Rangers 4th round Scottish Cup match against Celtic at Ibrox has been rescheduled to Sunday afternoon, but is this really such a big deal?
I can’t be the only one who has read about the football fixture switch debacle and thought, who cares? Apparently, a lot of people care, and I should too, but it seems for all the world like such a storm in a teacup that I struggle to find any kind of emotion other than apathy relating to it. It’s not a great situation, but it’s one weekend of football. I’ll moderately rescheduled matches over another international break any day of the week.
Now, if you’ve been living under a rock or in Nitshill, you may be wondering what I’m banging on about so here’s a quick refresher – the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, died on Friday there. It’s a pretty big deal, all things considered, and his funeral will be a fairly significant, though I’d imagine respectful, event. He was 99 and moved on after a record 73 years as the Queen’s royal consort and, doubtless, a lifetime of secretly supporting Rangers.
Last weekend, to commemorate, sports came together for a minutes silence – a pause some 60 seconds too long for the Celtic supporting hooligans who used the opportunity to set off fireworks outside Celtic Park. Nonetheless, this weekend will be almost certainly dominated by the late Prince’s funeral on Saturday afternoon.
For better or worse, watching football on the telly is a multi-billion pound thing and the Sports channels all didn’t want to share their ratings with the Beeb or whoever was broadcasting the funeral. So rearrange the matches they did and here we are.
The grievance, it would seem, regarding Rangers match – against Celtic in the Scottish Cup 4th round – is that it was picked for a 3pm Sunday kickoff, rather than simply being rescheduled for later on Saturday. Honestly, this appears to be literally the only issue here, it’s that petty. I’ve seen articles quoting tweets of bemoaning Bears who have to work on Sunday (?) or simply feel like the Old Firm game wasn’t viewed with the importance it deserves.
All of it is balderdash, of course, as these games are specifically arranged to maximise potential ratings. A reschedule to Saturday evening would see the game clash with Manchester City vs Chelsea and putting it back any further than Sunday afternoon would put both sides at a disadvantage for the Premiership, with Rangers travelling to St Johnstone on Wednesday. It’s a lose-lose situation and one that was never going to please everyone.
I’d go as far to suggest that most Rangers fans, let’s call us a relatively silent majority, don’t care nearly as much as the media wants to suggest we do. May the Prince’s passing isn’t the most notable thing on our radar, but one single game being rescheduled is a drop in the bucket. Sure, it’s the Old Firm, but let’s not pretend for a second that the 23 hour delay really changes anything in the grand scheme of things.
In any case, the clash at Ibrox will be the game of the weekend even for the neutral. Will Celtic finally give the champions their richly deserved guard of honour? Will prophecies of a hammering by the Hoops, from ex-players and current wallys like Chris Sutton, come to fruition? How about the minute silence being respected by fans wearing green this time? Probably a big negative on all those accounts, but I’m open to being surprised.
As Rangers have long since won their 55th league title, performances have understandably stagnated somewhat in the Premiership. Here’s hoping the prospect of a double, dumping out our rivals on route for good measure, revives the early to mid season dominance for Steven Gerrard’s men. Now that would be something I think we could all care about.