Celtic Should Be Pushing For A Simple Change: Restore The Former League Cup Schedule.

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In his after match press conference last night, Ange Postecoglou lamented the number of games that we have to fit into a short time. I had full sympathy with him, of course, because it’s true.

There are more games than ever before. The schedule is murderous.

But Scottish Football likes making things hard for teams like ours.

One of the stupidest things that our so-called leaders have done in recent years is the way the League Cup has changed. Scheduling quarters, semi-finals and even the final itself amidst European Group Stage football … what in God’s name was the purpose of that?

If you were looking for a way to purposefully weaken either the European endeavours or weaken the Group Stage clubs for the League Cup competition this is what you would devise.

I don’t see how either is to the benefit of the Scottish game.

The changes have wreaked havoc on the schedules. And you know what else? If the purpose was to weaken our club and make it non-competitive in that arena, then it failed miserably.

We have won four out of the last five. We’re in the final for the fifth year in six.

It is an incredibly stupid, narrow minded and short sighted change.

It is now starting to do real damage to clubs, ours in particular.

Everything about it seems poorly thought out. We are the only country who would even contemplate putting domestic cup final rounds in amongst critical European group stage games. It is madness, and things need to change.

Celtic should be lobbying for a restoration of the old competition schedule and I think we’d have ample support from the club across the city. The only reason other clubs wouldn’t be banging the same drum is because their European displays have been sufficiently pitiful that none of them has encountered this problem yet.

But with the Europa Conference League some of them will, soon enough, and you better believe that the whingeing will start almost immediately.

This stopped looking like us being punished for our success seasons ago.

It now actively looks like an attempt to actually hamstrung us and perhaps Ibrox from being able to compete on several different fronts at this time of year.

It is the antithesis of sporting integrity; it is outrageous and scandalous and it is high time we went back to a saner way of doing things.

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  • Roonsa says:

    I also think Celtic has to look inwards and find out why we, more than any other team, has been affected so badly by injury problems during the season. We appointed a new director of sports science in September and it hasn’t made any short term impact.

    Before that we were riddled with injury woes every season since Rodgers joined us for the 2016/2017 season. How can we possibly have Ajeti, Giakoumakis and Kyogo all out at the same time? It’s unbelievable. Two of those players injured in the same game? Seriously? I am fed up watching Celtic play and waiting for the next player to limp off injured – the Hearts game and last night were shining examples of that expectation being fulfilled.

    Get it sorted Celtic.

    • Seppington says:

      Given the pie-and-chips fitness regime there was beforehand it’ll likely take more than the few months to see the full benefit of the new set-up. I think the way the players have been able to keep the tempo up so relentlessly is testament to an improvement there but the injuries we are seeing are I think mainly conditioning-related and that is an area that obviously is taking a tad longer to get up to standard. We’ll get there.

  • Roonsa says:

    BTW – I heard that there is a rumour doing the rounds that Jullien is finished. Talk about bad luck. Obviously I really hope that is just pish.

  • Pete says:

    Great article, spot on badly hurts us in Europe. One other solution would be the league games that are postponed for Cup games could be played in March when weather is better and nights lighter for fan safety

  • REBELLIOUS says:

    This cup schedule definitely is the root cause of all of these injuries and I 100% agree with your assertions.
    Time for the board to actually do something for their nice quarterly dividends, they should be screaming this from the rooftops. Still; we have come to expect this SHAMEFUL behaviour from a flaccid board.

  • Bigchunkylardass says:

    true, but on the other hand, what other european countries care about their national cup competition, let alone the league cup competition. Its why the european cup winners cup was retired, because Italian, Spanish, French etc clubs used it as a training match, preferring to keep their best players for the only competition that they were interested in – the league.
    Now, while those days in the sun at hampden can be fun, if we were to become a bit more outward looking, less insular, more european, then we would have 4 less games, as well as much more recovery time between the league and euro games.

    To me the league cup is just a waste of time, effort or as my son put it – its only of any value if its a part of a treble.

    The Scottish cup too, while of course i get the history etc, but if we were to treat cup competitions the same way the rest of europe does, then thats effectively up to 10 fewer games a season…..

    Seems an obvious solution to me, particularly given how we start our leagues 2 months earlier than when i was a lad, just to try and cram in all the extra games.

    Anyhows, just a thought…


    • Damian says:

      Very few European countries have two full domestic cups.

      It’s important to us this season because we were not and are not favourites for the league. Getting a trophy in the cabinet, and early, would be important.

  • John S says:

    Increasing the SPL to 16 clubs will reduce fixtures (cutting out the split-league nonsense) and enrich 4 Tier Two clubs. Placing the League Cup at the beginning of the season (almost pre-season, as it were) provides a competitive edge. I suspect the problem is the clubs themselves who want the extra fixtures and pre-season showpieces for reasons of revenue.

  • Damian says:

    So, we campaign to change back to the League Cup schedule as it was before we began to dominate the competition? It’s been back to pre-Christmas final for five seasons (this will be the sixth) and we’ve won it four times, on a few occasions without conceding a goal.

    We’re stretched because our squad depth is thin, which is an inevitable consequence of the churn over we experienced in the summer, as well as our lack of proper restructuring in our football operation (which could prove utterly deadly if we continue to do nothing). To some greater or lesser extent, all clubs everywhere experience such transitions and they will find it difficult to perform on as many fronts as possible when they do so.

    Our injury list is what it is because of a combination of this thin squad depth and the intense style of play the manager insists on. That style of play has been part of our seemingly rapid transition (at least hitherto), and so there is no point complaining about it, but it would be churlish not to take the rough with the smooth.

    To be honest, when I was listening to that press conference on the way home from the game I thought that Ange just uncharacteristically took the bait and got himself trapped in a line of argument he’s usually savvy enough to avoid.

    I’d like to see a 16 or 18 team league, with fewer league games. But, we won’t get it because the smaller clubs want to play Celtic and Rangers as often as possible for the gravy train dividend.

    But, we’ve been the overwhelming beneficiaries of the current League Cup set up; it seems churlish to argue against it.

  • Jake Hansen says:

    Just let the kids play the league cup. Yeah, the Treble is great, but European Group games are more important prestige wise and commercially. The Quadruple Treble will never be topped, so another Treble isn’t important. Play the kids.

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