It’s embarrassing now Mr Doncaster, why it’s time to ditch the split

THE POST SPLIT fixtures have still not been released, as the incompetency that dogs Scottish football becomes apparent once again.

Initially the plan was to release these fixtures early this week. Neil Doncaster and his SPFL Board have many factors to consider, although unfortunately the interests the supporters are seldom considered.

So what are these competing interests and why can’t the SPFL go with their own decision, which as was reported the other night, would have seen Celtic go to Hibs in the first post split match with a chance to wrap up 7 in a row at Easter Road?

THE BROADCASTERS – they will want Celtic to be away from home because they will have a much bigger TV audience if it is only the much small away support that is at the game. A league win at Celtic Park – especially if not against Rangers – would see almost 60,000 Celtic supporters inside Paradise, so not watching on the box. Also BT Sport, who don’t have the rights to the post split Glasgow Derby match, will obviously not want that as a title decider as Sky would benefit from that. So BT Sport want Celtic to be away from time first time round.

Of course if Celtic FAILED to beat Hibs then the circus would roll on for another week and that would mean – according to the leaked initial schedule – that Celtic could win in v Rangers the next weekend. That would benefit Sky Sports, who might think that Neil Lennon’s side could do them a favour, but wouldn’t please Police Scotland.

THE POLICE – They are apparently keen to avoid a Celtic v Rangers ‘title decider’, even though this fixture would be no such thing. Much has been made of what happened in 1999 – which looking back, had a 6.05pm kick off time, so the pubs had been open for a considerable period before kick-off. There were unsavioury incidents that day alright but there has been much worse before and after this match. An early kick-off to this match – whenever it happens – is guaranteed. There will be no more early evening kick off times to suit broadcasters. And as Celtic are now going for 8 in a row next season, the Police had better get ready for the increased tension that this league winning run is going to create over the next few years.

THE CLUBS -One club in the top six has already benefitted from having two home fixtures against all of their opponents in the top six. How could this happen? You could understand that happening if for instance Hamilton or Ross County had had a great season and made the top six. So one club is going to have to go to Ibrox for a third match, meaning that they will only have one home fixture against Rangers. That will have a severe financial impact for that club and brings our old friend Sporting Integrity back into play. And since it’s Scottish football, the man who is set to draw the short straw is Neil Lennon. He’ll probably pick up a ban for complaining about it when the inevitable happens.

THE SUPPORTERS – The ground that is never considered by the football authorities in Scotland. Hibs season tickets for next season are flying and their support have really got behind their team this season as Neil Lennon’s side got them back into the Premiership after too long out of the top devision for a proud club like Hibs. These Hibs season ticket holders can reasonably have assumed that a top six finish would guarantee them two home games against Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Aberdeen. They are about to be short changed. Then there is the Celtic season ticket holders, the biggest single group of supporters in the Scottish game. Celtic are at Hampden on Sunday and there the MAJORITY of Celtic season ticket holders will have been unable to get a ticket and it will be the same for the final if Celtic beat Rangers in the semi-final. So of the SPFL are creating a policy – based on the competing vested interests above- that Celtic will NOT be allowed to win 7 in a row, 8 in a row etc at Celtic Park, then where is the possibility of seeing the glory for these season ticket holders?


The fixtures will be announced, there will be various mains and grans – most of them justified – but the one thing that most supporters will now agree on is that the split – a decent idea in principle – doesn’t work in practice. The supporters are literally being sold short by the Scottish game. It’s time to go back to playing every team twice home and away and having the fixtures announced for the entire season before a ball is kicked. Then we can all see what happens without vested interests getting in the way of what the paying public have actually paid for in advance.


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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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