Date: 3rd March 2019
Madness, Methods and Methil
By Donald C Stewart
Innovation is clearly something we have all cried out for in Scottish football. Without expecting unicorn pitch invasions or foreign referees being welcomed we have always been open, as fans, to the sensible thoughts of those who profess to know and are often in possession of the committee spot.
When the Irn Bru Cup became a multi country platform – see what we did there? – and brought in Northern and Southern Irish, Welsh and even English teams alongside the Colt teams and Junior sides, it all seemed like a good idea.
Who would have thought it would have led to such madness?
The idea was a simple one. Scottish football traditionally likes simple – would Jim Farry or Ernie Walker have ever sanction the European Championships becoming a two tier, league, knockout, relegation and promotion fandango? It was easy to see the reasoning behind it all.
By enlarging the tournament, we could get more games, we could get more punters in, sell more pies and increase revenues at a time that clubs needed it – desperately. We would have a bigger market and the sellers of advertising space would have an opportunity to invest more and reap more rewards. It was a more methodical sell than usual as it had some hard ideas to get across but we all, by and large, bought them aiples aff the cart.
Some of us look across the Irish Sea in envy. Their season begins when it sensibly ought and ends before sense takes a holiday. Our season begins when reason dictates get inside and runs until reason runs out.
Given such a tricky seasonal fixture conundrum, any game between a Scottish team and one from the Irish League would have a tricky negotiation.
Enter Bohemians of Dublin fame.
And in the red corner, East Fife.
The two clubs struggled to agree a quarter final date and when they managed to so do it got called off just before kick off.
It got called off just 7 minutes before the first ball was due to be kicked. The pitch was unplayable and injuries could have ensued. It was right to call the tie off. Bohemians have been forced to forfeit it and the Fifers can go back to Methil and prepare for a Semi Final?
7 minutes before kick off.
We can all rush to age old jokes about the Fife taxi rolling up to the stadium for the kick off with East Fife’s entire support but let’s not.
People paid decent money, made exciting plans and followed their team; as we all do every Saturday and every season.
The opportunity to play abroad, overseas, to take the black and gold with Darren Young and the boys to a foreign field is dreamy. It’s football. It is what we all dream about. That game, the one with rewards all over it, played in difficult circumstances, against the odds and with more clichés than a Brexit press release is what we live for. For the vast majority of fans from the lower leagues who don’t even get to come 5th and enter the Europa League, this was a big day out.
I have no idea what the rules are in UEFA for European ties. I don’t know if this was the rules against which the Irn Bru Cup operated. I know that something was attempted in terms of the following day and so on but there is little doubt what ought to be done now.
The punters who made the trip, deserve more than a crate of old recipe Bru. They deserve compen. They deserve the sponsor or the SFA to get their money out and pay out to them for the dream promised and then taken away with only 7 minutes remaining on the clock before it would have happened.
SFSA have been in negotiations with the authorities on their behalf and as a true fans organisation, prove once again there is no mole hill too small to make noise around. If you think THIS is the type of things Fan’s organisations ought to be doing – all ye need to is come and join us…
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