So, another season of football is over.
And sadly, as far as the SPL is concerned, it seems to be business as usual with the Old Firm finishing ahead of the rest of the crowd. So much for the Romanov revolution in 2005, which captured headlines around Europe, promised to overthrow the existing order and introduce some unpredictability and new quality into Scottish football.
And yet, 18 months later, Hearts are a shadow of the side they were under Burley. See the line-up that beat the then champions Rangers in September 2005 – a mix not only of top Scottish internationals and excellent foreign players, but of long-standing Hearts players and new blood.
And for insane reasons only known to Romanov, he has pretty much decimated that team, sold two-thirds of the “Riccarton three” to rivals Celtic, and left Hearts in a position to challenge for no more than third, with a line-up mostly comprising young, inexperienced Scots and second-rate Lithuanians.
I can only hope, in the interests of an unpredictable, entertaining, competitive league, that the steady progress made by Aberdeen, and the tentative, emerging stability at Hearts (however long it lasts), will see a strong challenge to the Old Firm next season. But I have my doubts – as long as the Old Firm can pay significantly higher wages than the rest, they’ll continue to poach talents like Alan Gow and Scott Brown from the competition.
All this of course pales into insignificance at the sad news of the mighty Ross County’s relegation to division two – which if nothing else threatens one of the best youth set-ups in Scottish football. I’m also not convinced by them appointing Dick Campbell as manager, but it’s good that they’ve said “get us promoted again or you’re out” – an honest, ambitious and unambiguous challenge. Here’s hoping they go straight back up.
Good luck, though, to Gretna as they take on the SPL. It will be interesting to see how they fare.