Doncaster backs Dundee claim

16 July 2012 07:17

Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster insists Dundee deserve their place in the top flight under "sporting merit" despite protestations from Dunfermline.

Irn-Bru First Division runners-up Dundee were invited to replace soon-to-be-liquidated Rangers on Monday following the SPL's annual general meeting. The decision was backed by clubs but appeared to have been taken weeks ago in discussions between the SPL, Scottish football Association and Scottish Football League executives.

Doncaster said: "The clubs looked at it and overwhelmingly they felt that on sporting merit, Dundee had the best case and that's why they have received the invite."

Dunfermline, who finished bottom of the SPL last season, have argued that historical precedent favours them, for example bottom club Motherwell staying up in 2003 when First Division champions Falkirk failed to secure a compliant stadium.

However, Doncaster said: "That was at a time when those clubs were not compliant with SPL criteria, in which case there was no relegation. Relegation happened last year. Dunfermline were relegated, Ross County were promoted.

"This is an exceptional circumstance when there has been a further vacancy created and in those circumstances it is for the clubs themselves in the SPL to determine who they wish to invite.

"They felt that on sporting merit Dundee were best-placed to get the invitation. There was no formal vote, there was an overwhelming view that Dundee was the right call in terms of sporting fairness."

Dunfermline have vowed to take legal advice on the matter. Meanwhile, the SPL will not re-draw the fixture list even with Dundee and near neighbours Dundee United now due to play at home on the same weekend on a number of occasions this season.

Doncaster said: "The fixtures will be as they are but there will clearly be an element of flexibility required, both with potentially Rangers and Celtic being at home the same weekend, and Dundee and Dundee United being at home on the same weekend. We will work with the police and the clubs to work through those implications.

"TV will dislocate some fixtures anyway, there may be some fixtures dislocated because of European competition. All of those issues we'll have to work through with the clubs, police and the Scottish Football League."

Source: PA

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