Five biggest gripes with the post-split fixtures

The SPFL were keen to avoid an Old Firm title-decider. Picture: SNS
The SPFL were keen to avoid an Old Firm title-decider. Picture: SNS
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Football fans love to moan and, in fairness, the Scottish Professional Football League does it make it easy for them to do so.

READ MORE - SPFL have shown ‘disrespect’ to Hibs with post-split fixtures

Here are the five most complained about things since the fixtures came out yesterday...

The lengthy delay

Prior to the fixtures being announced, the SPFL posted a teaser tweet from the official account to alert the impatient public to their impending arrival. You can gauge the general mood by looking at just a handful of the 160 replies, which included the likes of “delete your account” and, simply, “f*** off”.

Fans were justified in their frustration. The fixtures actually came out two days earlier than this time last year, but with the season ending sooner it’s actually much later in the football calendar. In fact, last year they were announced before the final round of pre-split games took place.

The Old Firm derby indecision

The major difference between this season and the last one - or the previous four, in fact - is that there is a possibility of Celtic and Rangers meeting in a title-decider. The league and authorities wish to avoid such an outcome wherever possible. They appear to be forever scarred by the scenes during one such encounter back in 1999.

Unfortunately for the league, it’s not just a case of negotiating with the league but the TV companies as well. To Sky Sports, a potential league decider between the two clubs who bring in the most revenue is exactly what they want, while at the same time being Police Scotland’s worst nightmare.

To the fans of the other ten clubs it’s just another example of the fixation with the two biggest sides in the country.

The fixture imbalance

This one rears its head every year. Sometimes the league gets lucky and everything aligns so that all clubs get an even split of 19 home fixtures and 19 away ones, though even then there are complaints because one or two sides typically have to travel to a particular ground for the third time in a season in order to make it happen (Kilmarnock and Ross County being two such examples this term).

On this occasion things have not worked out so neatly (that’s definitely the wrong word to use). Hearts travelling to Ibrox for a third time means they’ll have an imbalance of home and away games, playing away from Tynecastle 20 times. While the club didn’t quite lambaste the league over this in an official statement released yesterday, they did call it the “least unacceptable option”.

The lack of bottom six coverage

Once again the final day of the season in the bottom half of the table will not be televised. This is despite, at this moment in time, there being a possibility that one of four clubs could be relegated. Understandably, the TV companies want to show matches with the bigger fanbases in order to generate better viewing figures, so it’s imperative that the new TV deal, when it’s agreed, makes sure that the relegation battle is properly covered in future seasons.

Hopefully it’s a case of BT Sport having one more game up their sleeve and waiting to use it on the final day when they know where the relegation battle will take place. Although, they tried to do that before in 2014 when Kilmarnock travelled to Hibs and the hosts said “no” because there had already been a full quota of games broadcast from Easter Road.

The kick-off times

Ross County fans will find it very difficult to travel to either of their side’s games against Hamilton Accies and Patrick Thistle in consecutive weeks, other than getting a supporters bus, due to “anti-social kick-off times”. Both are to be broadcast live, but when your survival in the top flight is hanging by a thread it’s not quite the same to shout and scream at the television.

Hearts and Hibs will also have the curious distinction of playing all four league derby matches this season at night as Neil Lennon’s men visit Tynecastle on Wednesday 9 May. Supporters appreciate games under the lights, especially the bigger ones, though it begins to loose its lustre when it happens every single time.

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