Friday, March 02, 2007

The computer that hated us all

The much maligned SPL computer

It seems the powers that be at the SPL are scared that Celtic won’t officially win the title until they play Rangers at Celtic Park a week on Sunday. If that happens then the fear is that there will be a repeat of the scenes that marred Rangers capture of the title back in 1999.

That was the match when the “misunderstood” Stephane Mahe was sent off, the maligned Hugh Dallas got hit on the head by a coin and a mad Celtic fan launched himself from one tier of the stand to the one below.

Those problems came in a season when the title was still an outside possibility for Celtic. This year if Rangers were to win 15-0 they would still not win the title. And, in 1999, the crowd was watching their arch rivals take the title on their own ground. This year the majority of the crowd will be watching another leg in the stately coronation of their heroes.

So I don’t see the game being more of a tinderbox than usual. What grabbed me about the story was the SPL blaming their computer for the scheduling faux pas.

Up and down the country, when fans complain about fixtures they are told that the computer is to blame. I hate that computer. Obviously the SPL care about the fans and told the computer to sort it out. Will the computer listen? No. Season after season the heartless machine churns out a fixture list so confused that it is practically impossible to follow.

Obviously life for the computer isn’t easy. TV coverage means that games don’t always kick off at 3pm on a Saturday. Rangers and Celtic and Hibs and Hearts can’t play at home on the same day.

It’s all quite confusing. I’m sure the computer gets quite upset at times. Especially when it looks at the newspaper and reads that all the nasty people at the SPL are blaming it for all the ills of the fixture list.

So here’s my suggestion. Let’s give the computer a break. Allow it to concentrate on simpler things, like beating Bobby Fischer at chess.

In the meantime the SPL bosses can sit down with a sheet of paper and work out 33 rounds of fixtures. They could even do things like give each team a fixture list based on the revolutionary principle of home, away, home, away. From that list they can chat to their Setanta friends about television coverage.

Should they feel, like the computer, overtaxed by that I’m sure there is a school somewhere that is looking for a maths project for a Primary 7 class.

Dundee United and Dundee sorted out a fixture clash by tossing a coin. I believe they used a virtual coin provided by the SPL computer.