The debate about the Old Firm and their final destination has continued. Last week they were heading to England and now when it seems that some of the realities involved in that have hit home, they are heading for the North Atlantic. I’m sure Greenland and the Faroe Islands will welcome them.

I felt compelled to explore some of the complexities of the situation. I believe that when you extrapolate the implications of any move then it becomes obvious how ludicrous these ideas are and how unlikely any change is.

Strong, independent national leagues with their recognisable differences in style and structure are the foundations upon which are built the marquee competitions. The Champions League relies on countries to provide opposition for the giants of Europe to compete with and so create a viable competition. A competition that attracts huge financial investment from broadcasters and advertisers has to have something to sell. Despite being the same as most national leagues in that the Champions League will only be won by at most a handful of clubs, it achieves this. Celtic and Rangers have no more chance of winning the Champions League than Aberdeen or Dundee United have of winning the SPL. Regardless they still expect the opportunity to play against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea. So that argument is good enough for them in Europe but not for us on a parochial basis. Hypocrisy if you ask me.

For those of us unable to challenge for the Champions League there is the Europa League, a competition which potentially could take us to any of the other 52 countries in the competition. I think that’s brilliant for players and supporters alike and makes finishing third or fourth in the SPL each year more than worthwhile. I’m not embarrassed by the fact that because of finances we can’t win the SPL any more than Rangers or Celtic should be embarrassed that only they can win it because of finances. They should only be embarrassed when they don’t win it.

The implications of Celtic and Rangers leaving the domestic game manifest themselves in many ways. The prospect raises so many questions that the Old Firm either choose to ignore or don’t seem to care about.

What would the effect be on our own league in terms of interest from broadcasters and advertisers? What, most importantly, would be the supporters’ view of the competition’s value without the two Glasgow clubs? Would it effect our national status? Would we be faced with team GB? What are the implications for English clubs? The English game is a pyramid. Any team has the chance to go from non-league and below to the Premier League. They just need the money. Celtic and Rangers’ inclusion in the English pyramid has implications for all clubs down south. At what level would they go in? What do the Manchester and Metropolitan police feel about the prospect?

Too many questions and not enough answers leave me to conclude that the big two will not play in England even in the medium term.

So let’s look east, over the North Sea to northern Europe. Forget the Germans, French, Spanish and Italians, like the English clubs they are quite happy with their lot and don’t require newcomers.

What countries are we potentially talking about? How many clubs? Which ones?

Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, perhaps Russia? Denmark have qualified for the World Cup. Do their clubs want in?

Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV. I can’t think of a Belgian club of real substance, Brugge perhaps. Rosenborg, Molde, the Moscow clubs?

Several of these countries have a different season from ourselves. How would that work? It’s a minefield.

What about Celtic and Rangers
supporters, traipsing across Europe every other week. Inverness suddenly doesn’t sound so far.

Perhaps Peter Lawwell and Martin Bain see a model where supporters mainly watch home matches and pay to view away ones. I don’t know how much interest there would be in Rosenberg away. The broadcasters would soon work that one out.

Any limited European league would be a disaster and would soon deteriorate into a non-event.

Uefa comprise 53 national associations. Honest. Try and name them. Many enjoy relationships with each other of which we here on our island are unaware. Many rivalries exist throughout Europe that are stronger than our contempt for the Auld Enemy. Many are based on much more recent political and religious conflicts. There are also many healthy positive relationships that exist. And within those 53 nations who make up Uefa there are vast cultural and social differences. From Ireland in the west to Kazakhstan in the east and from Iceland in the north to Israel in the south there are a host of cultures and football doctrines.

If Uefa allow a group to splinter then it would threaten the integrity of the organisation itself. They will never allow that to happen.

My intention in examining these issues is to try to find an argument that says there is a way that Celtic and Rangers can leave. I can’t find one and surely they must realise that too.

I have every sympathy for both of these clubs being such big fish in such a small pond. They are landlocked and had better think about ensuring their competitiveness and very survival or they will face the prospect of an even bleaker future.

I have been appealing for some time for a proper, well-financed audit of our game, not some amateur quango that asks a load of TV pundits what they think should be done. Football deserves serious government support. With Holyrood’s support we should commission a comprehensive study in the mould of the Taylor report, exploring all aspects of the domestic competitions in Europe, what other countries are doing, their league set-ups, their seasons, what the implications are of summer football for supporters, gates, advertisers, broadcasters and European football and what can we do to help Celtic and Rangers realise their potential without losing them.

Football in Scotland runs through our blood and we have a duty to protect our great game for future generations. We must be careful not to undermine its value and appeal. Football offers more positives to the community than negatives and can do even more in the future but without radical change there will be a diminishing future for us all. As for the Old Firm, if anything ever changed they could take advantage of it but as the senior partners in the Scottish game they have a responsibility to turn their heads back home and to demand the change.