NEW KIDS ON
OK. What have these two lists got in common? On the one hand
Fulham, Luton Town, Ipswich Town, Leyton Orient, Northampton
Town, Southampton, Coventry City, Queens Park Rangers,
Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Carlisle United, Brighton, Swansea
City, Watford, Oxford United, Wimbledon, Millwall, Swindon
Town and Barnsley?
And on the other
The first list represents all those teams that have played
in the top flight of English football since 1945 FOR THE FIRST
TIME. Needless to say the Scottish list, as you can see, is
just a tad smaller.
So, welcome aboard Livingston. Whether you regard them as
a completely new club, Meadowbank revisited, or even the third
incarnation of Ferranti Thistle, one thing is abundantly clear;
for the first time since Stirling reached the A
Division in 1949, Scotlands top league has a new member.
Lets hope the locals turn out to watch them too. Although
far and away the best supported side outside the Premier,
Livingston s crowds have actually fallen by around 300
per game this season. Their total for the season is only slightly
more than Celtic get for one game.
So if thats what the best of the rest can
do, what hope for the others?
Note for anoraks: The present Clydebank club has no connection
with the club of that name which played in the old First Division,
so you could argue that they too have been a new team in the
top flight since 1945. In which case, drop the six London
clubs from the list above and we'll talk about TOWNS/CITIES
with top League status since the war. The Scottish list still
Cooking utensils describing water-boiling applications
asbeing of an ebony hue is a polite way of summarising the
complaints made by Dundee manager Ivano Bonetti about Intertoto
opponents Sartid after his side lost 5-2 in Yugoslavia.
Instead of decrying the fact that their continentals are
better play actors than his continentals, Bonetti would be
better off asking why he allowed his team to take part in
this competition in the first place.
Sure,we know there's a place in the UEFA Cup at stake but
Jim McLean has more chance of winning a lifetime achievement
award from the Dens Park support than their team had of making
it into Europe this way. For just like the UEFA Cup and the
Champions League the Intertoto is biased towards the big boys.
Aston Villa and Newcastle can have another month on the beach
before they're asked to play. The same goes for entrants from
France, Germany and the rest of the elite.
Want proof? Well, the Intertoto started before the Spanish
and Italian Leagues had even finished. There is one relief
for Dundee in the whole sorry affair. At least this was a
one-round tourney, over in a week. Scotland's only other entrants,
Partick Thistle in 1995, had to play in a mini-league lasting
several weeks. Their season stretched from June to May when
an exhausted Thistle lost their Premier place in extra time
in the play-offs. Dundee will hope to avoid that fate.
The Dens Park side finished 6th last season. At one time
that would have guaranteed an automatic European spot. And
that is the true measure of Scottish football's decline.