No fixture crisis yet for SPL

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Bad news

Iain Blair has revealed that the SPL fixture backlog is not yet at crisis point.

Dundee United and Rangers have been hardest hit by the cold snap with the Tannadice side having five fixtures to reschedule after more than a month without a match.

Rangers match at St Johnstone was postponed yesterday but despite his side’s growing backlog and involvement in four competitions both Walter Smith and captain Davie Weir have spoken out recently against extending the season.

As secretary of the SPL Blair has the task of rescheduling the backlog but is confident that the current backlog can be cleared.

The SPL split after 33 matches puts the onus on Blair to have the backlog of fixtures cleared by April 16 with Saturday, Monday, Thursday, Sunday schedules likely to be enforced.

“On the basis of where we are at the moment, it is manageable,” Blair explained. “We have taken all factors into account.

“For example, our fixture planner always includes all European dates. If you take Rangers, they could make the Co-operative Insurance Cup Final. Allowances are made for that as they are for the Scottish Cup and Europa League dates.

“Even taking all of these factors into account, we are still just the right side of being okay. If we were to have a further spell of bad weather and postponement of more fixtures, it would bring about some significant challenges.

“I know there was a lot of talk about 2008 and people may have wanted the season to have been extended longer than it was but it was extended. Our preference is to get the season completed within the time scale.”

Rangers fixture concerns are more in terms of the depth of their squad than the run of fixtures.

Further success in three cup competitions will stretch Smith’s squad to the limit with the Ibrox boss worried that he doesn’t have the numbers required to compete for four trophies.

He said: “We are not the best equipped squad to handle a glut of games in the second half of the season but we can’t do anything about it.

“The backlog is more of a worry because of the size of the squad. We need a little bit of good luck in terms of injuries and suspensions.

“We have to rearrange them plus two Europa League games. It will mean a couple of months of midweek games and we’ll need luck to handle that.

“It makes it difficult when there are Scottish Cup replays to take into account as well. You can’t organise games when there could be replays so it starts to become more complicated.”

One quick solution for the SPL would be to use next week to start clearing the fixture backlog.

Following the Glasgow derby on January 2 both clubs have a free week before Celtic face Berwick Rangers on January 9 with Rangers hosting Kilmarnock the following night.

In normal circumstances league games aren’t rescheduled for the week of cup-ties but with a back log to be cleared and post-split fixtures to be scheduled by April 16 the SPL need to make use of every possible date.







Great day for management bhoys

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