technique and skill levels.

Jordan's scepticism about the viability of Rangers and Celtic in a competition such as the Premier League, where psychological ingenuity is as important as physical toughness, is natural.

Playing in a league which has remained two-sided since Aberdeen won the title in 1984/85 will have done the attempts of Rangers and Celtic to acclimatise to the rigours of English football no favours. They have not been unduly stretched in almost 25 years, other than by one another.

An elevated level of competitiveness may provided a rude awakening for clubs designed to dominate and little else. They have large followings and their introduction into the English game's elite would bolster viewing figures but, as Jordan alluded to, their presence would hardly swell the glamour aspect of the Premier League.

At best it would add only intrigue of how they would cope with their new surroundings and, if they are to arrive, they may find themselves starting out in the Championship to placate the 20 Premier League clubs reluctant to share their television money bounty with two extra newcomers.

Perhaps that was on Jordan's mind when he suggested the Scottish giants shell out monumental sums to partake in the Premier League. Palace are some way off a return to the top flight and he has entertained thoughts about walking away from the sport for good, yet the temptation to stay on and lead the south London club to promotion may still be too much to resist.

There are also traditionalists who are not enamoured by the presence of Welsh clubs in English football's league system and whose chagrin would increase at the integration of a pair of Scottish clubs.

There is an argument that screams the erosion of national football borders would open the floodgates to other clubs wanting to join more prosperous leagues in other countries.

Steaua Bucharest may decide Germany's Bundesliga is more appropriate for a club of their means and history and Anderlecht could, given the chance, opt for France's Ligue 1.

Jordan's opinions bore sense and he did not dismiss the idea of Rangers and Celtic joining the Premier League but, considering a context beyond the financial, such a manoeuvre would surely set an unwanted precedent.