Competition structures · English football · European football · Football administration · Sociology & community

A British League

In reply to

I have been playing around with the idea of a joint league for Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish teams (a Celtic League), with national and regional league/non league of each federation feeding into it. I can forsee many difficulties but also many potential benefits.

I would imagine that, more for political reasons, a British League would be more achievable than a Celtic League.

With the current talk on fielding a Great Britain football team at the 2012 London Olympics, there is scope to develop the idea of Britain as one footballing nation.

To distinguish Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from England might be seen as resurrecting, perpetuating, reinforcing or inflaming the notion of a Celtic / Anglo-Saxon divide in Britain, which I imagine would be politically unacceptable (although it may garner support at the fringes).

You could have one (say a Premier League) or two (say a Premier League and a National League, with promotion and relegation between the two) divisions in a British League.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would continue to have their separate leagues, with the top two from each league playing in an 8-team play off. Clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against each other before the final. The two finalists would be play in the British League the following season, replacing the bottom two in the British League, who will return to the appropriate league.

It would provide an incentive for the Welsh clubs currently playing in the English leagues to play in the Welsh League, as there will be the prospect of a more direct route to the British League. In any event, winning the Welsh or Northern Ireland league will have the added bonus of playing against top English or Scottish clubs in the play-offs.

Although there is a risk that the British League, in particular, the British Premier League, would comprise entirely of English clubs, I wouldn’t be in favour of maintaining a quota for Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland clubs in the British League, as I am generally against quotas.

However, I would imagine that you’d have at least one or two Scottish clubs in the British Premier League, and if there is a second tier, other Scottish, Welsh and/or Northern Ireland clubs getting at least to the second tier.  It would make more sense than the repeatedly ridiculous re-structuring of the Scottish league to try to maintain both standards and interest.

A British League or leagues that that cover more than one major European football country can be part of a European pyramid.

The Republic of Ireland is a separate country, and could only be included in a broader transnational league, such as an Atlantic League (which potentially could include Scandinavian countries as well).


4 thoughts on “A British League

  1. In reply to

    Yes, that is broadly similar to the structure I had in mind for a Celtic League. One of the main reasons I don’t like the idea of the English League being part of the set up is that you sacrifice European places. At present England has the full possible amount of Champions League/Uefa Cup places. If you had Rangers/Celtic and whoever else eventually competing for them the overall representation of the British Isles would be down. And, quite frankly that would probably just mean no representation except the English clubs. With a Celtic League this would not happen, and even allow the current Welsh/Irish/N.Irish to get a stronger team in Europe over time.

    I also think that the English game (although not without it’s problems) would not be improved by becoming part of a British League. The travelling for the SE/SW English clubs to Scotland and vice versa would not be much fun either. I believe the Anglo Saxon/Celtic divide could potentially be worse if they all played together in one League, but there’s no way to know for sure.

    I like the idea of, if a Celtic League was formed to have perhaps mini pre-season tournements between say the Cup winners/League Winners in England and the Celtic nations.

    I think you’ll find that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland clubs will develop and improve much faster and to a much higher level in a British League (which includes English clubs) as opposed to a “Celtic League” (which excludes English clubs).

    As for European exposure, if the British League is part of the development of a European League or other transnational European leagues, you’ll find all progressive clubs having the potential for greater exposure to European football, regardless of whether they are English, Scottish, Welsh or from Northern Ireland.

    The bigger question may well be what is in it for the English clubs? Amongst other things, the British League may well become an intermediate level or stage between the English Premier League and a European League or other transnational European leagues, which English clubs may well come to dominate.

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