Date: 7th May 2008 at 8:35am
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Once again those running the SPL find themselves in an unenviable position with regards to the fixture congestion situation that’s threatening to, according to those inside Ibrox, hijack Rangers’ season.

Rangers owner David Murray has not been mincing his words on this issue and clearly feels that his club have been dealt a bad hand here. Now although I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with those who’ll say that Murray is simply throwing his toys out of the pram because he’s not getting his way like he normally does (some of his comments have given the impression that his club never get any favours from the powers that be, which is is a frankly laughable suggestion), he most certainly does have a point here.

The governing bodies of all footballing countries should be doing everything they can to maximise the chances of their teams succeeding in European competitions. One of the reasons that the SPL finds itself with this predicament is that some fixtures during the season were postponed in order to give the Scotland national team some extra time to prepare for their Euro 2008 qualifiers, so it’s now quite ironic that as a direct result of this, one of our club sides’ chances of unexpectedly winning a European trophy could suffer. One can only assume that at the time these matches were being re-arranged, no-one seriously considered the prospect of this eventuality, and to be honest given the poor standard of the top sides in our league (not to mention the rest of us!), it’s difficult to blame them for that, even if it is an oversight of sorts.

However the unexpected now HAS happened and although the league was already extended by four days (a decision that annoyed both Old Firm clubs), Rangers are attempting to demand more on the basis that this simply wasn’t enough to allow them a fair crack at the UEFA Cup final.

I said at the time that the initial decision was taken to extend the league that the SPL (or SFA or whoever calls the shots) were in an impossible position as far as appeasing all interested parties was concerned. If everything domestically had been settled and there was nothing to play for (league and European places already decided and Rangers not in the cup final), then the decision would be easy – Rangers could simply be given as much time as they required to prepare for their final with no repercussions. And contrary to what David Murray is trying to insinuate, I’m quite sure that our authorities would oblige – the very fact that we are in this position is a result of these people attempting to help our country, so why wouldn’t they do the same for one of our clubs?

The problem is though, that everything is NOT settled, far from it in fact, and when one of the scenarios that is still to be resolved involves a two-horse race for the SPL title between Rangers and bitter rivals Celtic, any decision made to alter how the final few weeks of the season are going to pan out immediately goes under the microscope – in the extreme.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the company of Rangers and Celtic fans, or even had the misfortune to tune into some of those God-awful radio phone-ins, will know the level of paranoia that these people have with regards to each other and the Scottish game as a whole. Admittedly as Hearts fans we have become fairly adept at this too in recent years (referees Vs Romanov, etc), but I still think we have some way to go to get near these guys when it comes to this sort of thing on such a large scale, and this is why the authorities have such an impossible situation to manage right now.

The fact is that any further decision made to accommodate Rangers’ backlog of fixtures will be seen as yet another helping hand being given to the ‘Establishment Club’ by Celtic and their fans. This is an absolute given, and the reaction of Celtic after the initial extension of the league was announced a couple of weeks ago was entirely predictable, with their Chief Executive immediately calling the ‘integrity’ of the league into question. Thousands of their fans then subsequently jammed the phone-ins complaining of Rangers bias true to form.

Had the roles been reversed here and it was Celtic in this position and the league had been extended by four days, the reaction from Rangers would have been exactly the same, regardless of their fans’ insistence that it’s only Celtic who are the paranoid ones. They’d have been the ones on the radio giving it the ‘everyone’s against us’ stories and David Murray would have been bleating to high heaven, as he’s already proved with the nature of his outburst yesterday.

So given all of that baggage, what would YOU do if you were in the shoes of the men who have the power to re-arrange the fixtures? Not easy is it? You could say that the ‘right’ thing to do would be to accommodate the Scottish team in the European final as much as possible, but then the SPL may argue that this has already been done as far as it possibly can without risking a full-scale outcry from Celtic and the rest of Rangers’ remaining opponents this season. So I’m really not sure that there is a right answer – no matter what is decided, it will always be wrong in someone’s eyes.

