13 January 2008

Frost Affects the Have Nots

Ok there has long been an argument that outwith the SPL there is very little money and tightening of purse strings for other football clubs; yesterday was a great illustration of this.

It was fourth round of the Scottish Cup the day the big boys come into the competition. Seven games were postponed due to unplayable pitches due to a heavy, yet predicted frost, overnight. None of these games involved SPL grounds but three did involve grounds which meet the SPL requirement for undersoil heating. McDiarmid Park, Firhill and Almondvale homes of St Johnstone, Partick Thistle and my own Livingston.

While Partick blame the SRU (Scottish Rugby Union) groundsman who was looking after the Glasgow Warriors. However, seeing as the Warriors were over in Italy on Friday night I have no idea why the SRU groundsman would have control of the ground and the undersoil heating at that time.

What is far more likely is the widening gap in wealth between the top 12 and the rest of Scottish football. Already Livingston have not produced a Match Day Programme for their previous home cup ties against Ayr in the CIS cup and Alloa in the last round of the Scottish Cup, the same was to apply to yesterday's game against Cowdenbeath. The reason being cited is due to the smaller print run the normal special price would not apply and therefore it would run at a loss. It is a shame that many fans myself included are looking at a gap in out programme collections for this season. If we get through and host First Division in the shape of either Partick or Dunfermline will this policy change and give us possibly our first home Cup MTP on the 4th time of asking this season, as we would have been and will be producing them for these teams league visits to our ground.

The fact that three grounds that have adequate undersoil heating were unable to stage games last night is not a reason to have a winter break as across Glasgow from Firhill, Celtic pitch was playable with undersoil heating turned on, and nearby Falkirk, Hearts and Hibernian hosted a game while Livingston could not, and the weather was hardly any better in Edinburgh than West Lothian as I sampled both. Now it is probably purely down to money and cast saving that these games were off. The SPL can fine clubs for postponement but the SFA cannot due to the disparagee in facilities. For example Huntly and Cove Rangers in the Highland League can not be expected to be up to the same standard of pitch as the SPL sides.

The SPL has long been nicknamed the Self Preservation League here in Scotland and with just cause. Only one team from twelve each year will ever be relegated from this cash machine, whereas the ten team SFL leagues have one automatic relegation spot plus the perils of playoffs for the team just above. Needing to come through two 2-legged ties to remain in the same flight the following season. The financing of the leagues outwith the top flight is clearly what needs to be looked at more than rearranging season dates, of course the Turkeys in the SPL will never vote for a more egalitarian Christmas for everyone.

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