Wednesday 21 March 2018

SPL cannot extend season - Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith does not anticipate an extension to the season to cope with a potential backlog of fixtures after the Ibrox club had a similar request rejected three seasons ago.

The Glasgow giants were "bitterly disappointed" when the Scottish Premier League denied them the later finish to the season they were seeking as they faced a crippling schedule en-route to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

That gruelling run saw Smith's men play nine games in 24 days, and they eventually missed out on both the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title and the European silverware.

With a number of fixtures already falling victim to the weather conditions, including Rangers` rescheduled trip to Tannadice tomorrow night, an extension to the campaign could become a possibility - but not as far as Smith is concerned.

He said: "They can't extend the season because they wouldn't do it for Rangers a couple of seasons ago so they're not going to do it now, are they?

"Surely, if the season is not going to be extended for one team, then they can't extend it for any of the rest of them.

"If they wouldn't do it for one team two seasons ago, why would they do it now?

"I don't think we've reached the stage where it has to be extended anyway. Surely there are enough midweeks that we can fit the games in, I don't think there is any need to extend the season so far.

"Our problem is if we stay in the cup competitions and the Europa League, that obviously gives you more matches to play."

At the time, Celtic expressed concerns about the integrity of the competition if the SPL agreed to an extension and Smith added: "There was only one team going to get the benefit of the season not being extended at that stage and that was Celtic. That's fairly obvious.

"So they refused to do it then and they can't do it now. Is that not fairly straightforward?"

As well as battling on the domestic front, Rangers could embark on another European run after being paired with Sporting Lisbon in the last 32 of the Europa League.

Smith said: "Of course the benefit would be for us and that would be a benefit we would have accepted.

"But we would have accepted it two years ago and tried to get it and they said no, there was no way they would extend the season for any team.

"Therefore, they will not extend the season this season either. If they wouldn't do it for Rangers, then why would they do it for all the rest of the teams?

"The phrase 'sporting integrity' was used at the time so how could they extend it now? That would be a bit of a mystery to me.

"If one team can play four games in one week, why can't all the teams not play four games in one week?"

Press Association

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