The SPFL fixture list has been publicly announced today and it’s been met with conspiracy theories from Ibrox way and Ally McCoist. We don’t want our dear little teddy bears to cry so let’s perform a little analysis to put their poor little success starved minds at ease.
Firstly, it should be noted that during the very first season that the new Rangers ever entered the SPFL under the guidance of Mark Warburton, the Ibrox club played four out of the bottom six from the previous season in their opening six matches. We didn’t hear a peep from them about fixture lists at that time, instead all the discussion centred around how the magic hat will go on to be future England manager. Indeed, the fixtures were Hamilton (10th), Dundee (8th), Motherwell (5th), Kilmarnock (11th), Celtic (1st), Ross County (6th). Nine points were collected from a possible 18, including a 5-1 spanking at Paradise.
Were the SFA, SPFL and Peter Lawwell colluding to give the new Rangers an easy start? Did it make a difference or did the best team win the league?
🤣🤣🤣 you couldn’t make this up… we’ve not even started!!! https://t.co/3r209Fgvi6
— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) July 6, 2020
To kick the campaign off, Celtic host Hamilton, whilst The Rangers head to Pittodrie. The champions always play at home on the opening day to unfurl the league flag, the new Govan club have yet to win a major title so they can be forgiven for not knowing this. However, why is a trip to Pittodrie deemed so bad? After all, Steven Gerrard famously said “We’re a class above Aberdeen,” and that was lapped up by the supporters.
But please, don’t reach for the tissues to dry your eyes yet teddy bears… hear me out. Celtic have to travel to Rugby Park for the second game of the season. Though, we won our only game their last season, it is a ground that we lost at the year before, as well as winning in the last minute. Certainly, it’s a tricky place to play with the plastic pitch. Maybe, The Rangers would like to swap, give us a trip to Pittodrie and let them go to Rugby Park? On second thoughts, the Bears might still have nightmares about their last away match against Kilmarnock when they lost 2-1 and Twitter was awash with anger as they admitted the league was over, only for a pandemic to magically boost their chances again. On the other hand, Celtic’s record at Pittodrie is phenomenal of late, so maybe the first away fixtures haven’t worked out too bad after all.
Despite the above, I still hear a whimper. Fear not. After Hamilton and Kilmarnock, Celtic travel to St Mirren to play on another plastic pitch, a ground where the Hoops’ last three results have been 0-0, 2-1 and 2-0. Celtic then face the notorious Aberdeen, who must be terrible to face given how bad it is that the ‘Gers have to play them on opening day. After that, it’s Dundee United at Paradise, before hosting Motherwell. The Steelmen were robbed of 2nd place in the league as they could have caught The Rangers, thus we are potentially playing the second best team in the league.
The final complaint in the teddy bear basket is that the Glasgow Derby game has been moved back to October. Clearly this has been done to give the best chance of having fans at the game, not for Celtic’s advantage, but for the spectacle and for Sky Sports to showcase our nation’s biggest match in better circumstances. That said, it’s unlikely that the stadium will be allowed to be full. Therefore, Celtic will still have the disadvantage of playing in a half empty stadium, meanwhile The Rangers will likely have two derby matches with full home crowds.
I hope the upset teddy bears digest the above. Do stop crying and know your place.