SPFL’s handling of post-split fixtures has been a complete omnishambles

SPFL’s handling of post-split fixtures has been a complete omnishambles

By Niall Murray

Good things come to those who wait. Well, we now know that’s definitely no longer the case thanks to the SPFL. Scottish football and all those associated with the game waited with baited breath for the post-split fixtures. After what was, quite frankly, a ridiculous length of time we were finally enlightened and discovered the fixtures that would end our season.

 

It’s quite remarkable how the league’s chiefs have managed to suck all of the fun out of what should be an exciting moment in the season. Teams get to know what their run in will be like and how that will potentially affect their survival or hopes or their fight for second place. Simply put, the SPFL have made a complete and utter arse of it.

 

Conversely, they’ve actually done something quite impressive. They’ve managed to get everyone in Scottish football to agree on something; that the handling of the post-split fixture list was a complete and utter omnishambles. Sure, you can’t please everyone and there will be complaints every year surrounding the split. You can, however, make sure they are published before the very last minute and prevent the whole occasion from being a complete and utter clusterfuck.

 

Anger from clubs

 

You might be thinking that Scottish Premiership clubs were kept in the loop whilst fixtures were being thrashed out. If you were to think this you would be very long. In fact, sources at two clubs confirmed to TheTwoPointOne that they were told about the fixture list just 20 minutes before it was published online.

 

 

This is quite simply out of order. How about working with the clubs and trying to come up with a more viable solution? They should, at the very least, be given more notice and not the same amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Friends on Netflix.

 

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the likes of Kilmarnock and Hearts have both released statements condemning the fixture list. Whilst an imbalance in home and away fixtures must realistically be expected, Kilmarnock must feel hard done by to not even have a televised game. Steve Clarke’s side have been a revelation this season and are in an incredible vein of form.

 

Old Firm madness

 

First off, let’s just be clear. It’s completely understandable why police didn’t want a title decider between Rangers and Celtic. Being a police officer on Old Firm day is obviously no cakewalk but I just find it so hard to believe that we’d see another so-called “shame game.” Times have changed, 19 years have passed and it’s such damning indictment of the way football fans are thought of in this country.

 

A title decider between two bitter rivals? It’s the ideal advert for any country’s game and instead of jumping at the chance our league is actively avoiding it. All things considered, it’s rather extraordinary. What’s even more incredible is that in reality, it’s not even really a title decider. Nobody at this point is going to argue if Celtic are essentially champions. It’s not a matter of if, but rather when they are going to win the title.

 

 

Furthermore, the SPFL’s apparent nightmare situation of an Old Firm title decider could still realistically materialise. Hibs have already taken points off Celtic twice this season and there’s no reason they can’t again given their form. Were that to happen then Celtic could secure title number seven at Parkhead the following week against their bitter rivals.

 

We’re missing an opportunity here. There’s no way other countries would have turned down the opportunity of a title decider if they had the opportunity. The recent Manchester derby wasn’t manufactured. It was a genuine title decider that came about naturally, but do you think the Premier League would turn down the opportunity to create that match again if they were in the position of the SPFL? Absolutely not. Would La Liga be foaming at the mouth if they knew they could have a title decider between Real Madrid and Barcelona? Of course they would. Only in Scotland would we say no.

 

Scottish football fans as an afterthought

 

Every football fan in the country was excited about these fixtures. As stated previously, you want to know which teams you’ll be facing at home and how your run in could essentially define your season. Instead, the SPFL have wasted this opportunity and left fans with a bad taste their mouth.

 

It’s insulting to wait so long. When it comes to fan attendances the Scottish Premiership comes first in Europe on a per capita basis. It’s one of the greatest things about our game. We’re a small country that’s football-obsessed and we continue to show that by stepping through the turnstiles every week, up and down the country.

 

 

The SPFL have done a stellar job of pissing off fans these past few weeks. It’s not fair to not keep supporters even vaguely in the loop. It’s crystal clear that they are being treated as an afterthought here. There’s been no consideration of how announcing fixtures at such short notice can affect many fans. That’s a huge problem.

 

An opportunity lost

 

The split is a flawed concept. That said, the Scottish clubs voted for it so why not make the best of the situation? Let’s have an occasion based around it and make it out to be the significant event that it actually is. After all, it plays a huge part in deciding where each team finishes in the league.

 

If the split took place in the English Premier League or in MLS it’d be made to feel like a huge occasion. Scotland could learn a lot by the way the US packages its game. The playoffs in the off-season are made to feel like must-watch matches. Similarly, their SuperDraft is another huge event with brings excitement to their product.  Even the speed in which they had Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal clipped up and on Twitter moments after it happened puts the SPFL to shame.

 

Sky Sports continue to sell us Premier League ‘Super Sunday’ when we all know there’s a very good chance that those super matches will end in a dull 0-0 draw. Scotland’s game is marketable we’re just continuously failing to package it in the right way.

 

🏆⚽️| The @Ladbrokes Premiership Post-Split fixtures are as follows. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/1Jx3C3npFS

— SPFL (@spfl) April 11, 2018

 

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