Columnists 20.5.2017 06:01 am

Davids and Goliaths of football

Jon Swift

Jon Swift

You have to ask yourself – even in you are a dyed in the wool Hoops supporter – whether it is healthy for Glasgow Celtic to have a 30-point lead over Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League.

There can be little doubt that the entire face of club football worldwide has changed dramatically … and it isn’t necessarily for the better, with the powerful rich devouring the smaller clubs and loyalties as transient as last year’s replica jersey.

You have to ask yourself – even in you are a dyed in the wool Hoops supporter – whether it is healthy for Glasgow Celtic to have a 30-point lead over Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League.

Rangers, third on the log this year and the other half of “The Auld Firm”, will doubtless rebound in the seasons to come after a long fight back from relegation to the boondocks, and Aberdeen, the last Scottish club bar Celtic or Rangers to take the league title under Alex Ferguson’s management in 1984/85, will almost certainly keep clinging tenaciously to the coattails. But elsewhere Scottish football is a hardscrabble affair.

The Cowdenbeath Football Club, formed 136 years ago in Fife, are holding on by a hair to league football at their 4 309-seat Central Park Stadium as they scramble to retain their place in the relegation play-offs.

How on earth can they ever possibly compete with Celtic Park’s 60 411 seats or the 50 817 Rangers have available at Ibrox? They simply can’t and the semi-professionals at Cowdenbeath carry on in the shadows.

Similarly, while the battle rages in the English Premier League for European qualification and potentially lucrative paydays – champions Chelsea and runners-up Tottenham Hotspur are already certainties – something far more troubling is being fought out at the other end of the English leagues.

Orient have spent only one season in the English top tier back in 1962/63. In 1978, they reached the semifinals of the FA Cup for the only time in their history.

It is not exactly an exalted record, but the club has been around forever.But in today’s dog-eat-dog atmosphere, Orient fell on hard times, unable to pay their taxes and wages. An exodus of players went looking for something else to pay the food bills and rent or mortgage repayments.

Things slipped even further and now, after 112 years of league football, Orient have been relegated to the obscurity of non-league status. This is a far cry from the world of Celtic, Chelsea, Juventus, Real Madrid or Barcelona.

But it is a modern football reality.

 

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