SPL: Lunatics or Pioneers?
It was announced this week that the Scottish FA and the Scottish Premier League had come to an agreement with the managers of Celtic and Rangers to postpone their matches with Falkirk and St. Mirren respectively on the weekend of 10th November, all due to the national side’s crunch match with world champions Italy a week later.
Scotland boss Alex McLeish draws a lot of his players from the Old Firm clubs, and requested the week rest for them as to give the Scottish side a better-than-decent chance against the Italians. Frankly I’m a little concerned about this arrangement.
Let’s have it right, all four bosses in question; Gordon Strachan, Walter Smith, John Hughes and Angus Macpherson, are Scots. Now imagine Steve McClaren asking Avram Grant or Rafael Benitez to postpone his side’s game on the same weekend. It wouldn’t happen. If one of those bosses were foreign, then this special arrangement wouldn’t be possible.
To be honest, I am very surprised that UEFA haven’t stepped in about this matter and said something. Let’s face it; Michel Platini and William Gaillard have plenty to say about everything else. Seriously though, surely this is an unfair advantage. Italy won’t have the same privilege of fielding a fresh eleven will they? It’s as big a game for them as it is for Scotland, so why doesn’t Roberto Donadoni write to Bernd Schuster, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti et al and ask for each of them to postpone their games for the benefit of his side? Because he would get a slap, that’s why.
The main reason of concern for me though is this. Imagine if, unlike me, the English FA thought that the SFA were pioneers. And then imagine if the French FA followed suit. And then imagine if the Spanish FA did the same, and you see were I’m going with this obviously. Now England, for example, draws its players from all round the country for the national side. There aren’t just two teams who supply most of the players. So if this were to catch on, then the whole league would be postponed for another week. Let’s face it; one week without top flight football is boring enough without the FAs making it two.
I think we have to take lessons from our counterparts in the RFU here. Whilst the 6 Nations is getting played, the Guiness Premiership RU matches are still played. Granted, not many fans are there to see their team, but the matches continue regardless. I would like to see something similar in football. Of course, this won’t happen, because around 7 weeks of revenue throughout the season will be missed as half the fan bases of most clubs are watching the national side.
This is the equivalent really of Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea asking the FA to postpone their matches the week before a Champions League game. It’s not right, and I think that UEFA needs to step in definitely.
So for me, the equation is simple:
(SFA + Alex McLeish) + SPL = BUNCH OF LUNATICS