The Premier League has turned down a plan to bring Celtic and Rangers into English football.
The Old Firm pair had hoped to be part of new plans put forward by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside for a two-tier Premier League of between 36 and 40 teams.
The Scottish pair would have been invited to join the lower league, but the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.
“Bolton Wanderers submitted a discussion paper detailing ideas concerning the restructuring of the Premier League into two tiers with the inclusion of Celtic and Rangers,” read a Premier League statement.
“The clubs welcomed the additional input into an ongoing process, however, they were of the opinion that bringing Celtic and Rangers into any form of Premier League set-up was not desirable or viable.
“The other relevant ideas contained within Bolton’s paper will now be taken forward as part of the wider strategic review being undertaken by the Premier League since November 2008 with the aim of providing recommendations before December 2010.”
The proposal received a hostile reception from the Premier League’s 20 chairmen when first aired by Gartside six months ago, But the Bolton chairman remains concerned about the growing discrepancy between the big four and the rest of the Premiership clubs.
Gartside made it clear that he believed tackling the big differences in income was the league’s greatest challenge.
“Addressing this polarisation of clubs and the increasing revenue differentials will, I believe, be the major strategic issue for the Premier League over coming years,” he said.
“The Premier League is an exciting product for supporters and for television viewers, but there is no doubt that as the years go by, and the same few clubs continue to benefit from the huge additional revenues from the Champions League, the remaining clubs find it enormously difficult to challenge.
“At the same time, the gap between Premier League revenues and those of the Championship continues to widen and I believe a ‘fear factor’ is beginning to emerge amongst Premier League clubs outside the top few.”