DCSIMG

Alan Pattullo: So much for romance of cup

WITHIN the space of just a few paragraphs, more tradition was swept away. Confirmation, relayed via the Scottish Football Association website, that the Scottish Cup final will be played on a Sunday from next season was bad enough.

It is the consequence of a Uefa edict to avoid a clash with the Champions League final but, buried beneath this bombshell, was an equally depressing development. The SFA’s unlikely recent zest for reform has apparently led them to believe that change is the answer to everything. Low crowds on the first weekend after New Year? Let’s schedule the fourth round, which is the much- anticipated entry point for Scottish Premier League clubs, for the first weekend in December, thereby ensuring that it clashes with the run-up to Christmas. Hardly supporter-friendly, in other words.

Crowds may well have been down this season but that surely has more to do with a draw which pitched the Old Firm teams away from home, and at grounds where the capacities are low in any case. Attendances were poor because of the combined factors of the recession and the removal of cup ties from season tickets, a practice which has done harm to a historic tournament that should be the pride of Scottish football.

What should be a must-attend day in the football calendar is now seen as an additional expense. Fans are choosing to forego a bit of romance due to financial strain. The rescheduling of the fourth round for just before Christmas is not going to change that.

Perhaps the SFA hope that parents will choose to spend their money on watching football rather than buying presents for their kids. It all feels that cynical.

Sadly, because he is clearly a football man, the responsibility fell to Campbell Ogilvie, the President of the SFA, to announce these details. He also outlined who had actually been consulted.

These august bodies were the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football Leagues, cup sponsors William Hill and the broadcast rights holders.

You don’t suppose anyone thought for a moment to ask the supporters what they might prefer?

 

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