Home > Sport > It’s broken, but they won’t fix it

It’s broken, but they won’t fix it

So I was wrong; Motherwell did turn over Rangers and will play in what passes for the Scottish Premiership next season.

Am I blue about that? No, of course not, but I am narked that it will be at least 14 months before the next possible league meeting between the two clubs. League reconstruction has become a continuous process in Scottish football and yesterday’s result will put more fuel in its tank. Unfortunately, it doesn’t know where it’s heading and it doesn’t have satnav.

Nothing would please me more than a sudden burst of sanity among the game’s governors, leading to Hibs, Rangers, St Mirren and Falkirk being plucked out of ‘The Championship’, as our second division is laughingly named, and installed in a new sixteen club top division, to kick off in September. A sixteen-club league serves the Portuguese very well, and we don’t exactly look down on them in terms of quality. The game’s administrators will rush to tell me that such a set-up would wipe eight games off the Premiership calendar, but they could be made up by devoting August to a seeded mini-league stage of a revamped League Cup, a format that was enormously popular in my youth.

It isn’t going to happen, not because of European qualifiers or anything like that, but because of greed. Forty years ago this summer Scottish football abandoned its traditional home and away structure in favour of a new format in which clubs played each other four times a season. They didn’t do that to serve the best interests and development of the game, but so that each non Old Firm club could have four Old Firm home games in each season, with the full houses they insured. There may have been a hope that general quality would improve also, but with the exception of the Fergie years at Aberdeen and the McLean period at Dundee United, that didn’t happen. In fact the opposite came to pass; for the last thirty years no side other than Rangers or Celtic has won the Premier League title, and in the same period only three clubs other than the big two, namely Aberdeen, Hearts and Motherwell,  have ever finished runner-up. The original purpose of the structure has been lost also. Yesterday’s season-ending game, with so much at stake, attracted only 9,220 spectators, around 60% of the capacity of the Fir Park ground.

If it isn’t working any more, at any level, why do the governors of the people’s game cling to the structure?

Categories: Sport
  1. viewforth9@yahoo.co.uk
    June 1, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I agree and have been saying the same for years. It should be about giving the customers what they want. I’m nearly 60 and still have great memories of the League Cup when I was a boy. Sections with Hearts, Hibs, Raith, Dunfermline playing each other home and away Saturday and Wednesday in August would be great. Knockout could start before league begins and final before Xmas. Would also do away with the need for pointless pre-season games. Unfortunately UEFA qualifying rounds would make it difficult but I’m sure a solution could be found. Those involved in UEFA could start in July which may help them get past the preliminary rounds. Now that would be novel! Sadly the suits wont want to do this, why, I’m not sure. It won’t happen though. We will end up with a 16 team top league splitting after so many games just to ensure at least four OF games every season. It’s time the non-OF clubs grew some and made change happen. Maybe now that some of the prominent non-OF clubs are being led by strong women rather than weak men means change will eventually come about.

    Sent from Windows Mail

    • June 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

      UEFA pre-qualifiers are played in July; sides involved in Europe, four maximum, could be given exemption from the mini-league stage, if they wanted it. European football is more curse than a blessing these days. The Europa League is an eleven month competition. Aberdeen, St Johnstone and ICT will have a couple of weeks off and then back to training. Aberdeen and Saints will be playing on July 2 and 9 with ICT coming in on July 16. These matches will draw derisory crowds and could involve travel to the likes of Ordabasy in Kazakstan or if they’re lucky, to the might of La Fiorita in San Marino. Chances are none of them will make it as far as the play-offs which follow the qualifying round, but it’s pretty much certain that they’ll all lose money in the process. I look for Saints and ICT to be in the bottom half of our league by Christmas.

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