Archive for category Football

Bank holiday Old Firm game?

Every blog I seem to write about the old firm, it’s not actually about their football but either the government, the SFA or violence.

So, I want to change that…but unfortunately I can’t, as plans to have the last old firm game of the season on a bank holiday are being discussed.

 If anyone doesn’t remember the last time that happened, here you go..

watch?v=ZCiILF4UIgA&playnext=1&list=PLB0D2F83D6912567F

 I think you will all agree that these scenes from the  fans were unacceptable and no-one wants to see this again, but what fuelled this chaos was the fact it was a title decider. It seems like this year the title could go down to the last old firm, which could spell trouble. Celtic and Rangers are evenly matched at the moment, making the scheduling for this game really difficult, as the police want to avoid any trouble. Especially after the Scottish Cup clash earlier this month.

The dates that are being discussed are Friday April 22 and Monday May 2. In addition, the game will be a lunchtime kick-off. Presumably this is to discourage all fans from drinking

Just a moment, is this still Scotland we are talking about…

Referee Hugh Dallas struck by coin thrown by a Celtic supporter during the 1999 title decider

However, in my opinion, no matter when and where an old firm game will take place, there will always be some trouble. Whether it’s a bad refereeing decision to spark the furore or a on-pitch flare up, it will be the same as most games that have gone before it – steeped in controversy.

If this fixture is in any way similar to that in May 1999, the government had better set the date for the summit just now…

All joking aside, I think that Friday April 22 will be the best date to hold the match, meaning that the old firm will be the first fixture of the split. It looks as if the title will still be up for grabs by then,  so it’s the best solution for me.

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Rangers win cup as players are on best behaviour

3 reds, 11 yellows, countless arrests and a government inquiry. Yes, it was that match that sparked mayhem which led to the police and First Minister to hold a summit meeting.

Squaring-up: Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist after last Old firm game

So, this League Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers was eagerly awaited by all, but for the wrong reasons.

Having been spoken to by Strathclyde police before the match, both Celtic and Rangers cooperated and competed in a fantastic final, which should be talked about for its footballing reasons only.

Walter Smith’s side won the match 2-1 after extra-time, lifting the first cup of the season.

Despite there being a red card for a professional foul, this was a rather tame affair compared to the last match but was enjoyed just as much. The football on show was good, especially in the first half. Both teams were attacking, creating an end-to-end match, providing a great spectacle for all.

However, I would like to question if this match will be talked about as much as the last one. The government was quick to criticise the scenes of a few weeks ago. A summit was then called, which seen the press cover the story for a few weeks leaving a dark cloud over Scottish football.

Here’s a video to give you a quick reminder of the summit outcome…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rw7Pke4qcE

In my opinion, the fall-out from the last old firm game was an over-reaction which portrayed Scottish football in a bad light. So, hopefully this final showed that the event s that took place a few weeks ago were a one-off.

But will the teams and fans be praised? As of yet, no. The government are always quick to blame, but this final was played in a good spirit and should be noticed by all as a great spectacle.

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Early Scottish Premier League start could mean better European campaigns for clubs

Changes: SPL chief executive believes early start will benefit clubs

It has been confirmed that next year, the SPL season will begin on July 23 – 3 weeks earlier than previous seasons. In the last two years, the season has started on the 14th and 15th August, respectively. SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster has backed the boards decision to have a summer start but the decision has split opinion between managers.

Aberdeen manager Craig Brown is all for the change but Neil Lennon, Celtic manager, is not impressed with the plan as it clashes with Celtic’s friendly cup tournament at the end of July. However, the board have included a rule that a club can postpone one fixture to compete in friendly games which have already been arranged. Smart idea. But shouldn’t they have taken this into account in the first place? Or maybe began this change the season after next.

Nevertheless, this change is a good idea and brings around several advantages.

Firstly, in recent years, Scottish clubs have performed poorly on the European stage in both the Champions League and the Europa League. This has led to Scotland dropping to 15th behind countries such as Belgium! A cause for such disappointing campaigns from teams such as Aberdeen, Falkirk and Motherwell is due to the fact other countries begin their leagues earlier, therefore are fitter and match sharp. Therefore, this move can only be a positive one.

Starting the league earlier will also accommodate the winter break debate. Naturally, games will be called off just like this season, which has caused fixture pile-ups for some teams. For example; Dundee United currently have 5 games in just 12 days, whilst Rangers have suffered from the same fate in recent years due to their Uefa Cup exploits.  Therefore, fewer midweek games will be needed which creates space for fixtures that need to be re-arranged.  

All in all, this move has my backing and is a strong indication that more changes will follow. For example; the whole winter break debate may re-surface. Also, this may spark the possibility of a new league structure, which has been discussed recently.

So, exciting times for Scottish football. Finally!

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Banning of Celtic and Rangers games to be discussed following bad-tempered cup clash

Violence: Segregation needed in old firm matches to prevent trouble

Following the heated Scottish Cup 5th round replay between Celtic and Rangers, there have been calls to play the fixture behind closed doors and even to ban it all together.

The game was covered in controversy surrounding both sets of players and management staff, in which Rangers ended the game with eight men left on the park. At the end, there was a heated arguement between Ally McCoist, Rangers’ Assistant Manger and Celtic Manager, Neil Lennon. It is understood McCoist was angry with Lennon’s’ criticism of El-Hadji Diouf during the game, which led to both sets of management staff being restrained by police.

 Just days before, the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation had called for the banning of the fixture, claiming violence and crime rises in the aftermath of games. After this recent game, who can disagree? However, old firm matches have always been like this and will always be the same. Two teams with great history’s competing with passion and a willingness to win. 

 “It’s safe to say the police service dreads Old Firm games…..the policing of the game does not concern us…………it is the murder and mayhem that follow after”   says Police Federation chairman Les Gray.

Strathclyde Police, who supervise these games, claim alcohol and aggression on the pitch is what sparks the violence off the field, which is clear for all to see.  However, the SPL is looked at as a joke in other countries and although this game was a bad advert for Scottish Football, old firm games drag in huge audiences. Banning these games would show a lack of ambition and stop a fixture which is covered in history.

Also, Sky Sports show all the old firm matches, therefore cancelling the games, would damage the finances of the clubs who rely on payments from Sky TV. When Celtic and Rangers play, there is this unique atmosphere which no other game can match, so we should be proud of it and not stop it.

Furthermore, this is not the only match ever to cause controversy and violence amongst supporters. Last year, in a Cup match between West Ham United and Millwall,  a pitch invasion broke out leading to many arrests and serious injuries. I never seen this sort of violence in the old firm game. Some perspective is needed I think. So,  as for banning or playing Celtic and Rangers game behind closed doors? It’s a non-starter, for me.

 As the late Jock Stein once said: ‘Football is nothing without fans.’

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