Rangers have been boosted by the news that Scottish Cup replays have been scrapped by the SFA to assist with fixture congestion and offer “flexibility” in the latter half of the season.
The news was broke by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell with the decision made due to the complexities of playing out matches in the latter half of the season. They will come into effect immediately.
This concerns primarily rearranged fixtures due to weather and matches in the latter stages of European competition, something Rangers have been involved with in recent seasons.
The decision also takes into account the international fixture schedule around this time of year and its impact on the domestic calendar with matches from the fourth round onwards – when Rangers join the competition – being played to a finish.
“It’s important from a fixture calendar perspective,” explained SFA chief Maxwell at the organisation’s AGM for 2021 [Herald].
“When you get to the latter end of the season traditionally you’ve always had one or two games off with the weather depending on how that goes.
“If clubs continue to do well in Europe and are in that beyond Christmas that condenses the calendar.
“We’ve got five in Europe and it would be great all five are involved beyond Christmas. It gives the league flexibility in scheduling.
“It might not seem a lot but it’s three midweeks we’d need to keep aside for a reply and it gives them a chance to schedule fixtures. It’s important the game helps each other out.”
This is a sizeable U-turn from the SFA’s position on this only back in February when Maxwell talked down the possibility of replays being scrapped.
The SFA chief defended the replays and even pointed to an entertaining 4-4 draw between Motherwell and St Mirren the same month which the Buddies won on penalties.
“If the clubs were to say that they wanted to do away with replays, that’s something we would look at,” said Maxwell [Scottish Sun].
“But the Scottish Cup has replays and St Mirren will be happy that it does.
“Who knows? If it hadn’t gone to a replay at St Mirren Park, it might have been a different result and they got through.
“We can have the debate about replays. Some people like them and some don’t.
“It might clear up one or two midweeks, but it’s not going to fundamentally change anything. It’s not going to alleviate the fixture congestion.”
It’s not the only major rule change set to affect Rangers this season as UEFA announced a major change to the contentious away goals rule.