What’s that overused saying about insanity and expecting different results?

It was rolling around my mind as I waited with bated breath for the SPFL fixtures to be released early doors on Thursday.

My apologies, what I really mean to say is that I barely slept a wink that night, tossing and turning over my excitement for the release of the 2024/25 Scottish Premiership calendar. My breakfast had to wait as I switched on Sky Sports and set my X notifications to ping through on my phone telling me what the opening weekend of the new campaign would look like. Watching 92 per cent of the same 12 teams playing each other a minimum of three times per season. Hold. Me. Back.

How could anyone resist the prospect of Motherwell v Ross County for about the 500th time in the past five seasons? And yet people wonder why there is little to no interest in Scottish football outside of these shores. Jeez, it can be a struggle to maintain interest from the very lifeblood of the game here, too.

That’s the very thing – it’s not just three times a season for most clubs – it more often than not pans out to be four, if not five or maybe even six depending on how the cup draws go. It’s unimaginative and, forgive me for saying this, but it has caused utter monotony for fans of the Scottish game for quite a while now.

There will have been a time in years gone past when there would’ve been a buzz around the league fixtures being announced. For newly promoted teams, that sense of anticipation will always be there. That’s fair enough. For the rest, though, it’s simply a case of the same old, same old.

The best teams will find their way to the top league. Dundee United will be a welcome addition in place of a poor Livingston side from last term. The Tannadice outfit’s return will also see the comeback of the Dundee derby – something the SPFL have capitalised on by making that one of the headline games from the first matchday. To the league’s credit, this will generate plenty of excitement for fans of both of these clubs and, of course, it’s great to see the match will be showcased live on Sky Sports.

The broadcaster has selected four (yes, you read that right, four) games for live TV coverage from the opening weekend. This is unheard of for the Premiership. You’d like to think that this is a sign of things to come over the next 12 months, but the cynicism in most of us tilts your thought process towards the fact that the English Premier League doesn’t get underway until the following weekend.

“Absolutely brilliant,” Tony Docherty said about the timing of the fixture. “What an advert for Scottish football and what a buzz I got when I heard that this morning, as would every Dundee and Dundee United fan. I think it’s fantastic. There’s a real buzz about the place with the announcement of that. So, we’re already hugely excited about the new campaign, but to start it off with a derby and obviously United unfurling the flag, it’s great motivation for the players.”

Kudos goes to the SPFL for this one and for balance, at least this decision has garnered plenty of enthusiasm in the City of Discovery. Sky will also show Hearts v Rangers on Saturday lunchtime to raise the curtain on the season, with Celtic’s flag-day game against Kilmarnock being shown at 4.30pm on Sunday. St Johnstone v Aberdeen has been picked for TV, too, which means it has the rather unfortunate kick-off time of Monday night. That’ll likely be the first and last time we see a Monday evening game, thankfully, given the subsequent return of the Premier League and Sky’s flagship Monday Night Football show.

For the most part, though, the league set-up has become stale and boring, and there is undoubtedly a desire among punters to see changes made. The glaringly obvious way to implement such alternations would be to reconstruct the league system from the Premiership downwards.

A new-look top league with 16 teams in it, featuring a split after each team has faced each other home and away, having two up and two down, as well as a play-off, would unquestionably inject some much-needed freshness. More trepidation, increased drama, and the guarantee of at least two new teams every season. Question marks over diluting the quality of the division would rightly be posed, but would that potential con outweigh the obvious benefits such as the prospect of younger players being favoured over journeymen players? I guess we’d all have to wait and see.

Truthfully, surely there comes a point where not trying anything to improve the image of our game will become more damaging than taking the plunge and finding out. 

Without taking a radical swing of a sledgehammer towards the construction of the leagues with some heavy-duty dismantling, perhaps pairing the Old Firm together on the opening weekend would be an alternative to spicing things up and piquing interest. For decades the two clubs have somehow managed to avoid playing each other in the first game – that’s a total coincidence, of course. Ditching the dogmatic approach where Glasgow’s big two must play each other at roughly the same point in every season – early September, the festive period and early April – could go some way to curing some of the tediousness and dullness around the fixture schedule.

Take it a step further and make it a blockbuster derby weekend by having all three of the main derbies from the get-go. Now, that would be a great way to get as many eyes as possible on our game from viewers across the globe.

Dundee v Dundee United at noon on Saturday, then Celtic v Rangers at the same time a day later, closely followed by Hearts v Hibernian in a mid-afternoon slot. Tell me that wouldn’t grab people’s attention.

Something has been needed to liven up the monotony that can be Scottish football for at least a few years. The SPFL showed courage and ingenuity to change the League Cup format to a summer group stage in place of traditional pre-season games. They also introduced a top-flight play-off 10 years ago. So, they have shown they are willing to think outside of the box. The time for them to do so again is long overdue.