After 48 hours in which there has been an uneasy peace, the likelihood is that it won’t take too much to gee things up again.

In a week in which Rangers’ dossier proved insufficient to muster the required votes to trigger an independent inquiry into the handling of the SPFL’s April vote, there was a hush that seemed to descend on the latter part of the week.

What comes next, though, isn’t likely to arrive quietly.

Zoom parties aren’t quite the same as real ones, even if the champagne goes down just as easily. But if Celtic’s only concern is in muting anyone who raises an eyebrow at their 13-point lead in the table as they claim a record-equalling ninth successive title, then the plight of those at the other end is far more acute.

If there were those who questioned why Rangers voted in favour of allowing the league to be called now, then an answer can be sourced in the £7million worth of payments that will be dished out once the decision is made.

The only glass raised by Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer will be the kind that seeks to soothe a troubled soul.

One could forgive Neil Doncaster feeling the need to take a sup of something himself to get through these next few months. If the beleaguered SPFL chief executive has been emboldened by this week’s victory at the EGM, he may well feel like adopting the vernacular of the dressing room; the win was welcome but you are only as good as your last game. And his fixture list is fairly hectic at the minute.

Aside from the legal threat looming from the relegation issues, there is the concern of immediate and pressing financial matters for Doncaster to pick his way through.

From the minute that the season is confirmed, likely to be on a points per game basis, there is a negotiation to start with the broadcasters with the potential £10m bill that could be due to Sky and BT Sport.

How the broadcasters view Covid-19 and the pandemic that has poured cold water on global issues will be key to what the penalty may be. Sky were the first casualties of the lockdown; the Sunday Old Firm game

at Ibrox would have been certain to pull in meaty figures back in March. A Celtic win would have effectively secured the title, the tension of which would have been a considerable draw.

They were also signed up for the next game between the teams at Celtic Park in addition to a further nine Premiership matches. The failure to fulfil that commitment has the potential to amount to a £6m penalty. BT Sport had another 11 Premiership games to show, including six play-off games.

When it comes to getting down to negotiating a way around these figures, Doncaster will need everything he can to sweeten the deal.

The figures are big from a Scottish football perspective but shrink almost to insignificance when compared to the English market, particularly for Sky given the vast amount to be negotiated with the English Premier League. The expectation is that they may be more pliable than BT. Sky are likely to be offered some sponsorship of the league and a system of staggered payments.

A new five-year Sky deal which is worth £160m is due to kick in on August 1, the whole reason why there were a dearth of options when it came to prolonging the current campaign rather than calling it now.

BT wading into Scottish football has enlivened the coverage with a move away from Sky’s drier exposure. Last night was the final showing of Scottish Football Extra on BT, a popular show with supporters who feel they have done much to fight Scottish football’s corner with humour and authenticity.

But BT will not have forgotten Doncaster’s swipe when he suggested they “didn’t show Scottish football the love they show other leagues.”

That one might require a bit of humble pie.

For clubs, the next big question comes with season tickets. Hamilton Accies this week announced that they will not ask for renewals and there was an honesty in that given the fact that fans aren’t likely to be near stadia any time soon.

It is an admirable move but ensures a revenue stream that is cut off entirely given that renewals now are a means of support – in all senses of the word – rather than simply a ticket to a football match.

The next few weeks promise as many questions as answers once again.


As a child of the ’80s, there is envy whenever an eye is cast down the lengthy catalogue of extra-curricular activities put on a plate for my own kids.

The teachers’ strike cut a massive hole for an entire generation as school football, cross-country and netball teams slipped away. And before anyone starts with the weekend Twitter bickering, there is no implied criticism of those who rightly fought their corner for better working conditions but merely an acknowledgement that a platform to play regular sport was removed for a generation of youngsters.

Indeed, for some years it was referenced as part of a wider problem in terms of the stagnation of football. In truth, it would be one of multiple societal factors but as coaches try admirably now to keep kids up to speed with their training videos and online Zoom classes, there is still a question mark over how the lack of grassroots action may affect the game going forward.

The manner in which enthusiastic young coaches

are working their socks off to keep practise levels high with varied and interesting workouts is to be applauded but for many kids the real fun is in the socialising, in playing games with their pals and learning through all the mistakes they need to make on the pitch.

The youth season takes a break between December and March to avoid the worst of the winter. Most teams will have been lucky if they had played just two games before lockdown kicked in. It looks increasingly likely that a return to regular games won’t be viable any time before the turn of the year meaning that for the majority, a full season will have been and gone without a ball being kicked.