A Guest Post by The Generic Luchadore in the aftermath of the Warsaw “Home” Leg
I woke up the other morning to some idiot on the radio talking about the “death of Scottish football”. Everywhere you look – including the BBC – you see articles claiming that the Championship will be better to watch next season than the Premiership. This is a product of the backwards attitude of Scottish football and the SPFL – who paid BT Sport £250,000 to show The Rangers games last season.
Scottish football could learn by looking at the NBA. Back in the day, the big rivalry was Lakers v Celtics and Magic v Bird. This year, neither of these teams looks like they’re going to make it to the playoffs. Which is why the NBA isn’t marketing Lakers v Celtics as the big rivalry – it would be a joke! The NBA looks at the quality of the teams and who is likely to succeed and markets accordingly. Last year Heat was the super-team and favourites to win the playoffs and the NBA marketed them accordingly as the team to beat. The Cleveland Cavaliers were so shitty that they got the first draft pick last year. This year, however, the cowardly Lebron has ‘went home’ to the Cavs seeking playoff glory – which is the same move he pulled when he ‘left home’ for Miami – and the Timberwolves traded Kevin Love with the Cavs. All of a sudden all eyes are on the Cavs who were more or less irrelevant last year. The NBA markets teams according to their quality not according to their names.
Scottish football’s inability to accept that Rangers are not the second best team in Scotland – in spite of the fact that they got easily hammered by SPL clubs in cup competitions last year – is holding football back. Too often in football team names seem to matter more than the quality of the team. Look at the folk who were predicting Brazil would win the World Cup! Or the Americans who were ‘confident’ that Man U would beat Bayern. It is the responsibility of the SPFL to market teams like Aberdeen and St Johnstone as the competition to Celtic in the SPL instead of playing the waiting game for The Rangers – who are a worse team and are still financially crippled. Yes, fan bases should be taken into account but ultimately you cannot market the league to individual fan bases and expect it to grow.
On Christmas Day the NBA always shows blockbuster games. This year it’s Heat V Cavs which is an interesting game as Lebron is back with the Cavs. Last year it would have been a blowout as Cleveland didn’t even make the play offs.
The odds for Celtic to win the league the day after being beat 6-1 on aggregate by Legia Warsaw were 1/40. Aberdeen were the closest at 25/1. If you look at the players on the pitch, the trends of the teams, the tactics, Celtic are the clear favourites but shouldn’t be by that much when they failed to win either domestic cup last year and have got worse since then. Celtic are also in the process of losing important players who are unlikely to be replaced by players of the same quality. The SPFL can market this like it’s the case to make the league seem closer instead of marketing the competition as though it is not competitive.
The Rangers are 2/5 favourites to win the Championship despite only just being promoted and having two teams that were in the SPL last season in the league with them. If Hearts had not been deducted 15 points they would arguably have finished second bottom and considering their form compared with Hibs towards the end of last season in which Hearts lost 1 of their last 8 games in the SPFL while Hibs went without a win in their last 13 games, Hearts would have been the heavy favourites to win the playoff and remain in the SPFL. So how is that a team who under different circumstances wouldn’t even be in that league second favourite to a team that has been playing against part timers for the last few years? Is it the return of 34 year old Kenny Miller following his remarkable haul of 13 goals in 43 games during his spell at the Vancouver fuckin Whitecaps?
Even if they win the Championship this season, The Rangers will factually only be achieving what Dundee achieved last season. So why can I guarantee that if THE Rangers get promoted – and its still a massive IF at this point: IF they manage to stay alive – why can I predict that in the 15/16 season The Rangers will be marketed as challengers to the title. Whatever you think of arguments such as they were unfairly put in Division 3, the reality is that the last Rangers team that was in the league failed to win the league even with international players like Jelavic on their squad. The financial position of the club at this moment in time puts them in the Kenny Miller bracket of player. So how can I predict that they will be called the challengers to the title?
What the SPFL is doing is the equivalent of the NBA trying to market Celtics V Lakers in 2014/15 because they are large market teams with a historic rivalry. It’s stupid and it plain ignores the actual game of football. It ignores managers, players, tactics and finances off the field. All it cares about is names. Scottish Football is presided over by backwards idiots and hack journalists.
The Scottish Championship is arguably going to be a closer race this year, I agree with that. However, the quality of football is a tier lower. The Hibs that everyone is excited to see next year in the 3-way race was getting pounded last year by SPFL teams. The Rangers got pounded by Dundee United in the Scottish Cup. Hearts were victims of a 7-0 pumping at home by Celtic last year. A closer race it may be, but the quality of football in those ‘top of the table clashes’ will definitely be lowers than Aberdeen v St Johnstone or Motherwell v Dundee Utd. There will be blowouts in the NBA this year and maybe Cleveland and the cowardly, glory-hunting Lebron who surrounds himself with other superstars will win a game by some 30 points. That doesn’t mean that I’d rather watch the WNBA in the hope of a fuckin buzzer beater!
The SPFL are inept. Scottish football journalists are inept. And fans buy all that garbage.