Davie Hay: Celtic need Rangers edge in Premiership

CELTIC are 11 points clear, having played only half of their SPFL games.

Loading Comments
Charlie Mulgrew celebrates scoring in a 3-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead on April 29, 2012 - the last time the great Glasgow rivals met
Charlie Mulgrew celebrates scoring in a 3-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead on April 29, 2012 - the last time the great Glasgow rivals met

The opposition have been kept out in the last six of these matches, plus a Scottish Cup-tie at Tynecastle, which they won 7-0.

It is now looking more and more like one goal to Celtic, and the game is over.

None of which is good for the health of the game in this country - and none of which is the fault of Celtic.

Neil Lennon and his players can only play - and beat - what is placed in front of them.

However, what must be a concern to everyone connected with Celtic is the effect all of this is having on the crowds.

You could almost say the club are becoming a victim of circumstance, and it will be hitting them in the pocket.

Having bought their season tickets, supporters are choosing not to attend games.

Now I know we have been in a holiday period when, traditionally, attendances can dip.

The weather has not been much of an encouragement to go outdoors either, while the live coverage of exciting games in the English Premiership also makes staying in front of the fire very appealing.

And, of course, there is an on-cost to attending games as fans have to pay for fuel or travel, parking, refreshment, programmes, etc.

However, I don't think any of the above would be an issue if they thought they were going to be watching competitive football involving Celtic. And, at the moment, that is not what they are getting.

Okay, the last three games have all finished 1-0, which would suggest they have been close.

But, the truth is they have been anything but because Celtic are simply so far ahead of the opposition, a situation which is not likely to change any time soon.

Last season they won the title before the split. This year, it could be wrapped up before the clocks go forward.

How many will be turning up for games by then?

A lot is being made about trying to remain unbeaten all season, which is extremely tough to do, as the record books show.

And, the current run of shut-outs by Fraser Forster has matched the record set by Rab Douglas when Martin O'Neill was in charge.

THAT is worthy of mention because, like the unbeaten run, it is something in which they can take pride.

But, these are really sideshows which are unlikely to add any significant numbers to the attendance figures.

The only thing Celtic can do to draw fans back is try to make what is on offer more attractive.

That means scoring more goals and entertaining the fans, though, if they go back to winning 7-0 and 5-0, as they were doing at the start of last month, it will only further highlight the gulf between them and the rest, which will give rise to more complaints about how uncompetitive it all is.

In the week when Partick Thistle came across town for the Ne'erday Glasgow derby, you just cannot get away from the fact that the presence of Rangers in the top division is the only thing that will reverse what is happening.

Last season, it was something of a novelty that they were not there. Now, the reality is hitting home.

I still maintain they had to be punished for what they did. But, at the time, I was not in favour of a top division without a Rangers presence, and nothing has happened to change my mind since.

It will be another 18 months before they will have the chance to win a place in the SPFL Premiership. And, even then, initially, it is hard to see how they can be at sufficient strength to mount a serious challenge to Celtic.

But, the very fact Celtic and Rangers will be in the same division will add to the competitiveness of it, and the interest it generates.

I am not just talking about the four times they would meet in a season, but to all the other games they play. It will help bring a much-needed edge back to the domestic season, and that can only help Celtic in the long run.

As it stands, they are only really taxed in the qualifiers and play-offs for the Champions League, though a cup upset - as Morton proved - is always a possibility.

In the league, which is the bulk of the season, they are not being extended to any real degree, and this is now being reflected every week in the empty seats in the stands.


Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
                A weekly round up of social highlights                

A weekly round up of social highlights


Cat's Eyes on Glasgow


Why the Harlem Globetrotters weren't so slam dunking and making a boob at Debenhams

Free swim at a Glasgow Club pool for every reader - Click here



Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

            Michelle McManus            

Michelle McManus


Sussed in the City


Why women are better at spotting so called 'bluff' when it comes to the independence debate.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.