Scottish sport comment: A quick scan of the bunched SPL table at this embryonic stage of the season suggests it is yet too early to accurately predict which teams will emerge to challenge Celtic for the title.
More striking still is the absence of Rangers, something which remains an oddity months after their fall into administration and subsequent liquidation.
So momentous were these events that it is not an overstatement to say Scottish society at large — witness the involvement of government ministers and other political figures in the saga — was shaken by the potential ramifications of the affair.
But facts are stubborn and the fact is Scottish football is up and running once more despite the great cries of impending Armageddon which accompanied the fall of the House of Ibrox.
Life goes on. Celtic are now in the Champions League proper, bringing with them a £1.5 million bounty for other SPL clubs, culled from Uefa’s “solidarity fund.” In the Europa League Hearts and a youthful Motherwell emerged with honour from recent ties against top sides from England and Spain respectively.
Nevertheless we are all in uncharted waters. That is not to say the resolution which placed The Rangers FC in the bottom tier of the senior game was misguided.
No, it was nothing less than a monumental victory of sporting integrity over cold economics. Who is to be congratulated for this outcome? Not, by any stretch, the dithering administrators who reside at SPL and SFA headquarters.
Rather it is the fans themselves — at clubs the land over — who stood fast against what they saw as an attempt to shoehorn a reconstituted Rangers back into the SPL simply because of the financial muscle traditionally attached to the Govan side.
What the doomsayers refused to acknowledge was that an alternative model was perfectly possible. Its basic premise was that bumper crowds would continue to be a feature of Rangers matches both home and away. Not only that, money from (albeit reduced) television deals would follow them through the divisions back to the SPL.
Just as in the early to mid-1980s there’s now the chance for other sides, the likes of Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hearts, to challenge for honours, prompting a surge of interest in the game.
Here we come to the potential sticking point and key to future prosperity — attendances.
Will supporters continue to turn up in their droves throughout those winter months when Rangers are, in all likelihood, racing towards the title? Will fans around the SPL remain as invigorated by a league without fixtures against Rangers?
For now those questions remain unanswerable. Yet figures from last weekend certainly carry a warning.
At Celtic Park, for the visit of Hibernian, there were only 45,000 in a ground which can accommodate another 15,000 on top of that figure, while at Pittodrie Aberdeen failed to manage a meagre 10,000 through the gate, half the capacity.
As the great Jock Stein memorably said: “Football without fans is nothing.” No matter their colours supporters must now prove that point by their own actions, in this most crucial of seasons.
Memorial to 'Great Huger' long overdue
There has been great excitement among Celtic followers in recent days at the increasingly likely prospect of a permanent memorial in Glasgow marking the “Great Hunger” of the Irish famine in the mid-19th century.
Of course many tens of thousands of starving souls fled to the city and surrounding districts of west-central Scotland. Their lives and those of succeeding generations have been much bound to the team from Parkhead.
While Celtic themselves must surely have long thought about erecting a lasting tribute, wider municipal backing at last suggests progress in understanding the modern history of the area.
For all concerned it can only be viewed as a most welcome move.
Scotland can't take support of Tartan Army for granted on road to Brazil
My generation was fortunate when it came to the Scottish national team. Appearances were made at every World Cup from 1974 to 1990. Throw in the Euros of 1992 and 1996 plus another Coupe du Monde two years later and, in retrospect, it was a golden era.
On Saturday Craig Levein’s side begin their qualification campaign for the finals in Brazil two years hence. A successful outcome would end a 16-year hiatus stretching back to France ’98.
The support of the Tartan Army has always been crucial, but that backing should never be taken for granted.
Last month Ian Black was jeered onto the pitch for his first cap against Australia at Hibernian’s Easter Rd.
The former Hearts player — a controversial late call-up from the third division where he now plays with Rangers — said he was “disappointed” but “unfazed.”
Whatever we in the media think of the merits of booing players in the national kit we must never forget that paying customers are entitled to their say. It’s called prerogative.
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