Demotion 'unlikely' to be Airdrie's fate

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The Independent Football

The Scottish Football League secretary, Peter Donald, believes that it is "unlikely" that Airdrie will be demoted to the Third Division after the Diamonds' final First Division game of the season, at Ayr United on Saturday, was abandoned after 21 minutes following a pitch invasion by around 80 supporters at Somerset Park.

The fans were demonstrating against the Ayr chairman, Bill Barr, whose construction company built Airdrie's stadium and who is the Diamond's biggest creditor. They blame Barr for the crisis at the club, who face the prospect of going into liquidation unless a buyer comes forward with a rescue package.

The pitch invasion immediately followed Stewart Kean's opening goal for Ayr. Protesters surged on to the field before tearing down the crossbar from one of the goals. The ugly scenes prompted the local Tory MSP, Phil Gallie, who was sponsoring the match, to call for Airdrie to be demoted to the Third Division in order to set an example to supporters around the country.

Donald said that any punishment would be decided by the Scottish Football Association. "I think it would be unlikely that [demotion to the Third Division] would happen but it isn't the responsibility of the Scottish Football League.

"Any punishment is a matter for the SFA's disciplinary committee to determine following the invasion of supporters on the pitch."

The SFA's security advisor, Willie McDougall, was present at the game. The SFA will examine reports from McDougall and the game's referee, Bobby Orr, before deciding if any action should be taken.