I’ve never known so many people to be keen to get to a game involving Motherwell as there are for tomorrow’s encounter at Celtic Park. Most of us haven’t been to a game since the marginally entertaining 3-3 Champions League draw last month.
Motherwell head a pack of six clubs all within three points of each other, with bottom of the table Partick Thistle just one point further behind at the bottom of the table. They are still in touch with fifth-placed Newco Rangers, who the Lanarkshire club could overhaul if results go their way this weekend, but the table is starting to look like a top five and bottom seven fight.
Each of the top four clubs, Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and St Johnstone, are at home against opposition no higher than 6th place Motherwell, so there’s every chance the leading group will extend their advantage.
You and I have been speaking about a European League since 2004. During that time the remoteness of the possibility has come and gone but it’s back on the agenda, with Copenhagen director, Anders Horsholt talking about the proposed league between Danish, Dutch, Scottish, Belgian, Swedish and Norwegian clubs.
This proposal would be enormously beneficial for all involved, the only thing that’s needed is sufficient will on the part of clubs to make it happen, but even within this group of potential beneficiaries there are sub-interests which could pull focus in different directions.
Celtic’s interests would be best served with access to a European-wide league, replacing domestic weekend leagues. They would be able to compete and grow into one of the world’s biggest clubs in this scenario. The same would be true of the bigger Dutch clubs, less so for the Danish, and even the Belgians.
What we now have for the first time is a consensus that some change needs to happen among the disenfranchised. I’d bite your hand off for a scenario along the lines of what Horsholt discussed, but you have to consider this possibility in context of what’s happening at the moment with the financially elite European clubs.
They too want change. A meritocratic-ally-earned Europe-wide structure replacing domestic leagues falls short of their mooted closed-franchise system, but not by much. And it’s a lot more deliverable.
This is all horse-trading for now, but there’s a lot of money sitting on the table, so change is inevitable.