Date: 21st March 2020 at 1:54pm
Written by:

This morning, Stephen Halliday of The Scotsman wrote an article slamming Celtic where he opened on how the teams in UK-wide Elite Ice Hockey League have just voted 10-0 to void the season although there are only six games left in the campaign.

And you thought Alex Rae’s horse-racing comparison was bad, right?

The average attendance for an EIHL game is a little over 2500.

There were four teams in contention for the title when they closed down their ludicrously expansive 50 plus game campaign; the top sides had all played a different number of games and there were only a few points between them.

Picking an actual winner out of that would have been a minefield.

Football in Scotland is a cornerstone industry. Peter Lawwell talks about this, often with some exasperation, when our political class fails to grasp it. The average attendances in the SPL far outstrip the number of fans who watch professional hockey … our game’s revenues dwarf it and particularly as regards our TV deals which are paltry compared to those in England but which would be transformative if even a fraction went to niche sports.

Halliday says that clubs need to put aside their “vested interests” in an open reference to us, but also to Hearts, Sevco, Dundee Utd and other sides who have a lot at stake.

I might not agree with some of those clubs and their stance – some are shamelessly using this as an opportunity to dodge consequences or pander to their fans – but for others this is a deadly serious moment and if they aren’t looking at their own situations they are failing their fans, their shareholders and the wider game.

Appeals to “vested interests” are what we need.

The game is in crisis, the greatest in its history. How does Halliday expect clubs to react?

Celtic are the provisional league champions; we have a 13-point lead.

No club in such a position would willingly walk away from that, or could face its season ticket base or shareholders afterwards, especially as the regulations allow for a shortened season in exceptional circumstances and state that the league champions are the team who finish top of the SPL.

Scottish football is in a whole big heap of trouble here.

Clubs are already floundering.

Others are almost certainly putting in the place the measures that will be all that prevent them from going to the wall.

It will be a minor miracle if we haven’t lost one of them by the time this crisis even starts to abate. It is high time some took that seriously.

We do need solutions, and I realise that none of them will be perfect … but you know what?

Only one of them will be in keeping with the rulebook. Only one of them will have sporting integrity at its heart. You are judged on the games you won, drew and lost … true merit, right at the end. How anyone can argue for voiding the lot of it is beyond me.

Far from robbing a handful of clubs it robs every single club.

If giving Celtic the title they had as good as one robs Sevco of a challenge, how does that equation change by voiding the league? The challenge is still gone, the opportunity snatched away. It may keep Hearts in the league but how is that fair if it spares the underserving and punished Dundee Utd?

Is their financial position worth less consideration than that of Hearts?

Does sporting integrity only affect one and not the other?

All of this is nonsense. Self-interest will hold here, of course it will, but all the governing bodies can do is go back to the regulations and see what’s in there to work with, and as this site and others have explored many times there is a way to end this quick, and clean, to remove uncertainty, to pay prize money, to confirm the shape of next season and hope we get it started.

Or we can spend months like this, slinging mud, sniping, creating uncertainty and chaos which, believe me, will be of no benefit to anyone else at all.

Lawwell is correct; talk of voiding this season is a lunacy that the game here cannot afford to indulge, not even for a minute. The effects, both in the short and long term, will be absolutely catastrophic.

Clubs will die because of it. Fans will chuck it. Sponsors and TV companies will sue. How are we to choose European qualifiers?

Those advocating it couldn’t care less about the wider sport, and those taking shots on their behalf need to understand that these people would burn Scottish football to the ground, happily, to get their modest triumph.

Then there are the village idiots like Nicholas, who bang on about finishing the season as though that were even remotely possible, and who in their own way are advocating the very scenario being promoted in Sevconia and elsewhere.

It is the height of irresponsibility and stupidity.

It is time the media stopped giving this ridiculous, uninformed, pig-ignorant nonsense airtime.

It is time the adults entered the room.