The SFA summer rule change that could spare Celtic some additional fixtures

By David Walton

January 11, 2021

The SFA made a particular rule change in the summer regarding the Scottish Cup that Celtic may now be thankful for.

The Hoops never target replay matches, but so often in the past have they been a godsend for clubs. 1-0 down and struggling, a nice late equaliser and you can reset the tie and prep for the replay.

It’s so often been a nice safety net for the likes of Celtic. They know heading into tricky away ties that clubs have to beat them outright or face a daunting trip to Parkhead. It’s always been an advantage for the bigger clubs.

But this year, that won’t be the case in the Scottish Cup. The SFA restructured the competition in the summer to try and squeeze it into this manic 2020/21 season.

One of the amendments made was that replays will no longer be a thing. Ties must be finished on the day of the original draw. That means Celtic’s home clash against Falkirk or Arbroath can’t be taken to a replay (listen, don’t take anything for granted). The game may have been postponed for now given the current shutdown of lower league football. But when a suitable date is found, the tie will finish on the day.

SFA rule spares Celtic a further fixture headache

Even if there were replays, we would hope to get through this tie with ease. But you never know. Celtic have drawn four matches in the Premiership already this season. One was at home to St Johnstone. These results can happen.

For Celtic, replays would be eligible for our first, second, and third matches in the Scottish Cup. Our first three ties would normally be taken to replay if a draw occurred. This year, however, all three will finish on the day.

And that’s a big boost for Celtic. Even though the replay offers a degree of comfort for tough away matches, we don’t need the extra fixtures. Celtic have already had to squeeze three games in-hand into an already condensed second half of the season.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon with the Scottish Cup / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Adding yet more matches into this calendar would be ridiculous for us. Even if it does leave us absolutely no room for error, this is a rule amendment that we can be thankful for.

In addition to that, clubs also cannot use five substitutes in the Scottish Cup. This is current practice in the Scottish Premiership, but will revert back to three for Scotland’s biggest cup competition.

In other news, Celtic fans are calling for a youngster to come into the mix tonight that rinsed Hibs in pre-season.