By Alex Stevens
Craig Burley has given a no-holds-barred assessment of the Old Firm game, branding it an embarrassment and of no interest to anyone who doesn’t support Celtic or Rangers.
The former Celtic midfielder claims he has little enthusiasm for Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final and would only watch the match by accident.
Burley is also convinced that fans of both teams are kidding themselves if they think the Old Firm clash will attract a global TV audience.
“Why would I watch a bang-average Rangers team, that has won the second level in Scotland, playing against one of the worst Celtic teams in recent memory,? Burley told the Scottish Sun.
“Celtic and Rangers fans will watch it, I get that. But if you’re an outsider, why would you?”
Ex-Scotland international Burley spent two-and-a-half years at Celtic from 1997 to 1999 when the team was regarded as being far superior to the current side, which is closing in on a fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership title.
Rangers have earned promotion back to the top flight after cruising to the Championship title to end a four-year spell out of the Premiership and set up far more regular Old Firm clashes next season.
Now an analyst with ESPN and based in the United States, Burnley says the match-up between the bitter rivals holds little appeal for him.
“I won’t watch Sunday’s game unless it happens to pop up when I’m going through the channels. It genuinely doesn’t interest me,” Burley added in the Scottish Sun.
“I’m 44 and I lived in Glasgow for two and a half years of my life. Other than that time, I was on the outside looking in.
“When I signed for Celtic from Chelsea in 1997 I’d been living away from Scotland for ten years.
“When I came back people were bombarding me with all this stuff about stopping Rangers winning ten titles in a row. I didn’t even know that Rangers had won nine titles in succession — that’s how little I knew about what was going on.
“The two and a half years I spent in the west of Scotland as an Old Firm player was more than enough, believe me. But that’s the thing so many people find difficult to comprehend. I went there as a career move. I did my job, but that was it. Supporters don’t really understand that.
“So you can ask me who I think will win on Sunday all you like. I couldn’t care less. I’m more concerned about getting my golf handicap down.”
Social media keeps Burley up to speed with what happening in Scotland, and he has blunt views about the standard of play that is likely this weekend.
He told the Scottish Sun: “The last game between them was a total embarrassment so this one’s unlikely to be a showcase for all that’s good about Scottish football.
“People say Rangers against Celtic is a global game and it’ll be great. Global, yes. But great? Really? People kid themslves on. The standard isn’t going to be great, not to a TV audience that’s used to La Liga and the English Premier League.
“On our channel, ESPN, those are the leagues which drive the show. Are they going to be more interested in Rangers and Celtic than Manchester United and Barcelona? You’re living in cloud cuckoo land if you think that.”
In other Celtic news, Liverpool are closely monitoring one of the Scottish club’s emerging stars.