Post-Split Fixtures

With the top 6 settled with a game to spare, it is now time for the SPL to decide on the post-split fixtures.  These will inevitably create controversy, with at least one team generally having a complaint about having to visit a certain ground 3 times, or about having too few home games.  The SPL attempt to prevent these problems by “seeding” the fixtures on the assumption that the top 6 in the previous season will be repeated, but this has never actually happened in practice.  This season, St Johnstone finished in the top 6 and Killie in the bottom 6, causing yet another headache for the fixture schedulers.

I am personally a fan of the split despite these quirks – it gives mid-table teams something to play for until close to the end of the season, and also allows the SPL to manipulate the fixture list to create “winner takes all” matches at the end of the season, which is good for creating interest in the league.  The SPL was one of the first leagues to introduce a split, but it has since been copied by a number of other European countries.

Top 6

The table on the right shows the number of home games each of the top 6 clubs are due, and also the opponents that each club are supposed to be playing at home.  We can see that there are four clubs due 3 home games, and two clubs due 2 homes.  Unfortunately, that means that one club will end up with 18 homes and 20 aways.

Generally when this situation arises, the SPL will attempt to cause as little inconvenience as possible to the teams who still have something to play for.  In this case, the race for the European places involves all four clubs apart from the Old Firm, while Rangers still have 2nd place to play for.  Celtic will probably seal the league title before the split, so fairness would dictate that they are the team who should miss out on the home game.

However, I’m sure all of us know the SPL well enough to know that it is extremely unlikely that this course of action will be taken.  Celtic and Rangers tend to hold more sway than any of the other clubs, and have never previously been disadvantaged by the split aside from the inevitability of having to go to certain away grounds 3 times a season.  This means that the most likely club to be disadvantaged would be St Johnstone.  They have previously had the benefit of the split – with 20 home games and 18 aways in a season, although it was way back in 2001/02.  They also have the best away record in the SPL, which may mean that the team would feel less inconvenienced by having an extra away match.

A couple of other adjustments are necessary in order to sort out the fixture list.  Rangers are due one extra away match, while Motherwell are due an extra home.  This should mean that Rangers will make a 3rd trip to Fir Park after the split.  Dundee United are also due an extra away match, and can be sent to either Celtic Park or McDiarmid Park for a 3rd time, depending on who the SPL decide to disadvantage.

Bottom 6

The bottom 6 have the opposite imbalance.  Four of the clubs are due just 2 home matches, while only two of them are due 3 homes.  That means that one of the bottom 6 will have 20 homes and 18 aways.  Again, the priority of the SPL should be to protect the integrity of the relegation battle, which means that neither Hibs nor Dunfermline should be given the extra home game.

That means that either Killie or Aberdeen should be given the extra home match.  A look at previous seasons shows that Aberdeen have already had the advantage of 20 homes and 18 aways on three occasions (2005/06, 2007/08 and 2009/10), and have only had 18 homes and 20 aways once (2004/05).  On the other hand, Killie have never previously had 20 homes and 18 aways, but have had 18 homes and 20 aways once (2006/07).  That would suggest that Killie are due the extra home game more than Aberdeen.

Assuming that Killie are given the extra home game, the only additional adjustment necessary is to send Hibs to Inverness for a 3rd time.  That would leave every club except Killie with 19 homes and 19 aways as expected.  It would also seem extremely likely that the SPL will attempt to create a relegation decider, which suggests that Hibs will host Dunfermline at Easter Road on the 12th May.

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About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

One Response to Post-Split Fixtures

  1. Div says:

    Great stuff but think given the results today that Sky/ESPN might want to bring the Hibs v Dunfermline game to the start of the split.

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