Saturday, 9 August 2008

Tragedy & Farce, The Season Starts Here…

The Scottish football season gets in full swing tomorrow, with the start of the Scottish Premier League season, its 10th under the SPL banner, and there are dark clouds hanging over it. The tragedy comes with the news of the death last week of the esteemed broadcaster, Journalist, former school-teacher and Brains of Britain winner Bob Crampsey. The thing that I will miss the most is the knowledge and the precise ability to place any event in the mad world of Scottish football in its place in the grand scheme of things. This is something that most pundits who comment on Scottish football can't do without resorting to hyperbole.

The farce element to the build up to the new season comes in the shape of Rangers embarrassing European Cup exit at the hands of FBK Kaunas. How embarrassing? Well only the late Mr. Crampsey knows. It's not the first time that Rangers & Walter Smith have crashed out of Europe before the end of the Summer holidays, remember AEK Athens in 1994 (When Smith had just signed Brian Laudrup and Basil Boli) and then there was IFK Gothenburg in 1997. Rangers, under Smith, have also crashed out in the early stages of European competition to the likes of Sparta Prague (1991/92) and Levski Sofia (1993/94).

This is of course a major embarrassment to Scottish Football and Rangers, though there is the financial consideration of losing an estimated £10 million from failing to make the "Champions League" stage of the European Cup. However if you ignore the crisis headlines surrounding Ibrox, you will see that this may be a blessing in disguise.

Of the examples mentioned above, Rangers went on to claim at least the Championship in every season bar the 1997/98 season (IFK Gothenburg). More recently, when eliminated from the UEFA Cup in 2002/03 by Viktoria Zizkov in the 1st Round, they went on to claim the treble of Championship, Scottish Cup and League Cup, though Celtic's march to Seville might also have been a contributing factor here. This is why I think that if Rangers can shake off the hangover from last season quickly enough, they will regain the Championship from Celtic, by a margin of between 4-6 points.

Elsewhere, Motherwell and Dundee United will fight it out for 3rd place, I take Dundee United to finish 3rd. The mighty Buds will continue the painfully slow progress that we have made by finishing 9th. I'm not really sure if moving stadiums mid season is a help or a hindrance, I just hope that it doesn't backfire. The Relegation issue is perhaps the closest to call. If Hamilton Accies go down, it will be down to a lack of experience at the top level. Having said that, I don't think that they will go down. I would say that Inverness or Kilmarnock are more likely candidates for the drop.

Whatever happens, hopefully season 2008/09 will be as eventful as last season. Oh, and i hope we win on Sunday!

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