Lennon dismisses SPL play-off plan as 'absolutely ludicrous'

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon yesterday rubbished proposals for a Scottish Premier League title play-off as "absolutely ludicrous". Lennon and Old Firm rival Walter Smith have both dismissed an idea put forward by Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson for the top four teams in the SPL to contest a title decider at the end of the regular season.

Thompson mooted the plan after being unconvinced by SPL plans to move to a 10-team top division, with a play-off supplementing one automatic promotion place.

The Tannadice chairman believes the plan would add income and excitement to a league not won by a team other than Celtic and Rangers since Aberdeen triumphed in 1985.

But Lennon said: "I don't think it's fair at all, I think it's absolutely ludicrous. I saw the headlines today and I didn't even bother reading them because I just think it's a piece of nonsense.

"I've been here 10 years and if you look at the gap between the top team and the third and fourth-placed team, the gap is always quite big. So basically you're saying your season comes down to two or three games at the end of the season? Absolute rubbish."

Lennon was only slightly more amenable to suggestions for a play-off for European places outside the top two slots.

"I think that might create a bit of an interest but certainly for the championship, absolute no-no," he said. "And I don't know how that would affect the coefficient – there would be a possibility you don't have the three most consistent teams going into Europe. I don't think that would improve the coefficient. From my point of view it's one of the more silly ideas I've heard in recent weeks. In fact, it's the silliest idea I've heard in the last few weeks."

Smith also gave short shrift to the idea, which could be tabled when all 12 clubs discuss reform on 4 January.

The Rangers manager said: "Probably, when we have a lot of games, people think about the games. When there are no games, they start to conjure up different aspects. From memory, I think they tried it in Holland on one occasion. It was one occasion and then they got rid of it. If you look at the Championship in England, play-offs work as long as your first and second teams get the rewards that they deserve."

The Rangers manager was more welcoming of the proposals by the SPL's strategic review group, which were to be discussed today until the weather caused a postponement.

Smith said: "The group's proposals seem kind of sensible. We've had a 10-team league before. If we feel as though going to an 18-team league isn't going to be a viable proposition, the 10-team league avoids the split. When we had it previously, it was a competitive environment so, if we could recreate that circumstance, that would be a good thing."

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