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Celtic’s Post-Split Possibilities Reveal The Scandal Behind This Year’s Fixture List.

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Since the start of the season, one thing has bothered me looking at the fixture list; the way in which we had to play at Pittodrie, Tynecastle, Easter Road, Ibrox and Livingston in the first series of games, which guaranteed that we would need to visit all those grounds again in the third series.

The reason this is so infuriating is that Ibrox has the reverse fixture list.

And that means, of course, that when the split comes although technically we should have the easier run that Ibrox will, in all probability, dodge at least one tricky away tie that they would have otherwise had to play … and we’ll end up back somewhere we’ve already been twice.

This is probably the most weighted post-split fixture list I’ve seen since the damned thing was introduced, and it is confirms the ludicrousness of the whole thing.

At the moment, we don’t know what the post-split fixtures will look like, of course, but we should presume that it’ll be us, Ibrox and Hearts filling half of the spots.

It’s who fills the rest which makes this a tricky situation. Right now Motherwell and Hibs are doing just fine, along with Dundee Utd … but that could change to see either Aberdeen or Livingston there too.

So what would the fixture list look like, if things were as they stand right now? A team can only play a maximum of three games at home, with two away or three away and two at home.

If things finish as they are at the moment we should have home games against Ibrox, Hearts, Motherwell and Hibs.

Realistically, we’re not going to get that.

Dundee Utd have been to Parkhead twice, so there’s no danger of a change there; we’ll be at Tannadice for one of our away games. But it means that we’ll also be either at Tynecastle, Easter Road or Fir Park as well.

And that’s if things stay as they are.

But if Aberdeen or Livingston make it, we could be facing a third away game at one of their grounds. See, the way this stands right now we will have played every one of the top eight twice away, save for Dundee Utd, before the split happens.

And if Dundee Utd don’t make it and the split ends up Celtic, Ibrox, Hearts, Hibs, Livingston and Aberdeen – as it could – we will visit two out of them, Ibrox excluded, three times in the campaign.

And that is just absolutely shocking.

The corollary to that is that Ibrox is supposed to visit Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs, Celtic, Motherwell and Livingston away.

They will certainly not have to do so, with at least one of those matches certain to be switched to a home match. Dundee Utd are a home game anyway as they’ll have been twice to Tannadice when the split comes.

But if Dundee Utd don’t finish in the top six, then the reverse scenario which Celtic face will accrue with the Ibrox club; they will play two games at home from Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs, Motherwell or Livingston which ought to be played away.

In the interests of something approaching basic fairness, you want Dundee Utd to keep on playing and make the cut … but Aberdeen have a game in hand over them in seventh, and one point separates the teams. Aberdeen – technically – has the tougher run-in, but anything could happen here and in the scenario where United don’t make it you have an ending to the season which might come down to a handful of points where the final fixtures give one side – and not ours – a marked advantage.

And it won’t even be close to something that can be defended.

The SPFL “blurb” says of the split that “We generally aim for the fewest switches possible and try to avoid reversing fixtures that have a key impact on the league title.”

Well, when you give one side two additional top six away games and their direct rivals two additional top six matches at home how the Hell can you claim, with a straight face, that it might not have an impact on the title race? There is one point in it.

Even in the scenario where Dundee Utd makes it, the plain fact is that they will get an extra game at home against one of the other sides whilst we’ll play an extra game away.

As I said, I’ve never seen a fixture list so slanted as this one has been with the sides who’ve consistently been in the top part of the league all playing at Ibrox twice in the first 33 games.

Amazingly, the press appears to have finally twigged to this, a scenario which myself and some of the other Celtic sites saw coming a mile away and which I wrote about in an article some time ago, when I made my argument that the winter break should be brought forward, pointing out that the split was already going to advantage Ibrox and that we couldn’t be further punished by playing a critical game in front of no fans when the corresponding fixture had been played at a full house over there.

The split was very much an issue I was thinking about – and said so – at the time, but the full picture, which I was intending to write about this week, is of course now even more ridiculous.

Whilst it’s good to see that this matter is finally getting some national coverage – and hopefully a proper discussion about how ridiculous and potentially corrupt it is – it’s being treated as if it’s a headache for the governing body, as though it doesn’t affect clubs at all.

If the “computer” really is random, it has picked one Hell of a selection in their favour, and no mistake about it.

The only moderately difficult away matches they faced in cycles 1 and 3 are Perth – and in a year when St Johnstone are having a shocker – and Tannadice, and that’s only considered a tough one because they lost there in their first defeat this season.

For all that, Celtic has already been to Tynecastle and Motherwell on this cycle and we’re about to go to Aberdeen.

That leaves Hibs, Livingston and Ibrox still to visit before the split … but we’re almost halfway to the prize and looking very strong, and whilst there’s no reason to believe that we won’t do it, the scandal of the split and what it means makes it harder than it should be.

There is no “sporting integrity” in this little farce.

