Last night marked the first game in the super-duper all-singing and all-dancing SPFL. However it was overshadowed by the continuing efforts of Rangers to ensure that the Ibrox outfit is the only one ever discussed in Scottish football.
In baseball Alex Rodriguez, star third base for the New York Yankees, and already an unpopular figure, lost many of his remaining supporters when his agent announced, in the middle of a game in the 2007 World Series (the Yankees had not reached the World Series) that A-Rod was opting out of his $252 million contract in an effort to get even more money. This smashed through the unwritten MLB rule that teams should keep quiet about player and in-house issues during the World Series so as not to distract attention from the sport’s showcase occasion.
Maybe the SPFL could try to introduce a similar rule here – I suspect most Scottish football fans’ attention was not on Firhill last night but, yet again, on Ibrox.
I popped on to the Rangers official website see what more might have happened, after the return of Mr Green and the attempt to oust Messrs Stockbridge, Smart and Mather.
I must confess that I laughed.
I have commented before on the nonsense which sometimes emanates from Mr McCoist’s mouth. Now, I have the greatest respect for him as he is, after all, still Rangers all-time leading goalscorer. Equally I accept that many other, indeed most, football managers talk rubbish on occasion.
However I think that Super Ally has a gift for producing statements which are so ridiculous that, like Mr Mather’s cri de couer from Thursday, cannot be meant seriously. Either that or he is amongst the most blinkered and short-sighted folk in Scottish football.
So what provoked this?
Just before we start, let’s remember that (a) Rangers are now playing in SFL2 SPFL1 the third tier of Scottish football. As part of its punishment for numerous offences against the rules of football, an embargo was imposed on them preventing registration of new players until 1st September 2013.
Rangers, in an effort to manage prudently the £22 million in share proceeds, have gone on a spending spree, signing eight new players, who cannot be registered until September 1.
My comments are in bold.
Ally McCoist admits he’s down to the bare bones as he prepares to take on Forfar minus a full team of players this weekend in the League Cup. Each of the club’s eight new recruits is ineligible for the tie at Station Park and that depletes the Light Blues squad considerably. Jon Daly, Arnold Peralta, Nicky Law, Nicky Clark, Steven Smith, Richard Foster, Cammy Bell and Bilel Mohsni will all be out of action due to competition rules.
Remember that Rangers knew about their embargo before they signed any of these players. However they have worked out that they can play some of them before September 1 by classing them as trialists. The problem with this is that the rules regarding trialists differ from competition to competition.
The greater problem is that it is undoubtedly against the spirit of the sanction imposed on Rangers that they can field any of these new signings before September 1. However the penalty was drawn in such a way (and I am NOT suggesting that this was a deliberate effort to create a loophole) that someone clever in Ibrox realised that they could field some of the new players before the ban expired by taking advantage of the rules about trialists.
Well done to whoever that was for spotting the way round the full effect of the registration embargo.
However it is wrong, or at least stretching the definition to the furthest, to blame “the competition’s rules” for not being able to field any of the eight players. Rangers cannot field them because of the penalty ACCEPTED BY RANGERS last summer!
On top of that, Kyle Hutton and Ross Perry are unfit because of ankle ligament injuries, although the latter has now had his cast removed. Emilson Cribari also looks set to miss out as he struggles to overcome the groin problem which kept him from featuring against Albion Rovers on Sunday. The likes of David Templeton and Fraser Aird could be set to come into the first XI in place of Law and Daly while Andy Murdoch joined the squad for training this afternoon.
So, as the piece notes, Rangers have eleven players unavailable. A quick look at the Rangers website shows however that the First Team squad consists of 29 players. Andy Murdoch is not listed in the first team squad, so that gives total of 29+1 players available before the evil effects of the “competition rules”.
A quick glance at Forfar’s website shows that they list 21 players, at least one of whom is injured.
In any event the League Cup allows a team to have five subs along with the eleven on the field, so they can only name 16 men at most.
McCoist said: “It’s a really, really tricky one for us because we can’t play any of our new signings at all. We had the game up at Dundee in midweek and only three of the boys who started can feature tomorrow. That’s far from ideal and it will be a really tough game. It would have been a tough game up there at the best of times anyway.
Why, Mr McCoist, can’t you play your new signings? Is it, perhaps, that we have not yet reached September 1 and therefore that none of them is actually registered as a Rangers player?
“Going up when we’re down to the bare bones again though is going to make it difficult for us but we’ll just have to deal with it.”
So Mr McCoist is forced to field players from the squad which won SFL3 at a canter, and which had, last season, the third highest wage bill in Scotland.
I bet that every single manager below the Premier League (or whatever it is called now) wishes they had such “bare bones” with which to put out a team!
You see why I laughed?
Brilliantly, on the heels of Mr Mather’s complaints about the “anomalies” in connection with penalties for entering administration, we have Mr McCoist complaining that he cannot play new players before they are registered.
It is like a convicted drunk driver blaming the fact that he can’t get insurance for stopping him driving, rather than the fact that he is still serving his disqualification!
All I can say is that, from the events of Day 1 of the SPFL season, it is going to be another interesting year in the Big Brother House in the Big Hoose!
Posted by Paul McConville