Old Firm bosses cool on title play-off proposals

Celtic boss Neil Lennon and Old Firm rival Walter Smith are dismissive of proposals for a Clydesdale Bank Premier League title play-off.
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Celtic boss Neil Lennon and Old Firm rival Walter Smith are dismissive of proposals for a Clydesdale Bank Premier League title play-off.

The idea was put forward by Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson for the top four teams in the SPL to contest a title decider at the end of the regular season.

The Tannadice chairman believes the plan would add income and excitement to a league which has not been won by any team outside the Old Firm since Aberdeen triumphed in 1985.

But Lennon said: "I don't think it's fair at all, I think it's absolutely ludicrous.

"I saw the headlines and I didn't even bother reading them because I just think it's a piece of nonsense.

"I've been here 10 years and if you look at the gap between the top team and the third and fourth-placed team, the gap is always quite big.

"So basically you're saying your season comes down to two or three games at the end of the season? Absolute rubbish."

Lennon was only slightly more amenable to suggestions for a play-off for European places outside the top two slots.

"I think that might create a bit of an interest but certainly for the championship, absolute no-no," he said.

"And I don't know how that would affect the coefficient, there would be a possibility you don't have the three most consistent teams going into Europe. I don't think that would improve the coefficient.

"From my point of view it's one of the more silly ideas I've heard in recent weeks.

"In fact, it's the silliest idea I've heard in the last few weeks."

The Rangers chief also agreed, saying: "Probably, when we have a lot of games, people think about the games. When there are no games, they start to conjure up different aspects.

"From memory, I think they tried it in Holland on one occasion. It was one occasion and then they got rid of it.

"If you look at the Championship in England, play-offs work as long as your first and second teams get the rewards that they deserve."

The Rangers boss was more welcoming of the proposals by the SPL's strategic review group, which were set to be discussed on Monday until the weather conditions resulted in the postponement of the meeting.

Smith said: "The group's proposals seem kind of sensible. We've had a 10-team league before.

"If we feel as though going to an 18 team league isn't going to be a viable proposition, the 10 team league avoids the split.

"When we had it previously, it was a competitive environment so, if we could recreate that circumstance, that would be a good thing."

 
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