Why Scottish football does not need the Old Firm Derby

The face of Sky Sports’ third-rate coverage of Scottish football David Tanner earnestly proclaimed during the Scottish Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers:

“Over the past few years, some people have said they haven’t missed the Old Firm game. Frankly, they’ve been lying through their teeth.”

Here is a man who is in charge of the running the show – and nothing more – telling me (a Dunfermline fan) that I fabricate the fact I could not give one iota about a couple of sides that are an hour away from East End Park nevermind the fact they do not even play in the same league as the Pars.

What have I got to lie about. The fact that I am not a full-fledged member of the west coast media and cannot pleasure myself into a self-induced coma from all the fluff content that I can fill column inches with and spew candidly all over the airwaves.

Did Dundee and Greenock Morton fans take solace in their quarter-final defeats to the Old Firm because they could watch these two financial mammoths battle it out at Hampden Park. No.

The spectacle is special. No doubt about that. Two of Scotland’s most successful domestic sides battling for bragging rights of the United Kingdom’s most populous city north of Leeds. However, the only people that have missed it are those that directly benefit from it. This includes Sky Sports, who I am still not sure can tell that Dundee and Dundee United are two different teams.

All over the world they only care about the “big two” and not the other 40 Scottish Professional Football League entities. Then when they tune in for their four games a season fix, they suddenly become experts, and lecture to us that Scottish football suffered as a result of Rangers – the company not the club – went bust.

Well, who is lying through their teeth now. In the time that it took (four years) for the Gers to return to the top flight this happened:

Challenge Cup

Four different winners – Queen of the South.
Three first-time holders – Raith Rovers, Livingston, and Rangers.

League Cup

Four different winners – Aberdeen and Celtic.
Two first-time holders – St. Mirren and Ross County.

Scottish Cup

Four different winners – Celtic and Hibernian.
Two first-time holders – St. Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

During the SPL split era 2000-12

League Cup

Five different winners – Rangers (6), Celtic (3) and Hibernian.
Two first-time holders – Livingston and Kilmarnock.

Scottish Cup

Four different winners – Celtic (5), Rangers (4), Hearts (2) and Dundee United.

It shows that the competitions became healthier with the Old Firm divided, other teams were more likely to win silverware for the first time in their long (St. Johnstone) and short (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) histories. Although if you take Tanner’s comment made the week before the Scottish Cup semi-final:

“Four years of interruption.”

Then he probably thinks there should be an asterisk next to them because the Teddy Bears were not at full strength. Which is a lot of the annoyance. The murmurs that the four years  are tainted because those unable to run a football club believed they had a divine right to be at the big boys’ table no matter what the circumstances, and the rest just have to accept it.

The only intangible positive from Rangers dimise and revival was that it was a warning to every club that they are not too big to fail. Every club had to get there finances in check, and stop gambling against their future.

Why Scottish football does not need it is the utter nonsense that comes attached to the game. A baggage that has no place in the 21st century. Especially the bigotry and the sectarianism that brings shame on themselves and as a by product our league. This is tied in the hypocrisy of the five-year-old mentality when accused of doing something wrong to turn around and whinge: but they did this. It is bollocks saying it is about religion or politics when a large portion will not even pray and a bigger percentage knowledge of politics is how they voted in the independence referendum.

They have missed each other and nothing more. The Old Firm need each other. They are your mate down the pub after he has just broken up with their partner telling you they are better than them and do not need them. However, after six pints will be sneaked away in the corner, beseeching that they take them back.

Why does Scottish football need these sides that cannot stand the fact that if they were just down the road in Cumbria they could have the potential to earn hundreds of millions rather than just the paltry (Ha!) tens they do at present. Two teams at board level that are pleading and begging to be accepted in the Premier League and do not give a jot about the SPFL as a whole, why would I lie about that.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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