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Scottish FA chief backs cross-border competition

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has backed the concept of a cross-border league with English clubs.

Regan is eyeing the idea of a competition involving teams from both England and Scotland, and possibly other northern European leagues, insisting it would add to the excitement of the Champions League.

He suggests that, with some clubs knocked out of Europe before Christmas, another tournament could fill the calendar and potentially provide a route back into continental competition – adding that Scottish clubs cannot compete in the Champions League’s current set-up.

“There is a recognition that we have to change,” Regan told The Guardian. “There is a saying: ‘If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.’

“We are in danger at the moment of keeping perpetuating the Champions League brand as the answer to everything. It has been a fantastic journey and a fantastic success, but there are signs now emerging that it is peaking.

“In any other brand, at the point of large peaks you do something else. I think people will get bored with Champions League predictability, particularly in markets where your own country isn’t represented for long spells in the season.

“How do we keep the dream alive in Europe? For me, that is cross-border. It is giving clubs the chance to play against other big teams for a big prize. That prize might be entry back into the Champions League.

“Not every year, and with the recent exception of Celtic and Rangers, [but] most of our teams historically have been out [of Europe] by Christmas, therefore European dates are free during the second half of the season.

“If you look at the TV audiences at the moment in the markets where teams are out, the Champions League audiences are in decline. The English Premier League, in countries around Europe, is starting to gain more traction than UEFA’s own competitions.

“What we are saying is: ‘How do we address that?’ because if we do nothing, the big countries will get bigger and bigger, while the small countries will never be able to compete in Europe.”

In September, the English Football League announced that, as part of its reform, it has no plans to involve non-English clubs.

Thu 27 Oct, 2016
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