Points dilemma for SPL as end nears for Gretna

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The Independent Online

The Scottish Premier League expects Gretna to fulfil their next fixture against Inverness Caledonian Thistle despite fresh fears over their immediate future.

The club will play the game at Fir Park, the SPL have announced, a switch of venue from Livingston's Almondvale Stadium which is likely to ease their costs. Gretna hosted Celtic at Livingston on 23 March after ongoing pitch problems at Fir Park forced a switch from their temporary home.

But Motherwell played Hibernian there following remedial work on the surface last week and Saturday's fixture has been switched back.

The move is good news for Gretna as Motherwell promised to charge only a nominal fee for rent when the club fell into administration.

The SPL board met yesterday to discuss the ongoing crisis at the club, who were relegated on Saturday, following reports that administrators had set a deadline for a takeover. Should any deadline pass the SPL will have to decide whether to strike out points won against Gretna over the season.

Wilson Field, the insolvency firm which took control of the club's finances last month, have met several interested parties but no deal has been arrived at.

The SPL secretary, Iain Blair, has admitted the league are in an "intensive care situation" regarding Gretna and yesterday they resolved to continue that strategy. An SPL spokes-man said: "A meeting was held with the SPL board and the basic aim was to review the position of Gretna. We agreed to continue to monitor the position of the club going forward.

"We are in very close contact with the administrators and will stay in regular contact. As far as we are concerned, Saturday's fixture is going ahead."

Wilson Field had been expected to make an announcement this afternoon but they instead directed enquiries towards the SPL.

David Elliot, who heads the administration team, had expressed his determination to keep the club afloat until the end of the season to increase the prospect of a buyer being found.

But, despite being given an advance in fees by the SPL, they have faced massive difficulties in running a club who were bankrolled to the tune of around £8m by Brooks Mileson, who withdrew his funding following illness in February.

Gretna are scheduled to play Inverness at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium on Saturday but their record low SPL attendance of 501, set against Dundee United at Fir Park in February, could be in danger.

They were relegated with a 2-0 defeat at St Mirren on Saturday, days after administrators made 22 players and several more backroom staff redundant. But their demise ahead of the split, which was scheduled to take place after the next round of games, would give the SPL a huge headache over the points situation.

As well as the Inverness game, Gretna have an outstanding home match against St Mirren to play.

The SPL have refused to speculate on the strategy should Gretna fold, but taking away the points won during the season would have a huge bearing on both the race for Europe and the final top-six place.

Dundee United would move well ahead of Motherwell and Hibernian in third place having lost twice to the Black and Whites. Falkirk and Hearts, who are battling Aberdeen for a place in the top half, have also dropped points against Gretna this season.

Gretna picked up 16 points before having 10 deducted as punishment for falling into administration.

Meanwhile, the club today admitted they could not fulfil the rest of their reserve league fixtures. With just 20 players remaining at the club they were unable to play a scheduled match at Inverness and do not intend to field a reserves side again this season.

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