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Football: Scots are waiting to talk on TV.

Byline: TIM GORDON

THE Scottish Premier League will delay talk about a new television deal until the top flight teams have had time to calm down after recent heated debate.

The Old Firm and the other 10 SPL clubs are due to return to the negotiating table within days to attempt to resolve the crisis facing Scottish football.

The Nationwide League have met with Rangers chairman David Murray and Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond over a possible move south.

But the rest of the SPL clubs have been angered by the constant speculation which they believe is wrecking any chance of gaining the financial security of a television deal for their own futures.

BBC Scotland have the only bid on the table as the Old Firm consider their options elsewhere, leaving question marks over their involvement in Scottish football.

However, SPL chairman Lex Gold believes there is no point attempting to secure a new television deal while big question marks exist over the future participation of Celtic and Rangers in Scottish football.

"The SPL board have agreed that work on securing media deals would be suspended, pending the outcome of the 'clear-the-air' meeting that I have arranged over the next few days between representatives of all 12 clubs," said Gold.

With the difficulties currently being faced by Nationwide clubs as a result of the collapse of ITV Digital, the prospect of the Old Firm joining the Football League - and the additional revenue - could prove appealing.

Celtic and Rangers vetoed proposals for SPL TV amid speculation over their future in Scotland.

Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven have also maintained the proposal for an Atlantic League which could include clubs from Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Scandinavia and Scotland was still alive.

However, Gold and SPL chief executive Roger Mitchell have made some progress in bringing the clubs back to the negotiating table.

But the prospect of top UEFA delegates being in Glasgow for the Champions League final between Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid is set to provide the Old Firm with a chance to state their case to the European governing body.

Meanwhile, Celtic defender Johan Mjallby admits familiarity is breeding contempt as the Old Firm attempt to move to the Nationwide League.

The Swedish international believes the current format in the Scottish Premier League, where teams play each other four times a season depending on positions after the split, has become jaded.

"The clubs are well aware that they have to do something," said Mjallby.

"There's a lot of money in the game and that's what primarily controls football.

"I don't know what the feelings are among other players but, for me, it sounds interesting.

"In Scotland you meet the same teams year after year. This would be a bigger challenge."

CAPTION(S):

GLAS-GOW: Old Firm SPL future in the balance; PLAN: Desmond
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 15, 2002
Words:470
Previous Article:NOW SCHU BEATS TIGER.
Next Article:Football: TOM'S KICK-START.


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