Don’t bank on clubs in top flight agree­ing to a level play­ing field

The Scotsman - - STEPHEN HALLIDAY -

Ayr United man­ager Ian Mccall didn’t hold back with his assess­ment of the Premier­ship play- off for­mat which will con­tinue when his side at­tempt to over­turn a 3- 1 first- leg deficit in their quar­ter- fi­nal away to In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle to­day.

Who­ever emerges vic­to­ri­ous when the fi­nal whis­tle blows at the Cale­do­nian Stadium will face a two- legged semi- fi­nal against Dundee United next Tues­day and Fri­day. It adds up to a pun­ish­ing sched­ule of four games in 11 days which Mccall branded “pa­thetic” and “un­sport­ing”.

There’s no doubt that the play- offs for a place in the top flight are im­per­fect and per­haps in need of some fine­tun­ing by the SPFL.

They have added some wel­come drama to the busi­ness end of the sea­son since their introducti­on in 2013- 14 when Hamil­ton Ac­cies de­feated Hiber­nian on penalty kicks in the fi­nal. But un­til last sea­son, when Liv­ingston beat Partick This­tle in the fi­nal, that was the only oc­ca­sion when the club fin­ish­ing sec­ond- bot­tom of the Premier­ship had been rel­e­gated.

Like Ac­cies four years ear­lier, Liv­ingston fin­ished run­ners- up in the Cham­pi­onship. None of the teams fin­ish­ing third and fourth in the Cham­pi­onship, thereby hav­ing to ne­go­ti­ate two more fix­tures in the play- offs, have ever earned pro­mo­tion.

In an ideal world, the four teams in­volved in the play­offs would go di­rectly into the semi- fi­nal stage and play the same num­ber of games. But don’t hold your breath wait­ing for Premier­ship clubs to lend their unan­i­mous sup­port to that par­tic­u­lar no­tion of sport­ing in­tegrity.

0 Ian Mccall: Protest.

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