Celtic and Rangers, the two biggest clubs in Scottish soccer, have admitted to being in discussions to buy the television rights for the Scottish Premier League, available after the collapse of Setanta.
“Rangers and Celtic have had discussions with regard to buying out the SPL television rights,“ said a spokeswoman for Rangers. “Both clubs felt obliged to do this given the offer from Sky and ESPN is so low.“
The two clubs insist the deal would be of more benefit to the league’s 12 clubs than accepting the offer from Sky and ESPN - the only offer on the table - which amounts to only half of what Setanta had committed to pay.
David Murray, the club’s chairman, insisted: “What we are trying to do here is not simply about what is best for Rangers and Celtic - our proposals would help all of the clubs in the SPL. Myself and Martin Bain have held detailed discussions with Celtic’s chairman John Reid and chief executive Peter Lawwell and we are convinced that this is the best way forward. But it is not merely financial sense for Rangers and Celtic to go down this road - we are trying to protect the very future of Scottish football.“
Murray added: “The broadcasters are simply doing their jobs. They have seen an opportunity to buy our game on the cheap and they are trying to take it. But what people must understand is that, in the long run, the product is going to suffer. We’re talking about accepting around half of the money our clubs had been expecting to bring in from a TV deal. That will have an impact on every club in the division.“
Stewart Gilmour, chairman of St Mirren, said he would not rule out the offer. “I have an open mind on it but I would obviously like to see the terms and conditions of their proposal,“ he said. “That is the most important thing in any deal. I don’t mind who wins the bid as long as it gives us more money and no one in Scottish football can afford to say no to that. We have to have some competition so let’s see what happens.“