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22 comments

  • Mark B says:

    Its not that fair but my view is simple. If we want to win the league having an extra trip to Hibs or Hearts or Aberdeen we at Celtic should be able to win. If its go one more time to Tynecastle and and win and you win the league we should be able to do that. The rest of the teams in this league are way WAY weaker than the top 2. What please dme most last couple of week is not them dropping points against weaker teams but us showing we can beat them – it had been over two years and we needed to show that. If we lose twice to them we will not win the league – so its essential we get at least one victory in my view.

  • Paul says:

    If you still think a computer does the fixtures randomly you are stupid.
    If it was random, how come all the Derby matches are played on the same weekend?
    If we are denied 2 home games, who gives the refund to our ST holders? As you are paying for 19 homes games on your. Do you need to email the club and ask for a refund?
    Will the club get onto the SFA/SPFL to complain & yo gwt them to cover the costs of refunds & loss of earnings

    • Droopy McCool says:

      We still play 19 home games! The reason the fixtures get switched is so that you play 19 at home and 19 away. It has always been like this.

  • Henry Machon says:

    Never expect fairness from a corrupt SFA that has shown its Anti-Celtic ways. Celtic must rise above all this & our board start growing a pair. Their silence is deafening in mattersVs SFA & the Systym.

  • Pan says:

    Even the makers of the FIFA game don’t understand it.
    Every other country in the world must be looking and laughing at our backward little country.

  • Pan says:

    The computer is not random.
    The programmer is very much alive.

  • Roonsa says:

    Wait a wee minute, James, one thing at a time. You are getting upset about something that hasn’t happened yet. Last week you told us that Celtic were addressing the Kris Boyd issue. Since then we’ve not heard a dickie bird and his appearance on Sky at the weekend confirms he has not been sanctioned in any way.

    Are we just gonnae take this guy’s pish every time from now on?

  • Saulgoodman says:

    Don’t worry League will be as good as over before the split !

  • Seppington says:

    Split is dumb, end of. I wish they’d just expand the league to 16 and play twice. Less games would help given the farce that ensues when there’s bad weather call-offs. If you need a split for “drama” do it at the half way point once everyone has played each other home and away. No advantages gained, all fair, and give a bit more security to clubs. When you’re clinging on for dear life to avoid relegation you’re not going to try and play creative entertaining football but you will sit 11 men behind the ball and give your fans nothing but turgid pish.
    They all complain about thae quality of product but do bugger-all to improve it.

    DE-FUND THE SFA/SPFL

  • Pcelt says:

    Why worry whom we play now,we are capable of beating any spl team home or away.

  • Justshatered says:

    I’ve seen this scenario coming weeks ago.
    If we do manage to win the title this year then it will be one of the most impressive in years considering we started with half a team and a third of a squad.
    To assemble and integrate all of those players and form a effective attacking unit while playing all top six teams away twice and yet be sitting top of the league is remarkable.

  • Stewart says:

    No matter what way it goes itl end up favoring sevco,,

  • Lordmac says:

    Rangers will always receive the extra home game, they never have failed yet they don’t need Celtics support as they. Resold our away stand to 20,000 new fans at Ibrox as a season book and that got them more money than they made on the sale of away Celtic tickets the days of away fans at Ibrox are over due to a full house on a season ticket

    • Michael McCartney says:

      7000 Celtic fans were allowed into Ibrox whilst 10,000 Rangers fans were allowed into Celtic Park so Celtic win from this ongoing situation.
      I also think that our team can cope with no away fans at a full Ibrox a lot better than the Rangers players can at a full Celtic Park As was proven last week.
      This situation was not of Celtic’s making and its up to Rangers to decide if they wish to act sensibly and allow Celtic fans back to the away end at Ibrox. If not then C’est La Vie.

    • Roonsa says:

      Rangers?

  • John S says:

    Increase the league (play each other twice).

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Like you James I noticed as soon as the fixture list came out last June that there was the likelyhood of a problem in the post split fixtures. With Celtic due to visit Rangers, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Motherwell and Livingston in the first tranche of 11 games and the third tranche of 11, the chances of the system working against Celtic were clear.
    Luckily I agree that Big Ange has got his team playing so well, that I think we can overcome anything the anti Celtic administrators and officials can throw at us.
    That’s why the celebrations will be even sweeter when we are crowned champions this season.

  • Martin says:

    Bets on us getting an extra away game to Hearts and them getting Aberdeen (if they make the cut) at home?

  • Stephen McAdam says:

    I said this a while ago also and we have to play at that disgrace at livingston twice where der hun dont, yeah they may make top 6 that wasnt the plan! Corrupt to the core! But we know this. The league really should have 14 teams with a split of top 7 playing each other twice home and away it’s so f@$king logical! Play all teams twice before home and away gives you 26 games then a split of 7 give 12 games home and away ,that be so much better and rid us of hopefully more plastic pitches tho surely that has to be sorted before likes of kilmarnock come up, disgrace they are allowed total embarrassment

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