As Scotland prepared to kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign last night, thousands of members of the Tartan Army tuned in for Sky’s coverage of the game against Austria. What they were greeted with, though, was nothing short of ridiculous. 

Northern Ireland also happened to be playing that night, and you can almost picture the beads of sweat rolling down some poor executive’s forehead as the broadcaster figured out how to milk this cash cow for all it’s worth. 

The problem, as they saw it, was that they were stuck with two relatively small audiences from two relatively small nations. There’s no way they could compete with ITV's viewing figures for England’s trouncing of San Marino so this was an exercise in damage limitation – how many costs could be cut, how many pennies pinched, without spoiling the overall product? 

Then, inspiration struck. There was a solution – and an elegant one at that. Why bother paying for two studios, two sets of pundits and two broadcasts when you could just roll them into one? After all, it’s only Scotland and Northern Ireland. Who cares?

This way of thinking was apparently enough to convince the head honchos at Sky Sports that it was a good idea, and so they ran with it. The 45-minute build-up was split evenly between Scotland’s game with Austria and Northern Ireland’s trip to Italy, and the two pundits – James McFadden and Chris Brunt – were left in the unfortunate position of providing post-match analysis for games they hadn’t even watched. 

That’s not a joke, by the way. At one point, presenter Eilidh Barbour asked Brunt about John McGinn’s performance. During his answer, the former West Brom man said that he had “seen bits and pieces of the [Scotland] game in between watching the Northern Ireland game”. Yet here he was, being asked to dissect the match and provide insight. 

To be clear, it’s not the fault of any of the trio in the studio. They’re just doing their jobs to the best of their ability. But frankly, it’s ludicrous to expect any sort of analysis from someone who’s only caught the odd glimpse of the game here and there. Poor McFadden, too, was asked to give his take on the Northern Ireland game, despite the fact that he was presumably engrossed in events at Hampden. 

This is no one-off, either. The same thing happened the night before, when Sky’s coverage of the Republic of Ireland and Wales games were rolled into a one-size-fits-all broadcast. Can you imagine the outcry down south if they pulled the same trick with their coverage of English football?  

Therein lies the rub. Sky wouldn’t dare upset that particular apple cart and it’s genuinely unthinkable that they’d even consider it. Why? Because that’s the bigger market, so that’s the one they care about. When it comes to diddy teams like ours, the thinking goes, the profits aren’t as grand and a conscious decision is made to lower the standard of the content. 

It was the latest sorry episode from a broadcaster that’s often been accused of treating the game up here with disdain. To be clear, I don’t think there’s any malice involved or that this latest incident is evidence of some grand conspiracy, or that Sky have some sort of sinister agenda to undermine Scottish football. No, the answer is far simpler: they just don’t care. 

It feels like barely a week goes by where there isn’t some sort of error relating to Scottish football on Sky Sports. Wrong badges, incorrect club names and line-up graphics that don’t come close to resembling a team’s shape are par for the course. It's carelessness and nothing more.

I try to give them the benefit of the doubt – after all, I work in the media too. Mistakes will inevitably happen from time to time. That’s just human nature. I know I’ve made errors that make me cringe just thinking about them. 

The problem, though, is that there’s no consistency. Mistakes crop up regularly in Sky’s coverage of Scottish football, yet their coverage of the English game – the one with the worldwide audience that’s worth eye-watering sums – is second to none.

There’s more money there, so they put the effort in. But when it comes to Scottish football? Well, there’s not much money in that. Why bother? It's only Scotland after all.