I don’t know who Hugh Macdonald is, but if you read his article Real Facts of SPL Battle Lost in Hot Air in the style of Alex ‘Candid’ Cameron, it sounds horribly convincing – not as an argument, you understand, but an exercise in pompous self-regard. Last weekend’s Sunday Post made the methodological error we expect of foolhards, but for The Herald to suggest that the St Johnstone v Dundee game would be less of a spectacle should Celtic and Rangers find any other League willing to give them house room isn’t clever.
If Hugh MacDonald thinks that such
games would be (even) less meaningful than is current, the context of a 10 or
12 team League whereby at least half the teams would enjoy a decent chance at
winning something would add five times the significance.
He is also suggesting that the standard of football would be far worse if Celtic and Rangers left. He finds the standard shocking even though the Old Firm are still with us, so might he not pause for a second and consider there may be a causal connection? Or to put it more bluntly, the rest of the football’s rubbish because teams have to take account of Celtic and Rangers. We’re never going to beat them for skill, not in the long run, so we create untalented teams that can stifle, and they end up stifling one another. Instead, he’s saying that things are so dreadful in spite of the unrequited (and shamefully unacknowledged) beneficence of Celtic and Rangers to which he refers, and things can only get worse. Well, thanks, wir ol’ Glesca buddies – how can you stand being so good to the bunch of ingrates that the rest of us are?
The ten clubs he patronises so
sweetly may well be munchkinesque, but if I remember
aright from the making Of The Wizard of Oz, all the midget actors and actresses
were creating their own merry Lilliput Babylon behind
the scenes whilst it was the Big People who bickered and broke down and
cried. It’s Celtic and Rangers who
have seen the big silver city on the hill, and had the doors of Oz been opened
wide, you wouldn’t have seen the
Us little people are fed up with the unpleasantness
outside and inside the ground when the Old Firm come to town. We have to sit and listen to songs of triumphalism, defiance, bigotry, hatred, even – especially
– on the rare occasions they are beaten.
Either Hugh MacDonald is being a
good servant of his paper and turning up the gas a little beneath the debate
even though he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, or he really doesn’t know how
much the Old Firm phenomenon and its lickspittle apologists are loathed; but if
he read Kevin Williamson’s piece in the Herald last week, or any of Stuart
Cosgrove’s mighty words in the Daily Record, he might be enlightened. Sadly, every correspondent who has written
in favour of the move - Ian Bell in Saturday’s Scotsman was the latest – has
acknowledged that the likelihood of this happy scenario coming to pass is
negligible. Some unhappy compromise
will be reached, whereupon St Johnstone and
He is entirely correct inasmuch as the real deal concerns money far more than the idealists’ dreams of a more virtuous world, as Arnold Kemp put it so neatly in The Guardian - but, he went on, it’s hatred that makes the tills tinkle.