PARS back in SPL for 2008-2009?Author: Brian Duncan Date: Tuesday, 1st Apr 2008
With the Gretna debacle still rebounding around the corridors of football the SPL may be forced into a major climbdown by FIFA, allowing Dunfermline to take their place in the SPL for the start of next season.
At the end of season 2007-2008 Dunfermline Athletic were rooted at the bottom of the SPL and it was thought that a lifeline would be thrown to the Pars as it was anticipated that Gretna would not be permitted into the SPL.
Gretna rose quickly through the ranks by throwing money into a team that previously played in the Carlisle and District League and then subsequently winning the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Division Titles in consecutive years, as well as a Scottish Cup Final appearance and playing in Europe.
However, Raydale Park (Gretna`s home ground) was not fit for the SPL and dispensation had to be granted to share at Motherwell`s Fir Park, despite there being no real plan to meet SPL requirements. Even with a last minute objection from St Mirren the SPL board accepted Gretna into the SPL thus relegating Dunfermline to the First Division.
With the current status of Gretna, who don`t even know if they will be allowed back into the SFL First Division next year, a lifeline may also be thrown to Stirling Albion, who could remain in the First Division despite being at the foot of that table.
FIFA`s northern chairman Olaf Pirlo has said "At the end of last season the Scottish Premier League (SPL) board made a major mistake and they now have to resolve this issue with the utmost urgency.
We are seeking to ensure that Dunfermline are allowed back into the SPL and that they will be compensated. We have also told Dunfermline that they will be allowed to use an artificial surface, as that is another area where the SPL has erred."
As it stands the SPL authorites are looking at the situation, and may have to admit that they made a major mistake and will be be forced by FIFA to readmit Dunfermline to the SPL.
Football Director Jim Leishman was unavailable for comment but is understood to be delighted that FIFA may make the the SPL board see the error of its ways. He is looking to bring back players that should never have left Dunfermline (Adam Hammil, Jamie McCunnie, Dorus De Vries and Gary Mason).
The SPL board has issued a statement indicating that they will struggle to organise fixtures with 13 teams, as the First Division Champions will also have to be allowed into the SPL at the same time. This may result in a quick decision to expand the league to 16 teams, as they try to cope with the FIFA ruling which has come out of the blue.
The SPL and FIFA are having a board meeting at 12 noon to discuss.
Not surprisingly this plan failed to materialise so the Pars will remain in the First Division next year