Up until now it wouldn't have mattered if Doncaster had looked on the League Cup with detached indifference, like a man watching a dog doing its business on a neighbour's lawn. Not any more. When he became the chief executive of the new SPFL, he assumed responsibility for Scottish football's smallest major tournament. Whether he likes it or not, the League Cup's been dumped on Doncaster and he's answerable for it.
Whatever goals, drama or upsets are created in the ties spread over tomorrow and Wednesday the eight-game card seems certain to generate unwelcome attention in one respect. This is a stage of the tournament, and a time in the season, when fans don't respond well to midweek domestic cup games. The attendances are likely to be so unimpressive that the entire competition will be questioned and criticised yet again. What will Celtic versus Morton get at Parkhead tomorrow night? 15,000? Will Hibs against Stranraer get even 5,000? What chance of a respectable crowd at Falkirk-Aberdeen when the game's live on the BBC2?
In the 2nd round last month Aberdeen-Alloa got 4,897. Kilmarnock-Hamilton 2,023 and Stranraer-Ross County 215, a figure so paltry you have to double check it can be right. There are those who would have you believe these awful figures speak of this being one competition too many, a superfluous and redundant intrusion which fans would be happy to see the back of.
But that isn't true. The League Cup is more unlucky than unloved. Crowds are so low because people aren't always enthused about coming out to see what are often lower-league opponents on midweek nights when the weather's turning. For most fans its an additional expense given that League Cup ties often aren't included in season-ticket packages. Celtic might get 25,000 against Morton if it was on their season-book. But it isn't, so they won't get anything close to that. Supporters have become more discerning in how they spend their disposable income. Even if they're season-ticket holders who show for all the home league games it doesn't follow that they'll turn up for the League Cup too.
It's become a strange tournament that only comes fully alive when it gets to the last four. The best thing that's happened to it is the recent change which saw its semi-finals moved to a Saturday and Sunday late in January, giving it prominence at last. The final is always a big deal. Last season's was the first in six years not to involve one of the Old Firm but St Mirren and Hearts still attracted almost 45,000.
There isn't a manager in the country who wouldn't give his eye teeth to win the League Cup and that includes Neil Lennon. For him it could be the first down payment on a possible treble - a feat only Jock Stein and Martin O'Neill have delivered for Celtic, and not since 2001 - not to mention completing his individual clean sweep given it's the only domestic honour he hasn't lifted as manager. Everyone else aches for the sort of day St Mirren enjoyed at Hampden in March. Rangers' first round defeat to Forfar cut them so deeply because they wanted to make a big impression in a big cup this season.
It's wrong that since 1995 winning the League Cup hasn't been rewarded with European football: winning one cup should always merit more of a prize than losing the final of another one. Doncaster recently stressed it was for the SFA to decide the criteria for Scotland's European entrants but offered his own view that giving a place to the League Cup winners could damage the co-efficient. That's an argument based on the fact a weak team might have a fortunate cup run and even win it, which is fair enough, but what did Hibs' 9-0 capitulation against Malmo do for the co-efficient after they'd sneaked into Europe via the back door of losing the Scottish Cup final?
In recent years it's been fashionable to kick the League Cup and some will have another go if the midweek crowds low again. But plenty of us still savour this great old tournament. And as for the holders, if Danny Lennon hadn't won it for St Mirren he'd already have been sacked long ago.
And Finally . . .
If David Moyes is to eventually bring success to Manchester United then the narrative has already been spiced by a Ferguson-style ugly start. United have taken one point from nine against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City and yesterday's derby was such a torrid going-over they should have been grateful to lose only 4-1.
Moyes has never known pressure like this. At times it feels like English football is willing him to fail, with a veiled hostility and withholding of respect. He is strong and will hold his nerve. Despite all the cheap mockery about his job security he is there for the long haul. The real issue is the vast gulf in quality and attitude of Manchester's two teams yesterday.