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Spartans 0-0 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup (Betfred Cup) Group H, Ainslie Park, 14/7/18.

And so it begins again. It only seems yesterday that we lost the play-off final yet here we are again, playing competitive football.

Well, I say competitive, but this had all the feel of a pre-season game. Given it’s mid-July and the World Cup hasn’t even finished yet that’s not so surprising.

We never looked in danger of losing a goal, though. But nor did we look much like scoring in the first half. Things improved in the second when we looked to raise the pace a bit and especially when Andy Little and Calum Callagher came on for Iain Russell and Ryan Thomson, both looking much livelier than the pair they replaced.

It was an odd sort of game not helped by the sunshine (football in Scotland isn’t meant to be played in such temperatures) and a clash between our new away strip’s red shorts and those of Spartans meaning we came out wearing the new black home shorts with the new away red shirts. We looked like a Brechin City tribute act.

And so to award the bonus point to separate drawn teams we went to a penalty shoot-out. We won. Only the second time I’ve seen us win one.

Another Sons fan gaily remarked afterwards that the last time we won a shootout (the one I saw) we went on to win the league. Early days, son. Steady on.

Still there were signs the new players were beginning to gel. I liked the fact that former (and new again) Son Ross Forbes kept demanding the ball in midfield. We also seemed to change formation a couple of times throughout the game. That’s a potentially good innovation.

And so my first visit to Ainslie Park passed off relatively quietly.

League Cup Fixtures

The fixtures for Sons League Cup Section (Group H) have been announced. These are only about six weeks or so away!

First up is a trip to Ainslie Park, a new venture for Sons as we’ve never played Spartans before. Then two home games in the space of four days before a week’s break and a trip to Paisley.

It All Starts Again

This didn’t take long in coming round.

Not even a fortnight after the play-off final Sons now know who they will play in next season’s League Cup*.

And it’s a tough draw, with two top tier sides in the section in Kilmarnock (whom we played in the same competition last season) and newly promoted St Mirren (familiar to us from the last two seasons in tier 2) alongside Queen’s Park, just relegated to the bottom tier, and non-league Spartans.

This will be Sons’ first competitive fixture against Spartans and might be a chance for me to pick up yet another Scottish football ground I’ve not yet visited. That depends on whether the game will be at home or away. Each team only plays the other once.

*Betfred Cup if you must

The Death Of Scottish Football? 3.

I’ve posted about their sheer damned nerve before. Twice over in fact.

But now we see it in all its naked self interest.

These proposals are not to the benefit of Scottish football as a whole.

They would do nothing – absolute zero – to improve the national team’s efforts to qualify for major championships.

They would do nothing to further the development of young players – quite the reverse: their appearance in first teams would be much less likely.

Neither would the base of the game be widened and strengthened. It would almost certainly mean the demise of the current SFL clubs who have little chance of ever reaching Division 1, far less the SPL. By and large these clubs live within their means and on occasion turn up players whom the bigger clubs have missed. They also have dedicated fans (albeit in small numbers) who are passionate about their allegiances and would be lost to the game if their clubs were to go under.

Any clubs who aspire to SFL membership will not gain from this either as very shortly there wouldn’t be an SFL to aspire to. The new SPL2 won’t let the likes of Spartans in, you can be sure of that.

What the proposals might do is ensure that the Old Firm continue to receive the lion’s share of television exposure – and monies – and entrench the current imbalance that is the true source of Scottish football’s malaise. (Two teams win most of the competitions and the rest barely get a look in.)

They will also make sure that the SPL1 and 2 is in fact a closed shop.

The SPL says it has canvassed thousands of Scottish fans about these proposals. Well; nobody asked me.

A discussion on the fan site Pie and Bovril did direct me to a survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) after the proposals were announced, but this isn’t connected to the SPL, I believe. Just in case it is I urge you all to access this and opt against anything similar to an SPL1 and 2.

And as for regionalisation below the SPL, that would largely deprive me of the chance to watch my team as I no longer live in its area. At the moment I can attend lots of away games; under regionalisation that would probably change. From being a frequent attender at matches, I would become more or less a stranger to Scottish football.

The suggestion that SPL reserve teams should play in the regionalised league below SPL1/2 is simply outrageous. They had a reserve league of their own and disbanded it. Let them set it up again or else loan their reserves out to gain experience. Do not sully a totally different competition with teams you can’t be bothered to cater for otherwise. Foisting them on someone else is more than high-handed. It smacks of bullying.

I can’t tell you the despair that these proposals have engendered in me. Quite simply, without the prospect of promotion and relegation throughout the Scottish football system – I am by no means against a pyramid coming into being provided that there is a suitable league for demoted SFL clubs to play in – but, remember, for most of those located in West and Central Scotland there isn’t at the moment – then there is little point in carrying on.

The main things that would free up the current arrangements and lessen the staleness that abounds are either

1. immediately increasing the available promotion spots from SFL1 to the SPL, or

2. getting rid of playing teams four times a season (in other words increasing the size of the various divisions.)

That last would probably mean only one SPL league and two SFL divisions.

I do hope the teams at the top of the SFL Div 1 won’t be seduced by the mere possibility of games against the ugly sisters that they will go for this.

In fact, they’re probably going to do better in attendance terms if they are doing reasonably well in the SFL than if they were struggling in the SPL.

The response of the SFL to all this ought to be, “Two words; seven letters; three of them ‘f’.”

The Death Of Scottish Football? 2

The sheer cheek of it is unbelievable.

First they demanded and got a smaller top division; “to help them in Europe.”
Then they demanded and got to keep receipts for home games instead of the previous split.
Then they demanded and got effective control of their own league.
Then they started scrabbling around to play anywhere but here – England, the “Atlantic League.”
All in the search for more and more money to stuff their own coffers.
(And in Europe they still haven’t bettered their achievements under the old system they wanted rid of in the first place.)

Now they scrap their own reserve league but come up with the suggestion that their reserves should join the SFL Div 3.

They’re not advocating it for our benefit you can be sure, only for theirs.

Why should they even be talked to, still less accommodated? Why should they be granted a place in Div 3 when clubs like Spartans, Cove, Edinburgh City and Preston Athletic desire to get in – and have a better claim on a place? Why scrap your reserve league if you still want to have a reserve team?

In the words of Chewing The Fat, “I smell shite.”

Go away. Just go away. Go to England and see if they’ll have you. Go to Holland. Go To France.
Take your moaning-faced insufferable “fans” with you. See how they’ll like you never winning anything for years on end and not even having a sniff of Europe like the majority of English clubs. See how loyal they’ll be then. (A damned sight less than those inured-to-disappointment fans of SFL clubs, you can be sure.)

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