SPL worried over Old Firm Matches
With the finals weeks of the Scottish Premier League season quickly approaching, the men and women at the Scottish Premier League headquarters needed to get down to business... and fast.
The league had a monsterous problem on their hands. During the middle of the season dozens of games were postponed due to horrible weather, bad field conditions or the death of Motherwell player Phi O'Donnell, and all these games needed rescheduling before the end of the season in May. Celtic alone had seven games that needed to be rescheduled.
All clubs were against a possible expansion of the season, a possible solution to avoiding teams playing to many games in too short a time.
But after much deliberation, the SPL have finally rescheduled almost all of the remaining games, including Celtic's final seven matches. The Hoops will finish out their season with Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hibernian, two draws with Motherwell and the final Old Firm matches of the season against Rangers on April 19th and 27th.
However one problem that arises with this new schedule has the possiblity of turning out to be a disaster for the Scottish Premier.
Rangers are currently 7 points ahead of second place Celtic in the Premier League table, and if that trend continues it's possible that Rangers could win the SPL title at Celtic Park.
The last time this occured, in 1999 when Rangers beat Celtic 3-0, chaos insued after the game. A total of three players were sent-off in the match, four fans invaded the pitch, the referee and a steward were attacked and hit with missiles from the stands. In total almost 100 people were arrested.
The SPL want desperately to avoid such a conflict from occuring again, but at this point the schedule is so crowded that there is not much they can do. Rangers is still involved in the UEFA Cup and Scottish Cup, meaning they may be forced to play three or four games a week for the remainder of the season.
Referee Hugh Dallas needed to be treated by paramedics before he could resume officiating the Old Firm Match that gave Rangers the crown in 1999.
SPL secretary Ian Blair (essentially the SPL's spokesman), has spoke at length about rescheduling of the final games to the media, and you can hear most of what he has to say here. He does a much better job at explaining it than I do so listen in.
For a complete list of the new schedule, click here.
Three Celts in the Running for Player of the Year
The final four nominees for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year Award have been chosen. They include three Celts: Aiden McGeady, Scott McDonald and Barry Robson. This is amazing news for Celtic fans, as all three have had amazing seasons so far.
Aiden McGeady is young at 22 years old, but his dominance in the midfield makes him look as though he has the experience of one of the elder veterans on the team. His ball handling skills on the left flank are amazing and his goals have all been memorable this year. He's not primarily a goalscorer but he has been a vital part of Celtic's attacl for the last few years and been a huge presence in the Hoops midfield.
Scott McDonald leads the Scottish Premier League in goals this season, scoring a whopping 25 by February. His skill has been on par with some of the best performances Celtic fans have ever seen and with two hat-tricks this year already, he's an amazing player to watch. He's short in stature but can dominate up front, and winning Australia's Overseas Player of the Year is an amazing accomplishement.
Barry Robson made an immediate impact with Celtic, scoring on his first ever touch with the club off a free kick in a 5-1 over Aberdeen in February and even scoring in his first appearance in the Champions League against Barcelona. In five appearances with Celtic he has scored twice, and this season he's tallied a total of 14 goals.
The fourth contestant for the award is Rangers defender Carlos Cuellar, who is a loser.
The winner will be announced on April 20th. I've got my money on Aiden McGeady, though all three Celts would be equally deserving for the award.
Robson has made an immediate impact at Celtic
Lennon Returns to Celtic
Ex-Celtic Captain Neil Lennon, who left the club last summer, has retired from soccer and joined Celtic again as an assistant coach under Gordan Strachan. He was delighted to be back with his team and is looking forward, somewhat nervously, to his coaching career.
"The manager has said to me this morning that I'll just learn as I go along. You have all these pre-conceived ideas about team-talks and coaching sessions, but when you get into it, it will be totally different," he said of his new job in an interview with The Celtic View.
He was with the team in their loss to Motherwell over the weekend, and he looks to be a valuable coach in the locker room, both knowledgeable and well liked by his former teammates, and who knows, maybe he'll help inspire Celtic to victory.
Lennon ended his career at the top, so to speak, by winning the SPL title on the final day. Celtic fans will be glad to see him with the team once again.