Old Firm upbeat on European plan

 

Celtic and Rangers are upbeat about their chances of forming a new European League after meeting UEFA officials in Switzerland.

The UEFA officials, headed by president Lennart Johansson, have passed on the blueprint for the formation of a new league to their executive committee for discussion at the end of the week.

But the Old Firm and the other European clubs involved in the initiative believe that the meeting was a vital starting point for change in the game.

"All the clubs in the EuroLeague initiative are very pleased with the result of today's meeting," said initiative spokesman Michel van Schie.

"It is a starting point for further developments of the concept and it is quite important that UEFA recognise the problems the clubs are facing at the moment.

"These are serious problems for UEFA as well so, from this starting point, we hope that we can make the next step in the near future.

"We also hope that the UEFA executive committee recognise the problem and that we need a solution because, if nothing is done, the situation will get worse. We think it is time for action and we think that should be done within the next month."

But the clubs, including Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Brondby, Club Brugge, Anderlecht and FC Copenhagen, insist that change will not come overnight.

"I don't think we will get a decision in short notice but we hope that, in the spring, there will be more clarity about the direction we will have in the future," said van Schie.

Rangers director-secretary Campbell Ogilvie and Celtic chief executive Allan MacDonald were at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, ready to make their cases.

"A delegation of UEFA executive committee members, headed by the UEFA president Lennart Johansson, yesterday met representatives of 12 clubs and relevant national associations and leagues to hear their concerns and ideas for the future," a UEFA statement said. "The meeting was open and constructive and involved a useful exchange of views."

It is understood the UEFA hierarchy prefers an alternative format for change involving revamping the UEFA Cup to make it resemble the Champions League, in two years' time.