The SPFL Premiership – an out-of-date catastrophe

Date: 14th April 2015

WHAT a weekend of sport we had, not only as football fans; but as sports fans.

The Crabbies Grand National, the Masters in Augusta, football matches up and down the country, including south of the border, as well as Pro12 rugby and Andy Murray’s wedding. OK, so the last one doesn’t really count.

However, we are — obviously — going to focus on the football, and in particular, Scottish football.

Dundee secured their place in the top half over the weekend, while Hamilton Accies dropped out as their post-Alex Neil slump continued. 33 games played this season, 13 under Martin Canning now, and Accies sit on 43 points, meaning they miss out on that coveted top-six finish.

For a team that came up from the Championship last year, it still is a successful season, despite the promise they showed earlier in the campaign.

However, the league split which occurs at this stage of the season is still a hateful, puzzling conundrum to me.

For all we know, Accies could win their final five games of the season, while Dundee could lose their final five, and Accies would finish 14 points better off than Dundee, but still remain a place below them in the table.

I can’t understand how the league bosses find this to be acceptable. Yes, they have listened to the fans, as well as the clubs, in restructuring the league formats, but it’s still such a crazy set-up. Although some might say how Accies might win their five games because of the teams they have to play, and Dundee might lose their games because of the teams they are to face, but at the end of the day this is the way it is because of how poorly the league is set up.

In my opinion, there should only be two tiers — Premiership and Championship. Playing some teams in the league three, and sometimes four, times a season is too much — and that’s not even including Cup matches. It gets so repetitive and to be honest, I’m sick of seeing the same matches week in, week out.

We only have to look at this season when Celtic played Dundee United four times in two weeks — and that was before the split!

Of course, that was a bit of a bad-luck story, considering one match was a replay and only one of these fixtures was actually in the league, but the premise is the same.

The fact of the matter is, teams should only be playing each other twice per season in the league – once at home and once away. It’s how it’s done in knock-out competitions, it’s how it’s done in the best leagues around Europe and it’s how it should be done.

I’m not entirely sure how every team and its board feels about the split; some may enjoy playing the same time three times and another team four times in the league, while some teams may only want to play each team twice a season.

However, from speaking to fans in the past, I’ve got a general sense that fans don’t like the split for the reasons cited throughout this piece.

Reform and restructuring has taken place in the leagues over the last few years, but it is not enough. To have a fair league, it has to be fair in that teams should only be playing each other twice a season — home and away — not home, away, home, or away, home, away; there isn’t anything fair about that.

Scottish football is lingering behind the top leagues in Europe when it comes to being fair to the clubs, to the fans. More change needs to happen, otherwise Scottish football could be stuck where it is, with no hope of catching the rest of the continent.

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