Speaking of the other clubs, there is also the small matter of a UEFA Cup place to be decided for the team finishing third in the SPL, as well as the Scottish Cup final after that. The likes of Hibs or Dundee United could just as easily take exception to any further fixture amendments to accommodate Rangers, citing that one of their rivals had been given an unfair advantage for the run-in. This only helps to muddy the waters further. But rightly or wrongly, for me it’s the Celtic factor that will have the authorities running scared the most, and this is the primary reason that the likelihood of any further ‘help’ being given to Rangers is so unlikely.


37 Replies to “Rangers Paying The Price Of Old Firm Paranoia?”

  • The bottom line is that Rangers have used up their share of good graces for the season. They had the Gretna game postponed so they could compete in the Champions League, they had OF games postponed so Scotland could lose to Italy, and now this. What they are talking about is extending the season so that the SC final either doesn’t get played on the day it’s supposed to or isn’t the last game of the season. Both options alone create a logistical nightmare. I don’t believe it has anything to do with Celtic, although clearly they are the loudest voice against it, it affects all the other clubs as well. Winning a quadruple is very difficult – you can’t do it with only 11 players, so they just need to get on with it and use / rotate the squad they’ve got, same as every other team has to in this situation. There is also the point of course that Rangers do little to help other Scottish clubs in Europe… many a time they have been granted a postponement by other clubs, but when they are asked themselves the answer is always a firm ‘no’. Reap what they sow.

  • Yeah that’s fair comment SJ, and let’s face it if they DID win 4 trophies that wouldn’t be a very good reflection on our game would it? I also found it incredibly arrogant the way they went about suggesting that the Scottish Cup final was moved.

  • The SPL will give into the pressure of their establishment club. The ref’s will play a vital part between now and the end of the season. Everyone at Celtic knows who is against us, and its not just the 11 men we play on the park every Saturday. Whilst i still fancy Celtic to take the league back home to Paradise i can still see ‘those penalties’ being awarded to prevent that happening.

  • It’ll be interesting to see if what you predict does actually happen. Celtic have had more than their fair share of decisions lately so if that alarmingly stops then your theory might have something in it…..

  • No, The media will let you think Celtic have had the majority of some dodgy decisions during recent weeks. But as we all know, that is another myth with the sole purpose of deception. I assume the most controversial decisions we might be talking about is the late goal that Zander Diamond had chopped off at Celtic Park not so long ago. People, for no reason other than blatantness, just miss the point here. The throw in which Aberdeen scored, was not even an Aberdeen throw in, in fact it wasn’t even a difficult call to make it was a clear Celtic throw in. Ian Brines awarded it in Aberdeen’s favour and then bottled it with the Aberdeen goal because he knew he had made a catastrophic mistake. But for the record, the whistle was blown seconds previous to Diamonds strike, which led to Boruc, Caldwell and McManus standing stationery. Had the whistle not blown Diamond might not have scored anyway. Oh and Samara’s also had two disallowed goals in that match. Have we heard the media mention this? I also want to talk about the Motherwell match at the weekend, whereby Celtic were supposed to have won due to a dubious corner. Yet there is no mention of the fact there was a handball during the passage of play that lead to Motherwell’s goal. Again, not a difficult decision to make, just a blatant handball that Barry Ferguson would have been proud of. Apologies for this rant but i thought i would inform some people who may have been misled by the Scottish press. But i do still firmly believe that Rangers will have yet more title changing decisions in the coming weeks (as always like in 2003 and 2005). The same sort of decisions that allowed them to win the CIS CUP e.g. Carlos Cullar performing wrestling heroics against a United defender and Barry “I cant be booked” Ferguson’s blatant handball against Hearts.

  • any supporter in the country when faced with allegations of bias in favour of their team will instantaneously site twice as many that have gone against them ,, but to get back to the article ,, two things spring to mind ( a ) the people that consistently botch the running of the game in this country ( SFA / SPL ) are indiscriminate in regards to who they discriminate against and ( b ) much as rangers would have you believe that they are totally blameless in this fiasco ,, they,re not !!! in cancelling a game ,, failing to have their quagmire SPL ready ,, and failing miserably to comprehensively beat inferior opposition thus adding to the pile up via replay’s which they could ill afford ,, much as I think our association’s should back any of their clubs seeking european success ,, I would assert that sir minty must accept some of the responsibility and be able to identify their predicament which his club has undoubtedly contributed to ………..

