DERMOT DESMOND has vetoed any chance of Celtic taking part in an ambitious breakaway league involving five of Scotland’s top teams.
The champions’ major shareholder pulled the Parkhead team out of contention for a projected Atlantic League which early proposals would have seen participation from Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts.
The original plan for a breakaway league, with teams from Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia also mentioned, first came to light almost five years ago. It resurfaced this year with Irish sports investor Andrew Doyle keen to involve the best Scotland has to offer in an ambitious new project.
Initial talks were positive over a breakaway 20-team league that would include the five biggest Scottish clubs, alongside five from Sweden, five from Denmark, four from Norway and one from Ireland.
According to The Times, however, plans have now been set aside with the news Celtic would not be involved.
GLORY BHOYS…Scott Brown and Jeremie Frimpong, Ryan Christie, Kristoffer Ajer and Callum McGregor celebrate last season’s Betfred League Cup Final success over Rangers at Hampden.
Desmond is reported to see maintaining the status quo as the way forward, though is also keen to discuss the idea of a potential collaborative British League.
Doyle, in an email earlier this month, said: “We received a call a few weeks ago from the principal shareholder of Celtic to say that he and Celtic were not interested in pursuing the project any further, preferring the status quo or the concept of a British Isles league.
“This was both a surprise and a disappointment to us given our lengthy engagement with the clubs and our success in receiving proposals for underwriting the league worth well over one billion euros.
“However, of course, we must respect their decision.
“We remain of the view that the interests of all stakeholders in small and mid-sized European countries are best served by consolidating their markets and that resolving the competitive balance issue can only be achieved in this way.
“We know this is UEFA’s greatest concern and were very encouraged by our stakeholder engagements to date.
“However, having consulted with various clubs on this we have come to the decision, in light of feedback, that when we combine this news with the issues caused by Covid and by the proposed ‘Super League’ and related developments, we are best to press pause on this project until the landscape has changed.
“This may not happen in the short term. We will take time to consider alternative models and may engage with some of you over time on them.”