Celtic Should Be Highly Resistant To Any Further Changes To Scotland’s Cup Competitions.

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One of the things that bothers the modern fan are the constant changes to the game that we have to endure, and one of those things, and a particularly ugly one at that, popped up in England just yesterday; the changes to the FA Cup, which have done away with replays, at the behest of the clubs in the Premiership and a handful of Championships sides.

This is about three things, basically; the Champions League, the TV schedule and the demands of players south of the border. The Champions League is adding two games to the Group Stage schedule; quite how clubs are supposed to deal with those isn’t clear. The other issue is the possibility of teams who have to compete in a play-off tie; don’t forget, only the top eight teams in the Champions League’s new format go through automatically to the “Round of 16.” If you finish 9th to 24th you have to play a two-leg play-off.

So it’s not hard to see where the game could pile up for sides competing at that level; the English clubs are worried that their European aspirations will be dented by too many matches, and that’s one of the reasons for the push-back against FA Cup replays.

The TV schedule faces the same issue; how the Hell are they meant to fit all those games around the possibility that some lower-league side might force a replay if they get the first tie at home? This is the thinking behind the change, and one of the reasons that the reaction to it has been so furious amongst clubs in the Football League.

Where I have sympathy – some – is on the demands all these games put on players. The schedule has gone crazy over the last 20 years and the Champions League changes only make that worse. It’s an absurd situation made worse by the amount of international fixtures being played over the summer, which often gives players no real close-season break.

Still, the big clubs have the money and the squad sizes to cope with this. Or they should have anyway. But in order to protect them, the FA has decided to take away the possibility of replayed games from those in the lower leagues. I think it’s a pretty shocking move, and their outrage over it is very easy to understand and sympathise with.

The SFA removed replays from the Scottish Cup last year, in a similarly disgraceful move. That should be the extent of the changes we allow, and it’s actually one we should want to see rolled back. The real threat is not to the Scottish Cup but to the League Cup; the schedule has already been shuffled about to fit the current schedule and it’s facing another change with the new Champions League scheduling. There are some who would abolish it.

Under no circumstances should our club ever agree to any such thing. Nor any downgrading to the tournament so that clubs are fielding Under 21 players or anything else. Enough has changed about our footballing landscape as it is. We can’t allow any more of it.

I think our players play too many games, but that doesn’t mean that I want to see cup competitions scrapped or changed beyond recognition. I am sure that the club does not either. But you never know what the governing bodies will do, or what they will agree to if the TV companies bounce them towards it. The English FA executive committee are the ones who just changed the FA Cup and the SFA executive committee did the same with the Scottish … this is where the line should be.

Our cup competitions should be sacrosanct. UEFA clearly wants to pile ever more games onto the schedule, but that shouldn’t come at a cost to tournaments we all love. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trade a domestic treble for two more games in the Champions League; I wouldn’t sacrifice the League Cup or the Scottish Cup for a longer run in Europe.

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  • Big Wolf says:

    I never refer to UEFAs premier competition as the ‘Champion’s League’, I prefer to call it the ‘Eurovision League’ as this competition is designed to pander to the TV companies who crave the big TV audiences. Four or five places in the competition to the countries with biggest leagues and the smaller nations are thrown some crumbs. The ‘Eurovision League Final’ in 2019 was contested by two clubs who between them had not been ‘Champions’ in their country for 78 years. Champions League a mis-nomer no doubt.

    So, I agree completely James, we need to protect our competitions at home at all costs. Drawing a topflight team away in a cup competition and then getting a replay, can be worth fortunes for the minnows. UEFA, not satisfied with their continual promotion of the Elite Clubs would suck the lifeblood out of national leagues and cups for their own ends. Part of the attraction of cup competitions is the big upsets. I recall Albion Rovers leading Sevco 1-0 at Ibrox in March 2014 and the referee allowing a goal for Sevco late in the match after Mohsni had rammed the Albion Rovers goalkeeper and the ball into the net, a clear foul but Beaton awarded the goal. The only consolation for Albion Rovers was a big replay pay day.

  • Owen Mullions says:

    Have to say, I wouldn’t miss the League Cup at all. It had some novelty back in the days when it was played as a curtain raiser to the season on a group basis but now they’ve made a mess of that too and it just clogs up the schedule.

    Teams in Europe getting a bye into the last 16? Hardly a challenge to progress to the latter stages is it?

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    I’m with you on this one James…

    There was always a magic about a ‘minnow’ getting a replay at Parkhead and Paradise windfall from it…

    Many’s a great day out I had at Hampden seeing Celtic lift The League Cup and The Scottish Cup…

    I think that we need to accept regarding Europe that that organisation (UEFA) have destroyed their own competitions with the greed of money – It’s a fixed competition and it’s not fixed in favour of the likes of Celtic I’m afraid…

    Perhaps The Conference League is eventually winnable however, it’s qualifying criteria would probably mean sacrificing a title or two which no Celtic supporter wants…

    That said we could take lessons from Sevco on how to win in the most ugly shithousery way to a bit of progress in The Europa League but again has the format changed from third in The Champions League games dropping into it…

    Jeez – It’s hard to keep up with it all these days…

    PS – Off topic slightly but well done to Davie the Celtic supporter who ripped the pish out of that old (not even a half) half-wit Keevins tonight – Brilliant performance Davie – Hail Hail !!!!

  • Effarr says:

    I remember when they had the league internationals which were quite good as you had players of different countries representing the league they played in.

  • Ecky says:

    James,I don’t watch the tv at all. But I will be for today’s cup game, as it’s on terrestrial. Also could you please instead of just messaging, let us click on the players tells the media to suck eggs. Like our good wee left back almost did by the reading of it on your site. Thanks.

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