SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has hailed the arrival of Brendan Rodgers and Joey Barton as ‘box office’ for Scottish football.
Speaking yesterday as the fixture schedules were announced for the upcoming campaign, Doncaster also admitted that Rangers’ return to the top-flight is a huge lift for the game.
The first Old Firm clash will take place on September 10 and Doncaster insists former Liverpool manager Rodgers’ appointment at Celtic and ex-Manchester City midfielder Barton’s switch to Rangers has made sure that football fans around the world will keep a close eye on the Premiership.
“The Old Firm derby is the one game which resonates around the world and we broadcast to over 100 countries as it is.
“Already we’re seeing people talking not just in the UK but around the world about that game, in all sorts of markets, so it’s massively important for the whole game in Scotland that that game has returned.
“We delighted to see it back.
“There’s huge excitement and huge anticipation. There’s no question that the arrival of Brendan Rodgers, the arrival of Joey Barton – that’s box office and it’s been a while since people were talking around the world about the Scottish game.
“The arrival of people like that, into Scotland, is massive and is testament to the ambition of the clubs and should result in even more arrivals. Frankly, I can’t wait.
“I think it’s wide open and although the bookies have installed Celtic as the pre-season favourites, I think anything is possible.
“The return of Rangers certainly adds a lot of spice and I suspect there will be many twists and turns over the weeks ahead.”
Doncaster, meanwhile, admits he is not concerned about the prospect of the Old Firm being invited to join an expanded English Football League set-up.
The Football League is proposing a revamp that would increase the number of teams from 92 to 100, with the sides spread across five divisions.
Doncaster, speaking to Sky Sports, added: “Firstly, it’s an English League Football process, it’s their competition and it’s important their 72 clubs have their debate about what they want to see happening.
“Ultimately, the members will achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. I think we should have an open mind to what it might involve for other competitions in the UK but, no, I’m not concerned.”
Doncaster, meanwhile, insists the SPFL will offer their support to Celtic and Dundee if the clubs pursue their plan to take a Premiership fixture to America.
He added: “I think it’s important we have an open mind to these sorts of initiatives.
“We need as many people as possible to be watching the Scottish game, if there is a way of taking a game overseas, we’re duty bound to look at it.
“It’s certainly an exciting concept and we know there’s a huge interest in America in Scottish football, and I can see why that might be attractive.”