This past week saw Dundee FC file a financial plan to allow them to escape administration at the end of the season – saving the club from extinction.  Good news for Dundee fans, though other Division One teams can justifiably complain that Dundee’s excessive spending has been wiped out at the expense of the club’s creditors, and they rolled the dice with other people’s money.  True enough, but they also were hit with a 25-point penalty which has them in the relegation zone at the moment.

UEFA are trying to clamp down on the increasingly money-driven nature of the club game by imposing rules on financial management – “Financial Fair Play Rules”.  To enter European tournaments in the 2012/2013 season, clubs need to publish detailed accounts, can’t be running at a loss (including interest payments), and benefactors must make their cash available as equity, not loans.  There are a few loopholes around investments in stadia or training facilities, and the rules phase in over a few years.

All good, common sense stuff, and we could do with a Scottish variant of the same.

Last Sunday’s Old Firm game was the third meeting this season – only four more to go! – and for the second time in as many months, Celtic dominated Rangers at Ibrox.  Lennon was definitely the happier manager after the game, having come from 2-1 and a man down to tie.  Were it not for an Allan McGregor wondersave and a bad offside decision, Celtic could well have won.

The origin of the “Old Firm” brand is widely believed to be the 1909 Scottish Cup Final, which ended with the trophy being withheld by the SFA following riots at the end of the first replay.  Fans had expected extra-time to be played, but none was; they suspected the teams had conspired to produce a third game, and a third set of gate receipts – so they tore Hampden apart.

With seven Old Firm games taking place this year – for the first time in history and coincidentally when Scottish football’s finances are in as dire straits as they’ve ever been – I can’t help but entertain some paranoid fantasies that it’s 1909 all over again.  After all, if Rangers and Celtic had been kept apart until the final, there wouldn’t be any chance of a replay – the final is decided on penalties.  As it is, they can split the gate receipts from 110,000 fans between them.  At thirty-odd quid per ticket, that’s a healthy take.

The Rangers Supporters Trust has noted that the cost of seeing these seven games this season is £240.  “Not too much if you win them all,” commented one punter.  It makes me think: when was the last Old Firm game not to sell out?  My first Old Firm game was in the pre-Souness era and even back then, tickets were scarce.  Answers on a postcard, please.

Biffy Clyro – Scottish Cup Draw

I’ve always said the Carling Nations Cup was a brilliant idea [Editor’s note: no you haven’t], and on Wednesday night Scotland marched into the final with a triumphant 3-0 destruction of mighty Northern Ireland.

What?  It’s not a knock-out tournament?  Oh, right.

I’ve seen too many false dawns from Scotland teams before – gubbing Trinidad (and Tobago!) 4-1 at Easter Road in the midst of Berti’s horrific reign, or more recently under George Burley’s stewardship there was… umm… err… the 1-0 victory over Macedonia at Hampden.  I’m not reading a massive amount into a win in an almost-meaningless tournament in a half-empty stadium by a three-quarters-strength team against a quarter-strength side that should be well below us in FIFA rankings (though they were 15 places above us as of January this year).

So while scoring three goals and dominating any game is rare enough for Scotland these days, especially away from home, I won’t be getting carried away.  But there was definitely a wee spring in my step as I wandered to the bookies to bet my life savings on Charlie Adam lifting the World Cup in Rio in a few years time.

Billy

Northern Ireland v Scotland Goals