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Scottish Premier League is a joke
Monday, April 23, 2007 | 12:11 PM ET
Shunsuke Nakamura's injury-time goal lifted Celtic to a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock on Sunday, thus securing the Hoops' second straight Scottish league title and fifth in seven years.
You'll excuse me if the thought of Celtic winning another league title doesn't set my pulse racing. If anything, it bores me to tears.
Sunday's win marked the 22nd consecutive season that either Celtic or Rangers, two Glasgow clubs who comprise Scottish soccer's Old Firm, have won the league title.
Not since the 1984-85 campaign when Alex Ferguson, long before he became "Sir," led Aberdeen to the title has Scottish soccer's top prize left the city of Glasgow.
Think about that for a minute.
Ronald Reagan was U.S. President, the Berlin Wall was still standing, no night games were played at Wrigley Field and Mario Lemieux was a rookie when a team other than Celtic or Rangers last won the title.
Eleven different teams have won the Stanley Cup in that same amount of time.
What's more, Celtic and Rangers finished 1-2 in the final standings 11 times during that stretch (this season isn't over yet, but chances are Rangers will finish second), a clear indication that parity and competitiveness simply don't exist in the Scottish Premier League.
And this isn't a recent trend: between them, Celtic and Rangers have won a staggering 63 Scottish Cups and 93 Scottish league titles dating back to the 1890s.
This problem, of course, is not unique to Scottish soccer.
A small handful of rich and powerful teams have monopolized the league title in Italy (Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan), England (Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal), Spain (Barcelona and Real Madrid), France (Lyon, Monaco and Marseille), Germany (Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund), Portugal (Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto) and the Netherlands (Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord).
But at least in those countries other teams have snuck in to win the title during the past 22 years, most notably Napoli and Sampdoria in Italy, Deportivo la Coruna in Spain, Blackburn in England, Nantes in France, and Boavista in Portugal.
No such luck in Scotland.
It prompts the question, how anyone can watch this joke of a league or take it with any degree of seriousness?
While Celtic and Rangers swim around like two very big fishes in a very small Scottish pond, they routinely get swallowed up like a pair of guppies by big whales in European competition.
For two clubs that purport to be among the best in Europe, they've won a scant two European trophies between them: Celtic won the 1967 European Cup and Rangers claimed the 1972 Cup Winners' Cup.
Celtic only qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League this season for the first time since the tournament was restructured in 1993. Rangers only made it the second round last season.
Celtic supporters point to their club reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup final and the Hoops' victory over Manchester United in the group stage of this year's Champions League as proof that Celtic can be considered among European soccer's elite.
It is to laugh.
That Celtic reached the final of the UEFA Cup (let's face it folks, that tournament is not what it once was) or that it occasionally gets lucky in beating a team the calibre of Man U can not disguise the fact that Celtic, like Rangers, is a second-rate team that simply can't cut it in European competition.
And they have the farcical nature of the Scottish Premier League to thank for that because the quality of competition it provides hardly prepares them to take on the game's true elite.
With no end in sight to the Old Firm's domination in Scotland (wanna bet that in eight years we'll be talking about the title streak having reached 30 years?) the Scottish Premier League is in danger of becoming a bigger laughingstock than it already is.
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
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