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It's been a mixed week for the SPFL and Scottish football as a brand. On the one hand, the conclusion to the Championship season was a thrilling affair when the identity of which team would be promoted, which would make up the play-off spots and which might be relegated changed on a number of occasions. Nothing wrong with that you might say – with some justification. Dundee, the team that emerged from Friday night's action with the best prize of the lot, were subsequently celebrating again yesterday when their boss Gary Bowyer picked up the Championship manager of the season award for the expert way in which he steered the Dens Park outfit over the line. An hour later, though, a missive on Dundee's official website confirmed the 51-year-old's exit, thus bringing an end to a couple of days' worth of speculation which suggested Bowyer would be returning to England, with former club Blackpool – just relegated to Sky Bet League One – the likely destination. EFL 1 SPFL 0.

Speaking of which, it is less than a week since the EFL and Sky Sports announced a massive television rights package amounting to almost £1bn for the rights to broadcast live games in England's second, third and fourth tiers over the next five seasons. It's a figure that totally eclipses the £150m that the SPFL negotiated with the same broadcaster last year for an extension to its package that would further cover the period 2025-2029 but with more matches on offer to the broadcaster. EFL 2 SPFL 0.

Later on yesterday afternoon, at the press conference to announce the PFA Scotland player of the year award nominations, Reo Hatate was asked about the rumours linking him with Brighton & Hove Albion and, while he seemed to dampen the fires around the idea that he is set to leave Celtic for England this summer, it was hardly the most convincing rebuttal according to the journalists who were gathered there.

To make matters worse, Kyogo Furuhashi, his fellow Japanese international at Celtic, was equally circumspect when asked about where his immediate future lay.

“I am just focusing on the games that are left, because we still have the cup final to play so I’m just focusing on where I am and I’m not thinking about the future,” he said cautiously.

Of course, it might just have been lost somewhere in translation but would it really come as a major surprise if two players on the short list for Scotland's player of the year award headed off to England in the close season? It's not as if there isn't a precedent for these kind of things. A third nominee, Kevin van Veen, also gave a strong hint that this might be his final season at Motherwell, too, revealing that he almost left the club for China in January.

Which brings us to the Scottish Cup final which you could not have failed to notice has been moved to the rather inconvenient time of 5.30pm on Saturday, June 3, thus making it a logistical nightmare for Inverness supporters with only one train home on the Saturday evening – and one that leaves Glasgow at 7.30pm. The supposed logic for this change is that it will allow television viewers to watch both the Scottish Cup final and the English FA Cup final which kicks off at the same time but there has been nary a thought given to match-attending supporters.

Now let's look back at Friday night's Championship denouement: it was a night of tempestuous see-sawing action. Let's recall, too, the first round of fixtures in the SPFL promotion and relegation play-offs earlier this week, matches that produced a grand total of 26 goals in five games. 


Some newspapers neglected to even carry reports for these fixtures. There seems to be an all-too-ready willingness to accept that the game here is a poor second cousin to what goes on down the road – and, yes, there might be a gulf in quality but there is not a lack of interest. The statistics tell us as much.

Once again in 2022-23, attendances have been through the roof. At latest count with four games still remaining in the Premiership the figures – 4,019,340 according to Transfermarkt – are well on track to smash last year's tally of 4,082,038. 

In short, the natives can't get enough of the Scottish game – if only the powers that be felt the same way and were able to convince broadcasters of its unique selling points. After all it is the league that first brought some of the Premier League's favourite poster boys – such as Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson – to prominence. Maybe if the people tasked with selling the league's virtues did so a little more effectively there would be a TV deal worth talking about in place – even one that was a mere fraction of that which the EFL has just negotiated with Sky Sports instead of that which will give Scottish clubs £30m between them for four years from 2025 onwards would be a start. Maybe then, quality would improve, interest would pique, viewing figures would go up. Or is that too much like common sense?