Thursday, October 9, 2014

A helping hand to those in need

It's not been much of a fortnight for Rangers.

Last Monday, they crashed 3-1 at home to Hibs, a result that leaves them six points off the top of the Scottish Championship.  Ally McCoist's subsequent claim that finishing second to Hearts and then winning promotion via a playoff was perfectly acceptable fooled absolutely no-one.

There was at least a return to winning ways at Livingston at the weekend, although the 1-0 victory was perfect in the view of every non-Rangers fan - not impressive enough to suggest that the team have turned the corner, but a positive result which means that the utterly inept McCoist will remain in his job for at least a while longer.  Off the pitch, things were less rosy, as fans had an altercation with police in the ground and five were eventually arrested.  Mind you, the press seemed to think a few cheeky notes in the Livingston programme were far more outrageous than criminal behaviour, judging by their coverage.

And then this week has seen the ante upped in the boardroom as Mike Ashley, not content with being detested by the whole of the city of Newcastle, displayed his intentions to add half of the city of Glasgow to that list.

At least Rangers don't have to worry about an embarrassing result this weekend.  They were due to play away to Cowdenbeath, but successfully lobbied the SPFL to have the game postponed due to international call-ups.  As daft as that seems, given the Gers' bloated squad, rules are rules - the rulebook itself states that:
A Club shall be entitled to apply to the Board for the postponement of any Official Match where three or more of its Players who would otherwise have participated in such match are unavailable through international selection 
Rangers have had a few matches called off over the last couple of years for this reason.  So there's a precedent.

But this situation is weird.

Firstly, the league announced the rearranging of the fixture before call-ups even took place.

Secondly, one of the three players Rangers are missing, hapless Tunisian Bilel Mohsni, is suspended for club matches at the moment after some mischief against Hibs was picked up by TV cameras.  Cowdenbeath pointed out to the SPFL that, under the above rule, Mohsni didn't count.  The response was akin to putting their fingers in their ears and muttering "la la la, I'm not listening".

Thirdly, Rangers haven't actually had three players called up.

Ulsterman Dean Shiels didn't make the Northern Irish squad.  He's on standby because of injuries.  Apparently, according to Twitter users, the league say this counts., although I couldn't find anything written about it.  I don't know about you, but in my book 'on standby' is not the same as 'called up'.  You're either called up or you're not.

This leaves Lithuania's Marius Zaliukas.  He limped off injured at Almondvale, and is a severe doubt for his country's matches.  If he doesn't recover, then it's possible that Rangers won't have actually had a single player away.  That's just crazy.  And it'll cost Cowdenbeath too, as even if they fill Central Park, their income from hospitality is likely to be reduced.  And of course their part-time side will play after a full day's work.

From this blogger's perspective, the league seem to have been happy to assume that several Gers players would be away, just because the Gers said so.  It's nuts.

But then the authorities have not been too bad to the club this season.  Their League Cup progress has received considerable aid for a start.  They were allowed to postpone their First Round match against Queen's Park on the grounds that Ibrox was in use for the Commonwealth Games.  This would be understandable...but for the fact that the match wasn't at Ibrox, or even at Hampden Park.  It was at Airdrie, where the Spiders are playing this season.  The fact that Rangers already had a friendly match at Derby County (which I bet came with a not-so-insignificant appearance fee) is entirely coincidental, of course.

With Rangers running a round behind everyone else, this caused a problem for the seeded draw for the Third Round - if Inverness won the tie, they would be seeded, but if Rangers won the tie, they would not.  Instead of just delaying things, the league instead held the draw as if the winner would be seeded.  When, to my despair, the Gers won, they got an easier Third Round tie and avoided another top flight opponent.

A few folk in powerful places seem happy to accept that they are indeed The People.

You'd think, with all this help, they'd really be doing rather better.


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