Rangers and Celtic ‘had deal with UEFA to move Old Firm teams to England’

Rangers’ second most expensive ever signing, Michael Ball, has claimed former chairman Sir David Murray confirmed Celtic and UEFA had agreed for the Old Firm to be playing in the English Premier League.

The Ibrox side splashed out £6.5 million to sign Ball from Everton in 2001. Only Tore Andre Flo cost more than him and he remains the third most expensive transfer in Scottish football, after Celtic splashed out £9 million to land Odsonne Edouard this week.

The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is one of the oldest in football.

The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is one of the oldest in football.

However, the England international suffered a knee injury soon into his Ibrox career and was eventually sold to PSV Eindhoven in a cut-price £500,000 deal four years later.

For years, Celtic and Rangers pushed to be allowed to get the chance of moving to English football, but their path was always blocked by European football’s governing body.

However, Ball has revealed former Rangers chairman Murray persuaded him to move to Glasgow on the promise of a sensational Old Firm switch to England.

Ball, speaking on the All Together Now Everton Podcast, said: “I went to Ibrox and met David Murray and he sold the move to me.

He showed me around Ibrox and told me stories. It was fascinating.

“He told me what he wanted to do, which was to be in the English Premier League in two years time. It was agreed with Celtic and UEFA.

“He sold it to me and I phoned my dad on the pitch and told him I was signing.

“There was an issue with my knee and I had to go through medicals, but I eventually signed for £6.5 million.

“I only lasted about 16 games before I broke down and I was a year out. So maybe Everton saw that coming and wanted me out.

“I thought going to Scotland would be easier, but it was ten times harder. The pressure, the players you were playing against were fit and quick. If you misplaced a pass the crowd would get on your back.

“I’d gone from being Man of the Match at Everton to sitting on the bench at Rangers. Arthur Numan was ahead of me and I didn’t realise how good he was.

“Dick Advocaat was a bit of a dictator, but he knew what he wanted. We had some top, top players at the club and we should have made a bigger impact in Europe.”

This story first appeared on our sister title's website - The Scotsman.