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Rangers and Celtic could be freed to leave Scottish Premiership in landmark court case

Rory O'Callaghan

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Rangers and Celtic could be freed to leave Scottish Premiership in landmark court case

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Celtic and Rangers could be free to leave the Scottish league system and compete in a trans-national competition if there is a landmark ruling in an upcoming court case in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg National Division side FC Swift Hesperange have filed a lawsuit against UEFA and the Luxembourg Football Federation, claiming that the governing bodies' opposition to cross-border leagues has hampered their ability to join a proposed Benelux League with teams from the Netherlands and Belgium.

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According to the Daily Mail, FC Swift have now filed a claim with the Tribunal D'Arrondisement in Luxembourg insisting that their prospects of growth are being restricted by "rules prohibiting clubs from creating and running transnational competitions".

If successful, it could open the door for Rangers and Celtic to leave the Scottish Premiership and take part in a more lucrative multi-national competition.

Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, who was involved in the famous 1995 Bosman ruling and more recently the failed European Super League project, will ask a Luxembourg judge to refer FC Swift's case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) this autumn.

FC Swift Hesperange are challenging UEFA's rules around multi-national competitions (Image: Alamy)
FC Swift Hesperange are challenging UEFA's rules around multi-national competitions (Image: Alamy)

"Swift and its sponsor, Leopard, are ambitious," Dupont told the Daily Mail.

"The club had already complained publicly in the past regarding some FLF and UEFA rules - in particular, the homegrown players rules, that disadvantage the clubs from small countries. But their voice was not heard. They decided to make it heard in court.

"Clubs will not "move". But clubs from small countries would be entitled to produce their domestic football in a larger territory, in order to match the production power of the big leagues."

Back in 2020, Celtic and Rangers were among a group of Scottish clubs that were informed of plans for a 20-team competition featuring other teams from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Republic of Ireland.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could allow Celtic and Rangers to leave the Scottish Premiership (Image: Alamy)
If the lawsuit is successful, it could allow Celtic and Rangers to leave the Scottish Premiership (Image: Alamy)

The plans, which were drawn up by Andrew Doyle - co-owner of League of Ireland side Shelbourne, had the backing of investment bank JP Morgan and projected annual broadcasting revenue of up to €400m (£338m).

But the plans were shelved after Celtic informed Doyle's SAL Sports Capital that they were no longer interested in the proposal.

However, Dupont is confident that cross-border leagues are coming "sooner rather than later" and believes a landmark ruling in the upcoming court case in Luxembourg could pave the way for the likes of Ajax, Anderlecht, Benfica, Celtic and Rangers to join transnational leagues with larger TV markets.

He said: "Celtic and Rangers are great clubs. But how much do they get for their media rights compared to the smallest Premier League club?

Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont (right) believes multi-national leagues are coming 'sooner rather than later' (Image: Alamy)
Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont (right) believes multi-national leagues are coming 'sooner rather than later' (Image: Alamy)

"And this is the lack of domestic incomes that determines negatively their competitiveness on the European stage."

Dupont, 53, was part of the legal team that secured the famous Bosman ruling in 1995, which allowed players to move to a new club at the end of their contract without their old club receiving a fee - a change which prompted a revolution in the transfer market.

When asked if a successful court challenge to UEFA's competition rules could have an ever bigger impact on football than the Bosman ruling, Dupont added: "Yes, because it affects the production market rather than 'only' the labour market."

Topics: Celtic, Rangers, Scottish Premiership, Football

Rory O'Callaghan
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