  • It’s certainly way off the mark to say that we are all of a sudden the “laughing stock of Europe” because of this. I’d say more people are simply laughing at Murray for saying this, as frankly very few people CARE about the UEFA Cup, let alone Rangers.

  • One of the benefits of supporting a rubbish Hearts side … let me re-phrase that… the ONLY benefit of supporting a rubbish Hearts side is that we have no need to look carefully at every refereeing decision to see if they all balance out – simply because it doesn’t matter. Sadly, our Celitc visitors seem to be imprisoned by the fear that their arch rivals may win the SPL, and if they do then it will be down to biased refereeing !! Whereas if Celtic win it, it will be IN SPITE OF of biased decisions. It really is refreshing and liberating to not care ….

  • I know, but let’s not pretend we don’t know where they’re coming from…we’ve been there, but we got it from all sides rather than just one!

  • Sorry, Mr H … I don’t see their paranoia as beimg the same as ours. For a team whose supporers reckon the world is against them, they seem to win a helluva lot of games and trophies. Perhaps some of their fans who post here can explain how that can possibly happen ?

  • One thing I would say on this is that yes they complain about everyone being against them, but they only seem to mention games where they get a raw deal when it’s their derby match – very rarely in matches against the rest. Funny that….

  • No i don’t think its funny at all. Can you please name me 5 games where an opposing team has been given a “raw deal” against Celtic. Specs Haver we win trophies because on a number of occasions we have been the best team in Scotland and no refereeing decisions is going to change that. When Celtic win the league, Celtic WIN the league, usually by 20 or 30 points. Its not just what happens in our games, its what does/doesn’t happen elsewhere. Di Canio was spot on when he said “the referees were against Celtic, by helping Rangers they were punishing us”. The SPL/SFA have been against Celtic Football Club since its very establishment. The SFA referee magazine used to publish characterised images of Celtic players as apes and Rangers players as handsome royalty. Looks like what i predicted was very accurate judging by the goings on of last night. McCoist stopping a throw in to allow Rangers to score from the resulting drop ball. It will be the first of many.

  • It depends what you class as a “raw deal”. Pretty much any game I see involving Celtic or Rangers against another SPL club I see evidence of referees bottling it in favour of the bigger club – it’s just what happens, mainly because of human nature rather than intentional bias I would say though. Let’s face it, if there’s any doubt in an official’s mind at all about a decision and 50,000 people scream for it to go one way, there’s a fair bet that’s the one they’ll opt for. I agree that there have been times in the past where Rangers have clearly been given a helping hand, and there are probably more examples in their favour than Celtic’s, but you guys definitely get the rub against the rest over the piece. You probably won’t agree but that’s because you are biased towards your own team as I am to mine, but any games I’ve watched as a neutral I’ve seen this sort of thing happening.

  • when the Jambos get themselves back into a challenging position we could start a league table for contentious decicision for and against Mr H ,, now that would be fun ,, would it not ? well on second thought maybe not ,, we would only argue the definition of contentious @#”%*@#

  • RK – you said that when Celtic win the league, they win it by “20 or 30 points”. I suggest you look at the league tables since 2000, mate. On the 5 occasions Caltic have won the SPL, the winning margins have been 15, 18, 17, 17, 12 … healthy margins, but not quite in the range you mention. Could it be that some of your other views are bit inflated too ?

  • Lets be honest 18, 17 and 17 is more than a healthy margin and falls very very close to 20. Celtic had the league won by Halloween last year and in 2004 went on a 25 game winning streak. I don’t think that is inflated.

  • They are indeed healthy margins – I was merely pointing out your mention of “30” as slightly misleading (inflated) when describing Celtic’s fine achievements when winning the SPL 5 times since 2000. Indeed, when you consider that Rangers 2 wins in this period were only by ONE point and GOAL DIFFERENCE, then it becomes more difficult to persuade a neutral that your team has been hard done by in this period. Sorry….

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