Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Celtic would be tops in Premier League: Mowbray

Celtic manager Tony Mowbray
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray

Celtic manager Tony Mowbray has expressed interest in seeing the Old Firm join the Premier League, but fails to see how an Atlantic league could work in practice.

Both issues have dominated the headlines recently, with Celtic and Rangers reiterating their desire to play in England's top flight or move south of the border as part of a restructured system.

Rangers have also welcomed the prospect of an Atlantic league, which has received the backing of Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Anderlecht, Brondby and AIK Stockholm following reports Dutch football association president Michael van Praag plans to lobby UEFA on the issue.

However, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell last week branded the concept “Frankenstein” and Mowbray admits he also has concerns.

“If there is a European league, what happens to the Europa League and what happens to the Champions League?” he said.

“Are they getting revamped? Are they disappearing? Are they running alongside it?

“Could you have a European league and be playing in the Europa League or the Champions League as well? Probably not.

“There is a lot of talking to be done and we will wait and see.

“Our football club should sit and listen to what the bureaucrats come up with, the people who are going to make these decisions, the people at UEFA and others who might be canvassing down south and abroad and see what develops.”

A switch to the English top flight is clearly a more attractive option for Mowbray, who believes Celtic would quickly be competing at the top end of the league.

He said: “I've just come from the English Premier League and it's a very tough league, it's a very high-quality league.

“Still, within that league there are different types of teams there, there are very attritional teams who base themselves upon not getting beaten.

“There are also teams who are very expansive with very technical players who can hurt the opposition at any given moment.

“Where would we fit in? I'd like to think, at this moment, we would fit in somewhere in the middle of it all, but you would hope that very, very quickly, because of the resources this club could generate, we would find ourselves competing at the top end of it, rather than the bottom end.

“If we were to put ourselves in the Premier League tomorrow, I think we would compete.

“With the resources and the matchday revenue and the worldwide revenue that this club could generate alongside the riches of the English Premier League and the money from the television, I would like to think we could have some of the world's best players because you would be competing in there with the best teams.”

Asked whether he was aware of any appetite to see Celtic and Rangers in England when he was manager of West Brom, Mowbray replied: “Everybody is very interested in the Old Firm.

“Everybody in football watches those games, so there is still a huge interest.

“I would imagine if you are a bottom of the Premier League team, you wouldn't be jumping out of your seat to bring us down.

“Someone would have to leave the marketplace and it's every club for themselves basically.

“Some would say there would be greater competition and greater revenue streams and bigger matchday events and some would say it would be a real threat to their existence.”

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