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SPL chief has sympathy for Well

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster has expressed his sympathy for Motherwell after the club were angered by the fixture schedule laid down following the league's controversial split.

• Moir on SPL split

The final five fixtures of the season have not been kind to Motherwell who will have to play Celtic away for the third time this season, denying them a lucrative home tie against one of the Old Firm. Motherwell will also play 18 home league games this season and 20 away from home.

Doncaster, who concedes that there are issues with the current system and has pledged to investigate possible alternatives, understands why Motherwell chief executive Leeann Dempster claimed the situation had "sporting and financial implications" for the club.

"I can certainly sympathise a great deal with Leeann and with everyone at Motherwell," Doncaster told the BBC. "To have 18 home games when you are expecting 19, and budgeting for 19, that is unfortunate and it's a great shame for them.

"But they are not alone. Over the years, Gretna, Kilmarnock, Inverness, Aberdeen, Livingston, have all had seasons where they have had 18 home games. Because of the way the split operates, as soon as Aberdeen were not in the top six this year, there was automatically going to be an imbalance. There was no way that we could have created 19 home and 19 away for every club.

"That is a real problem for Motherwell, and I do sympathise, but that is a direct result of the split. It's not a question of anyone at the SPL deciding that that's what they would like to do. It's a direct result of having the split system and the way the fixtures were organised. Someone was always going to have 18 home games this season.

"It's not a question of anyone at the SPL saying 'We actually think that Motherwell should be the team with 18 home fixtures' - it's purely as a result of the fixtures that are laid down by the board that are recommended to it."

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