Malky Mackay hopes next season’s Premier Sports Cup might lessen the punishment for teams struck by Covid – should the virus still be hitting football hard.
The Ross County manager has not complained once about his club being one of those handed 3-0 defeats for this season’s League Cup in line with the SPFL rules for teams unable to fulfil their fixtures.
Those back-to-back results made qualification into the knockout stages impossible for County as they began their delayed campaign with a 1-0 win at Brora on Wednesday.
Falkirk, Kilmarnock and Morton have all landed 3-0 losses for failure to compete in similar circumstances this summer.
Mackay, former performance director at the Scottish FA, has taken the defeats on the chin and stressed he has respect for the SPFL and the League Cup.
Rules rolled over from European competitions
SPFL rules state about the group stages of this cup: “any team unable or unwilling to field a team in a Premier Sports Cup Round 1 group stage tie, will forfeit the match on the basis of a 3-0 defeat.”
However, Mackay has asked the question about the level of punishment and explained that it stems from UEFA competitions and had not been changed when the pandemic hit the game.
He said: “I spoke to Callum Beattie (SPFL secretary) on that and I know Neil (Doncaster, SPFL chief executive) well and my only question was ‘why 3-0?’ I think it may be something that could be looked at next year.
“We might not hopefully be in this (Covid) situation next year. The 3-0 ruling was taken from Europe and they applied it and, of course, maintained the same rules as last year.
“The counter argument to that is when the European competitions applied that rule it was for teams not fulfilling their fixtures for a certain reason, so you are punishing them twice – with a defeat and the fact they are probably not going to go through.
“This is slightly different because this has been the result of a global pandemic. That was seen when Public Health Scotland and environmental health, the government and the JRG (joint response group) came in. They looked at everything here at the club and were quite happy to let us crack on.
“I appreciate it’s a debate, but there’s nothing going to change and we’re getting on with it. If you lose one game (because of the ruling), you could maybe still qualify, but when you lose two games then you can’t.
“We’ve just looked at the two games this week (against Brora and Montrose) and it’s been great to get the players minutes under their belts ahead of the St Johnstone game in the league next Saturday.”
Strong mindsets needed to win any game, says Mackay
County are looking to build upon their midweek win at Brora when they host League One’s Montrose on Saturday.
Mackay, who has no fresh injuries concerns, insists his players will approach all games in the same frame of mind, to boost their chances of victory.
The additions for 2021/22 so far…🙌 pic.twitter.com/pu3dE2fBMq
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) July 20, 2021
He explained: “The Montrose game is another great one for us. I actually thought the matches in the group would have been terrific for us for pre-season as well as being a cup competition.
“We have to go into Saturday’s game with the same attitude as we showed against Brora. It really doesn’t matter who you play.
“For example, when we played Elgin a few weeks ago, had we gone there with a certain mindset, we could have been turned over.
“It was the same on Wednesday. If we hadn’t kept pressing Brora every time to get the ball back then when you allow a team into a game you allow that confidence to grow. That’s when it can become a real game.
Brora Rangers 0-1 Ross County
Alex Iacovitti’s header early in the 2nd half gives County the win! pic.twitter.com/EiWE4xkkvE
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) July 21, 2021
“You can see why Brora beat Hearts. They have some really good players and Steven Mackay should be proud of the team he has there. I hope they do well in the Highland League this season.
“We have to apply ourselves in the exact same manner against Montrose. We will go into every game this season, while respecting the opposition, making sure we are on it.
“It allows us to play them on our pitch here and it’s great for the team to be back home again.”
Transfers almost complete for Dingwall club
Mackay, who confirmed on Monday he’s targeting five further signings during the transfer window, said two or three “are on the verge” of being confirmed, with medicals and paperwork still to be concluded.
- Ross County director James MacDonald has this week been elected to serve on the SPFL Premiership board for next season along with Ron Gordon (Hibernian) and Stewart Robertson (Rangers).
- The SPFL board includes three Premiership representatives, two from the Championship and two covering League One and League One, one as an alternate director.
- In the Championship: Les Gray (Hamilton Academical), Ross McArthur (Dunfermline Athletic) and for Leagues One and Two: Alastair Donald (Forfar Athletic), alternate director – Paul Hetherington (Airdrieonians).
- This was confirmed in Tuesday’s SPFL annual general meeting.