The forgotten St Mirren-Rangers fixture and memory loss


The build up to Sunday’s match has been given an extra edge by the SPL’s decision to extend the season for the benefit of Rangers should they reach the final of the UEFA Cup.


By granting an extension Celtic, Hibs, Motherwell, Dundee Utd, Aberdeen and St Mirren will have their season extended with Celtic, Hibs, Dundee Utd and Aberdeen having an 11 day wait to play their final match.

After being granted a winter’s break in December that no other club even considered, a month that proved very costly to Celtic, Rangers are now bleating about not getting the extension that they require.

Yesterday Walter Smith brought up the forgotten St Mirren-Rangers fixture postponed on November 12 for the benefit of the Scotland-Italy game on November 18. Smith mentioned that that fixture should have been arranged ahead of the Celtic-Rangers game postponed on January 2.

It certainly should have, with December 5 and 19 free why wasn’t the postponed St Mirren game played then?

While Celtic played their postponed game against Falkirk on December 11 Rangers, with or without the approval/support of the SPL forgot all about their game with St Mirren.

The free Wednesdays of December 5 and December 19 passed with the St Mirren game forgotten, perhaps Rangers didn’t fancy a trip to Love Street before facing Lyon on December 12 or before the visit to Aberdeen on December 23.

In most circumstances the St Mirren and well publicised Gretna games could be played quite easily later in the season but due to a variety of reasons such as the death of Phil O’Donnell, the poor condition of Rangers relaid pitch, Scottish Cup replays and reaching the CIS Cup Final Rangers have fallen three fixtures behind.

Nothing could be done about the circumstances above, these things happen in football, but there would be just two games to be arranged and Rangers would have played one less fixture since the turn of the year if the Gretna AND St Mirren fixtures had been played during December when there was free midweeks.

Meanwhile Celtic were playing fixtures left right and centre without whimpering or looking for a winter’s break.

Shakhtar Donetsk and AC Milan were played within seven days in the Champions League with a trip to Hearts inbetween proving costly with two points dropped.

Returning from Milan Celtic played their rearranged game with Falkirk at the first opportunity, December 11, inbetween drawing at home with St Mirren and losing at Inverness.

These things happen, that’s the consequences of success we accept it but how would the SPL table look if we’d been able to forget about the Hearts or Inverness away games and played the Falkirk match at a time that suited us better?

If Celtic had been able to side-step tricky looking fixtures in December for the benefit of ‘the co-efficient of course’ how would they be sitting in the league table?

Whilst Celtic were dropping nine points during December Rangers lost two points while playing two less fixtures.



On the subject of integrity we now have Rangers squealing about the need for an extension of the SPL, with that being granted, should they reach the UEFA Cup Final, they would now like a longer extension to the season.

What has caused this? For long enough we were told that Rangers didn’t want an extension to the season, as Walter Smith confirmed on April 3: “But I would like to clarify something right now. Nobody from Rangers has ever asked the SPL to extend the season and we will not ask the SPL to extend the season.”

Roll the clock forward three weeks and it’s extensions all round, whether it’s Martin Bain with: “Why is the season simply not extended to conclude on May 27 regardless?” or Walter Smith with: “Actually, they had no alternative but to extend the season if Rangers reach the UEFA Cup final.
“What they have done in the other scenario is put us in a situation where we could play four games in a week. We accept it, but is it right from the league’s point of view to force a club to do that?”

Celtic’s win over Rangers on April 16 has changed everything. A point for Rangers in that game would have made the league a formality, games could have been fitted in at any time without having any effect on the title race.

Now Rangers and the SPL have a problem and if Rangers reach the UEFA Cup Final it will be Celtic, Motherwell, Hibs, Dundee Utd, Aberdeen, Motherwell and St Mirren that suffer with their season extended to accommodate Rangers.

If the SPL had made Rangers play through December, as the other 11 SPL clubs did, then there would be no backlog or controversy. The problems have all been caused by the SPL allowing Rangers to select their fixtures through December whilst Celtic played on to their cost dropping nine points during the month.

A win for Celtic tomorrow will really kick things off, any other result should see Rangers win the league quite comfortably.

Delaying the final game of the season to suit Rangers is unfair and distorts the sporting integrity of the SPL as Peter Lawwell rightly highlights.

Walter Smith rightly points out that Celtic and Lawwell are looking after themselves. Correct. 100%. And extending the season to accommodate a club that has already enjoyed a winter break is unfair.

Rangers are entitled to their break in December… provided they catch up with the fixtures later on.

Expecting six other clubs to extend their season to suit Rangers is unfair and should be resisted by all those that wish to compete on equal terms.

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