August has been a pretty good month for the Glasgow teams in Scottish football.
A heavy early season travel schedule and a host of injuries have not held Celtic back. Neil Lennon’s men have successfully negotiated the qualifying rounds of the Champions League to take a place in Europe’s elite top 32, with six group games against some big names now to come. And the Scottish champions have collected seven points out of nine to lead the SPL with a game in hand.
The city’s second club Partick Thistle sit at the top of the first division after three straight wins, giving early season hope that Glasgow derbies might once more be on the fixture list next season. It would be great to see the Jags back in the top flight again.
And down in the third division, new club Sevco, who are now apparently known as “The Rangers” have made a half decent start to life in league football. OK, they stand only a point ahead of Glasgow amateurs Queen’s Park. And that point was gifted to them by a referee in Berwick who saw an offence that no one else in the ground did, robbing football’s longer serving Rangers of a deserved win. But, all in all, it is still a decent start for a brand new team.
“The Rangers” can look forward to a quarter final tie in the Ramsden’s Cup – for those unfamiliar with the name that’s the one where Premier League clubs are excluded to give the wee diddy teams a chance. And “The Rangers” will also have a chance to test themselves against Highland League champions Forres Mechanics in the Scottish Cup.
I must mention here that Queen’s Park too have made cup progress, knocking Premier League new boys Dundee out of the League Cup. Beating a team three divisions above them was a tremendous result for the Spiders.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the new team parachuted into the League ahead of many long established sides though. Several of the players TUPE transferred over from former club Rangers FC (in administration) have now walked away from the club, although fortunately for them Kirk Broadfoot is one of them. Kirk hasn’t got another club; it seems he was just finding life in the fourth tier of Scottish football tough. Well, let’s face it, he’s not very good.
And despite owner Charles Green’s talk of billionaires queued up around the block, there has been no additional investment in the new club as yet. Makes you wonder how they manage to sustain a wages bill that must be many times higher than the rest of their bottom division rivals put together.
Green is also expected to spend on a host of new players before their transfer ban kicks in – the world’s strangest ban as it starts after the transfer window closes. I hope they are remembering to pay their tax bill too.
It has recently emerged that rookie manager Ally McCoist owns a block of shares in the new club. That might well make him less likely to be fired of course, which is good news for all of Scotland’s clubs as he struggles against the tactical masterminds in Division Three.
Meanwhile the winding up of the former football club seems to be taking much longer than expected. Still, there are still a whole host of legal issues to be settled – not least the recently announced Lord Nimmo Smith led investigation into many years of improperly registered players. Many people may think that the old club ended its life with 54 league titles – if they include the one shared with Dumbarton. But the final number could go down by a fair few once the inquiry is over. Lance Armstrong won’t be the only one who has a few honours taken away from him due to cheating.
And who knows what liquidators BDO will find when they finally administer the last rites to the former football club.
So there is much to look forward to as season 2012/ 13 gets into full swing. What’s the odds on three Glasgow league winners? Celtic, Partick Thistle and “The Rangers” as champions perhaps? Well here/s hoping for two out of three.
But football might look very different come next season. Talk of league reconstruction began around the time that Sevco was looking for a league place. Total coincidence, I’m sure. And apparently there is now a desire to reduce the number of divisions from four to three. Would anyone be surprised if Sevco gain from this – as another coincidence of course …
One Campbell Ogilvie has been quoted as saying that the new league set up will be designed for the benefit off all clubs. But then do we believe him? After all the SFA President is a former employee of the former club that is about to be investigated for cheating. Indeed he was not only the man responsible for registering the contracts under question, he also benefitted very substantially from tax free EBT payments himself.
But I’m sure Campbell will be able to act impartially, After all if he had a conflict of interests he would have resigned by now. Wouldn’t he?
I look forward to discussions on the way ahead for Scottish football. I’m sure many arguments will be raised for larger leagues – arguments that apparently only hold validity now for some strange reason …
And I’m really looking forward to Champions League nights at Celtic Park as the cream of Europe comes to visit. Beats the Ramsden’s Cup hands down, doesn’t it?