NOT even a biblical rainstorm and a dramatic drenching could stop the Scotland juggernaut from rampaging through Stalin’s red and white army – sending us to the unbeaten dreamlands of another major tournament.

Supporting Scotland’s national ­football team has never been straightforward, but six days of rain in one eventful hour in Glasgow meant that this remarkable game lurched from one edgy possibility to ­another.

Scotland took an early lead as ­Callum McGregor, our own CalMac, ferried through the Georgia defence. The nerve-settling opener was then in doubt, when the relentless rains threatened to abandon the match. Fortunately, the ­Hungarian referee chose to postpone until the ­weather settled, rumours suggested the game might continue behind closed doors in Paisley the following night, then the ­referee with Uefa at his back, stared down the Georgian players and gave them the ­ultimatum of playing on or risk ­forfeiting the match and conceding a 3-0 victory to Scotland.

These unprecedented events have ­added more folklore to the rich ­mythologies of the Tartan Army. They sang through the nervy delays doing kitsch renditions of Singing In The Rain and turned Travis’s Why Does It Always Rain On Me into a new Scotland anthem.

More than anything, Scotland fans love to improvise and throughout the storm they cheered on the efforts of Hampden auxiliary staff as they vainly cleared the pitch of surface water, using industrial brushes which to quote the Daily Record, they brandished like “curlers on steroids”.

Even in torrential rain, Scottish ­football has never seemed quite so healthy, but success can conceal a hundred cracks. Behind the scenes, so many issues ­remain unsettled and ready to rear their ­controversial heads when the elation dies down.

Hampden remains a massive question mark. Revered by some for its old-school atmosphere and loathed by others for its distant vantage points. Plans to renovate the stadium, by lifting it, shifting it on its axis or turning it into a sci-fi ­astrodome never seem to travel far from the drawing board.

Another obvious underlying challenge for the Scottish Football Association (SFA) is the television broadcast deal they struck with Viaplay, the Scandi media group who deploy a paywall and ­subscription system for Scotland games. Many feel cheated from what they think is an inalienable right to watch the ­national team free of charge.

Only a small section of Scots has been able to follow the progress of ­Steve Clarke’s side and last week, the MP Gavin ­Newlands told Westminster it was ­“inherently unfair” that fans cannot watch Scotland’s men’s games for free while those in England and Wales can.” Newlands has asked for a meeting with Culture, Media and Sports Secretary Lucy Frazer to “fix the issue”.

It is alas an issue that is not easily fixed unless Viaplay rips up its contract, and the public service broadcasters are bounced into action. Or some otherwise nameless billionaire treats the nation to a freebie.

Viaplay has only recently sacked its CEO and announced a ­massive cost-­cutting exercise, paring back an ­expansion into feature film ­production. Generosity is not currently on its radar.

Channel 4 has found the money to screen some England games but against a very different commercial backdrop to Scotland. With a population of more than 50 million, England games are hugely ­attractive to advertisers and the sizeable mainly male audience can command a premium in the ads market.

Channel 4 has not and never will have the resources to go toe-to-toe with Sky or BT Sport for the Premiership and so ­televising England games are likely to be the exception, not the rule.

As for Scotland, our much smaller ­domestic market is less likely to attract the premium or the major global brands the way that English football can. That may be a frustrating reality, but it is an ­inescapable fact.

Being a small country and fleet-of-foot has many market benefits but rarely when it comes to securing broadcast rights.

ONE straw that many still cling to is the now archaic concept of “crown jewels” – those events that are protected from the market and reserved for public service broadcasters, traditionally the BBC.

In 1991, the home secretary ­Kenneth Baker devised a list of events not ­permitted to be broadcast solely on pay television services. The practice was placed on a statutory footing by the Broadcasting Act 1996, and since then it has been tweaked to include Paralympic sports and women’s football.

Only one Scottish event is included in the list – the Scottish Cup Final – and it would take either independence or a ­monumental campaign from sports fans north of the Border to include Scotland’s qualifying games on the protected list.

Those that want wider coverage of Scotland matches mostly emphasise ­tournament football, where ­organisers like Uefa and Fifa have a vested ­commercial ­interest in maximising ­global ­audiences, and so focus on global brands like ­Mastercard and Coca-Cola ­offering them near saturated exposure to ­European ­television.

But beyond the finals, there is a sizable number of people who want to see all our nation’s games across men’s and women’s football to be free to air.

One possible solution is a model where a commercial brand underwrites the ­televising of games in partnership with a broadcaster. Whilst that is an ­attractive idea, it crashes into another ­major ­challenge for Scottish football – the brands that currently support the game.

In a fascinating article by ­Maurice Smith in the latest edition of the ­excellent Scottish football magazine Nutmeg, Smith outlines the extent to which ­Scottish ­football has become ­reliant on ­sponsorship from either betting ­companies or alcohol brands.

In 2021 Rangers agreed to a three-year extension to their shirt sponsorship deal with online casino company 32Red, a tie-in that brings upwards of £1.2 million into the Ibrox coffers. Dundee United are sponsored by QuinnCasino and ­Celtic have signed a seven-year agreement with the online gambling brand ­Dafabet, ­supposedly the biggest of its kind in ­Scottish football.

The English Premier League has ­already announced new proposals to ­restrict ­gambling promotion, which is likely to impact Scottish football too. The voices of opposition to gambling and sport are ­getting louder. In Sweden, ­recently ­Betfair received a penalty fee of 4 ­million Swedish krona over ­allowing ­betting on under-21s football, when ­according to the regulatory framework in the region, ­operators are only allowed to offer ­markets on the four biggest leagues.

For now, the shift of gambling online and the need to take punters along for the ride, has underwritten a huge surge in the shirt sponsorship market and match day advertising. But tomorrow is another day.

Football is at a crossroads and it’s ­impossible to make sense of next ­season, never mind the long-term future. As ­gambling sponsorship surges, so too does the social purposes that have turned football fans into fundraisers, foodbank agents and charity advocates. Whilst the big Glasgow clubs carry the logos of ­online gambling Hearts have ­recommitted to the motor neurone disease charity MND Scotland.

When Scotland take to the field in ­Germany next summer, and I am more than certain they will, it is likely to ­underline one of the great media ­contradictions of our times. Scotland will play in front of the biggest travelling ­support the Scottish national team has ever mustered, the vast majority armed with a phone, a camera and the world wide web in their sporrans. The team will carry the logo of BT, a telecoms ­company that is increasingly seen as a home entertainment hub. But amidst all this change, back home the matches will generate the biggest traditional television audience in Scotland’s modern history.

Those that are convinced that the ­internet has killed television will have some explaining to do. Scotland are back – and so is the telly.