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THERE was a time, just a few years ago, when one of the biggest talking points for supporters of Scottish football was which of our teams were going to qualify for Europe and which ones were going to miss out. That now seems to be a thing of the past, which is no surprise given SPL clubs' apparent lack of enthusiasm for winning a European place.
THE talk after yesterday's Old Firm match, as it is after almost every playing of the game, was how the balance of power in Glasgow had been affected by the outcome.
REMEMBER all that talk of conspiracy we were hearing a few weeks back? All those demands from Celtic for clarification and investigation? It's gone a bit quiet on that front lately. In fact, for weeks now, whole matches have come and gone without any cries of injustice or protestations of persecution.
HIBERNIAN's 2-0 victory over St Mirren in midweek can not definitively be regarded as the end of the Easter Road club's flirtation with relegation, but there are two compelling reasons for seeing it as at least the beginning of the end.
WHILE Rangers fans mourn the imminent departure of Kenny Miller, spare a thought for the followers of other clubs who have bet the striker will end the season as the SPL's top scorer.
WE can't go on like this. Sooner or later - and preferably the former - a settlement has to be reached in the dispute between the Scottish Football Association and Celtic over refereeing standards.
ANOTHER desperately poor result for Hibernian has brought more pressure on Colin Calderwood, whose record since becoming manager at Easter Road a dozen games ago is now two wins, three draws and seven defeats. But for every Hibs supporter who lambasts Calderwood, there is another who believes the wrath of the fans would be more appropriately directed at club chairman Rod Petrie.
SOME of the supporters invited to meet Neil Doncaster last week were impressed by what they heard from the Scottish Premier League chief executive. Or rather, not so much what they heard, but the fact they were hearing it face to face, in a small group. As one said, "It's almost a first for Scottish football, to get supporters talking directly with leading officials."
HAS an industry ever tried to treat its customers with such contempt? On Sunday, a survey of Scottish football supporters found that 88 per cent of them opposed a ten-team league. Yesterday, SPL officials and some leading clubs pressed ahead with their proposals for – a ten-team league.
IF Hearts are serious about challenging the Old Firm this season, they have to prove it in their next four league games. No club can win the league this month, needless to say, but, with games against Dundee United and Kilmarnock as well as matches against both Rangers and Celtic coming up, the Tynecastle side can have their hopes ended before January is out.
THERE are many grounds up and down the land where the announcer lets the crowd know what it says on the fourth official's board at the end of each half. A luminous green figure three, for example, is displayed, and the message is duly relayed: "there will be a minimum of three minutes' additional time".
IT IS taken for granted that there is a world of difference for aspiring clubs in the SPL between coming third and coming second. Finishing best of the rest is a realistic goal for four or five teams, at least at the start of the season; making it to second is often seen as a dream to be nurtured in private, but not really to be discussed in a public forum.
Referees may have the hardest job as a whole in football, but club directors surely have the single most difficult task - deciding if and when to change manager. They are not answerable for their decision in the short term, but in the end it will have a bigger effect on their club than any other act they or anyone else might make.
THE investigation into referee Dougie McDonald's reversal of a penalty award for Celtic against Dundee United has rightly been criticised on a couple of counts.
IF COLIN Calderwood was unaware of the scale of the rebuilding required at Easter Road when he agreed to become Hibernian manager, he is surely all too conscious of it now.
IF Rudi Skacel really is, as some would say, a yard slower than he was during his first spell with Hearts, that still leaves him a couple of yards quicker than his average SPL opponent. And if he's not the player he was back in 2005, what does it say about Scottish football that he can make such an impact so quickly?
COMING after almost a year of underachievement, Gordon Strachan's departure from Middlesbrough last week was not a shock. What was surprising, though, was his belief that a job lot of players from the SPL would help him revive the club's fortunes.
A JOURNEY that began 6,000 miles away and four years ago came to a triumphant conclusion for Hannah Miley, when she won gold in the 400-metres medley on Scotland's most successful day of the Commonwealth Games so far.