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Celtic and Rangers will never join Premier League, says Scudamore

By Martyn Ziegler

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, does not believe Celtic and Rangers will ever be allowed to join the English top flight.

Suggestions the Old Firm clubs will attempt to leave the Scottish Premier League have surfaced again following Rangers going into administration.

One idea would be that Rangers could re-form as a new club and play in England but Scudamore insisted he could not see it happening – and the Old Firm in England's top flight would go against Premier League regulations.

Scudamore said: "Our rules are simple. It says we're a league formed for clubs that play in England and Wales. I don't see that ever changing. I don't see that changing on my watch, not that my watch may last for long. There's more in it for them than there is for us."

The Premier League clubs voted overwhelmingly against allowing the Old Firm clubs into a two-tier Premier League as part of a proposal put forward by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside in November 2009.

The main attraction for a move by Celtic and Rangers would be financial – even the bottom club in the Premier League earns several times more from television than the two Old Firm clubs.

Scudamore also revealed that the next deal for those television rights for the Premier League could be pan- European rather than domestic, which would deter users from buying the right to view matches from other European broadcasters. For 20 years, lucrative British deals with BSkyB's Sky Sports have helped the league become the most successful in world football and in 2009 the satellite broadcaster paid £1.6bn for the 2010-13 contract. ESPN can also screen around 23 league games – a package previously owned by Irish broadcaster Setanta.

The last UK rights deal involved six packages of 23 matches with no one broadcaster being able to bid for all of them. Sky has always been the most attractive partner for the Premier League, providing heaps of cash and award-winning coverage, but Scudamore hinted the next deal could bundle UK and continental European rights. Qatar-based Al Jazeera has been tipped as a potential new entrant into the market after it began broadcasting French football.

"Fundamentally our packages have to be issued on the open market. They have to be sold to the highest compliant bidder, and they have to be sold on a stand-alone basis," Scudamore said.

He also suggested that the comments made by Premier League chairman Dave Richards last week when he said Fifa and Uefa had "stolen the game" from England could have damaged the reputation of the league. "He's apologised sincerely, he's rung the people he may have offended and he's dealt with it," Scudamore said.

"Clearly that's a reflection that he knows what he said was wrong and misguided. It doesn't reflect the Premier League's views. He's away on foreign shores. It detracts from him, it detracts from the Premier League's image, I suppose."

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