Now that the infamous split is almost on us can we look into the SPL's crystal ball and predict the distribution of home and away games?
The nature of a split after 33 of a 38 game league means that the final five matches have an imbalance of home and away fixtures. The ideal scenario is one which results in 19 home and 19 away games for all 12 teams. If only it was that simple.
The fixture list is built to deliver that perfect target on the assumption that the teams above and below the split line are consistent from one season to the next. All would have been correct had Celtic, Motherwell, Dundee United, Hearts, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock formed this season’s top half but that if far from the case.
Let’s give Killie the benefit of the doubt and assume they hold on to the last available place. Looking through claret and amber glasses seems to give a clear cut solution. Of the first 33 fixtures we will have 17 at Fir Park and 16 away. Therefore we should expect 2 home and 3 away matches against the rest of the top six. A look back at the season shows that we should have home games against Ross County and Kilmarnock to finish the season in balance.
But that might not be the outcome that suits the SPL planners. For example, Celtic will have played 17 home games before the split and are therefore due 3 away fixtures. However, Motherwell, Inverness, Ross County and St Johnstone have been to Parkhead only once this season. It looks as though at least one team will have the chance of a bonus home gate against the champions elect.
Motherwell will be putting forward a strong case for the extra home game. In April 2010 a fuming John Boyle made lots of noise about the unfairness of the post-split fixtures when we were denied a second home game against either of the Old Firm. With likely visits from Ross County and Kilmarnock to come, there is no prospect of a cash bonanza unless we can persuade the SPL to come to our aid.
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