Oh,thank The Good Lord,the fitba’s back. Or is it?
Today sees Celtic kick off their campaign for a first-ever hat-trick of Scottish Cup triumphs,and that is a strange thing to think of,bearing in mind that we have won the bloody thing a record 36 times. Of course,we appeared in the final on ten occasions out of eleven between 1965 and 1975,and only daylight robbery by Bobby Davidson in 1970 stopped us doing four in a row.
(I really must get in touch wi JIMBO67 to give us his thoughts on that one,scarred him for life I reckon!)
Yet it remains the case that since Celtic were founded,only Aberdeen and a now-defunct club have won three cups in succession. The Lisbon Lions and their immediate successors couldn’t do it,nor could our record-breaking team of the first decade of the 20th Century. The latter may well have done so,but the cup was withheld in 1909 due to a riot between opposing fans.
So,with 53,000 season ticket holders and a worldwide diaspora,everyone will be champing at the bit to see our heroes going for glory,a glory which could help us towards another first-a Rebel Rebel Treble Treble.
Maybe not. As is so often the case,events dear boy. Our game today actually takes place tonight,kicking off at 1715,a time when most of us who have been at the game are usually halfway through our second pint and our third argument about the merits or otherwise of the performance we just watched. It will finish around 7pm,which pretty much wrecks any chance of a pleasant evening with the other half. And I think that will be one of the reasons why this game is unlikely to achieve an attendance into five figures.
That and it being against Airdrie. And of course,it is live on the telly.
Which brings me to another point. Not only has the SFA sold rights for live coverage on a Saturday and Sunday lunchtime,not only have they sold the rights for a Friday night and a Saturday evening,they’ve sold them to a tuppenny-hapenny outfit that no-one has heard of. Most,admittedly,are on BBC but guess what? Not ours.
Probably the most attractive league for the discerning football fan over the last decade or so has been La Liga;Spanish football has consistently been of a high standard,with the finest footballers of this or many generations on display. Sky had the rights for years and had to pay through the nose three years ago to prevent BT Sport from stealing their prized possession. This time round,the decision was taken to award the rights to Eleven Sports,another company of dubious origin and seemingly without a game plan on how to market the product,or even how to get people to pay for the privilege.
El Classico used to pack the pubs out of an evening. How many people do you know who saw the last one? It used to be a major point of discussion the following day,this time round we couldn’t find anyone who could even tell us the score.
Tonight’s match is live on Premier Sports. I have no idea whether that is available on an ordinary tv or whether it is streaming only. I do know that it is a premium cost,another cost to add to the price of a season ticket,a subscription to Sky Sports and BT Sports. As well as one-off ticket costs for cup matches.
Football is a consumer-driven product. The idea is to appeal to the loyalty of the fans who will buy season tickets and turn up on the day to hit the superstores and snack bars. On top of that,there is the armchair fan,paying in excess of £1000 a year to watch the best games in the best competitions.
I suggest that tonight is testing the loyalty of the most committed fan,and I predict a crowd of around 8,000. 7pm finish on a freezing Saturday night in January? Aye,great planning. If the stats prove me wrong,I’ll freeze frame it and count them if necessary!
And I’ll be absolutely astonished if even that paltry number coughs up to Premier Sports to watch it in the comfort of their home.
The greed of the clubs and the SFA has backfired here. They have provided a product which too few are interested in,and on a platform which too few are even aware of. Sunday won’t see people in the pub trying to find out details of El Classico,it will see them trying to find out the Celtic result. In the SFA’s flagship trophy which they themselves have torpedoed.
Above article welcomes back the moniker BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS. You can have a rant here for free by mailing Mahe on