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Exclusive: Atlantic League plans back on the table


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THE Old Firm's dream of escaping the SPL moved a massive step closer last night when one of the most influential men in European football threw his weight behind a new North Atlantic Super League.

The president of the Dutch FA, Michael van Praag - a leading member of UEFA's all powerful executive committee - has spoken out in favour of a radical overhaul of the European game that would see Rangers and Celtic invited to join clubs from Holland, Belgium, Portugal and Scandinavia in a new cross border competition.

AndVan Praag has vowed to get the ball rolling on the revolution by holding showdown talks with UEFA chief Michel Platini and urging him to give the new set-up his blessing. News of Van Praag's intervention has excited both Glasgow clubs who now hope to become involved in serious top level discussions about the possible format for a new competition.

And last night Rangers chief executive Martin Bain told Record Sport: "I find what Michael van Praag has to say of great interest. I mentioned last week it was time for a wind of change in the European game and that there are many other like-minded clubs.

"UEFA themselves realise something has to be done to help the growth of clubs from smaller nations and, in turn, to protect the competitive nature of the Champions League.

"To hear someone of the stature of the president of the Dutch FAsaying the time is right to begin serious discussions merely confirms what we ourselves believe. We welcome it and would hope these talks begin soon."

Record Sport understands Rangers have been active for some months in drumming up support behind the scenes for a proposed re-incarnation of the old North Atlantic League - a model first proposed at the end of the 1990s but eventually crushed by UEFA.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has been monitoring the situation closely and, like Bain, insisted just last week a radical overhaul of the European game is on the way.

Now Van Praag is attempting to drive the process forward.

The former Ajax chairman - whowas elected on to UEFA's most powerful committee in June - insists attitudes in the corridors of power have changed enormously since the initial Dutch-led proposal for a cross border set-up was booted out almost seven years ago.

That plan - which also involved the likes of Feyenoord, Rangers, Celtic,Porto, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Anderlecht, Brugge, AIK Stockholm, IFK Gothenburg, Brondby and FC Copenhagen - was put forward by the then PSV Eindhoven chairman Harry van Raay.

And Van Praag now believes Van Raay's vision might yet be implemented - in time to save some of the biggest club sides in Europe disappearing off the radar completely as the mega-rich from England, Spain, Italy and Germany continue to dominate the game.

Van Praag said: "It was not the right time all those years ago. Of course, somethinghad to happen in that direction but UEFAwere not behind it. There was no waywecould push that through because UEFA at that time were conservative and full of fear.

"Now I am part of UEFA myself and, for this course, I can begin the lobby.

"It makes sense to start the lobbying now."

great news we need to leave the spl if we want to have great players again :praise:

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Anything's better than the SPL. It couldn't be a closed shop though. You would need promotion and relegation from it i.e. if the Tims got relegated they would be back in the SPL and an Aberdeen or Hearts would join the Atlantic League

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At the risk of keep repeating myself I think we should play in Scotland, and in UEFA's competitions, but organise something along the lines of The Royal League with the clubs in the same position as us...the likes of Ajax, Porto, PSV, Anderlecht, Benfica etc.

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They can stick their Atlantic League up their arse!

I'd rather play in the SPL, than watch us play the likes of Brugge, AIK Stockholm, IFK Gothenburg, Brondby, FC Copenhagen....

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They can stick their Atlantic League up their arse!

I'd rather play in the SPL, than watch us play the likes of Brugge, AIK Stockholm, IFK Gothenburg, Brondby, FC Copenhagen....

Well I'd rather watch all those teams before the likes of Kilmarnock, St. Mirren, Falkirk and so on. Then there's Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord, Porto, Benfica, Sporting, Anderlecht and Standard Liege.

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They can stick their Atlantic League up their arse!

I'd rather play in the SPL, than watch us play the likes of Brugge, AIK Stockholm, IFK Gothenburg, Brondby, FC Copenhagen....

Well I'd rather watch all those teams before the likes of Kilmarnock, St. Mirren, Falkirk and so on. Then there's Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord, Porto, Benfica, Sporting, Anderlecht and Standard Liege.

What about the away fans, the cost to travel abroad every second week would be too expensive for a lot of people.

Brugge, AIK, IFK....are no better than some of the SPL sides.

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They can stick their Atlantic League up their arse!

I'd rather play in the SPL, than watch us play the likes of Brugge, AIK Stockholm, IFK Gothenburg, Brondby, FC Copenhagen....

Well I'd rather watch all those teams before the likes of Kilmarnock, St. Mirren, Falkirk and so on. Then there's Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord, Porto, Benfica, Sporting, Anderlecht and Standard Liege.

What about the away fans, the cost to travel abroad every second week would be too expensive for a lot of people.

Brugge, AIK, IFK....are no better than some of the SPL sides.

It wouldn't be every second week as I think we should still play in Scotland but reduce the games, (also would not play League Cup), a new competition making up the difference.

You keep mentioning those sides while ignoring the more glamorous clubs who we would want to be playing with. Saying that...Club Brugge are better than most SPL clubs even if they are the third biggest in Belgium.

Also...I think with my idea would have the added attraction of improving the appeal of the SPL. The games against the likes of Hearts, Hib, Aberdeen would be much more special than they are now with playing them four times a year. Maybe we could get back to the days when those team's stadiums would be full for a much anticipated visit of The Rangers.

The big problem of course is the loss of income to the Scottish game, although I don't think halving games would equal half income. While UEFA could have little complaint on their own, as we could honour their competitions, the SFA would no doubt oppose it.

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not sure about the atlantic league, but anything is better than staying in the spl, we are just getting dragged down staying. I would rather start in the english 2nd division than stay in the spl now.

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