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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Falkirk send SPL message
John Hughes and Owen Coyle celebrate at Brockville
John Hughes and Owen Coyle have led from the front
Falkirk's joint managers have sent a "reject us if you dare" message to the Scottish Premier League after clinching the First Division title.

A 4-1 victory over Arbroath put Falkirk 10 points clear at the top and secured the silverware.

But the SPL could yet deny them the golden prize of a return to Scotland's top flight.

Falkirk do not yet have a 10,000-seat stadium of their own and face an end-of-season vote by SPL chairmen on whether to allow them to share the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie next season.

Player-boss Owen Coyle, who scored a hat-trick against Arbroath, said: "Falkirk have fulfilled the criteria.

"The rules have never said that a club cannot groundshare.

I always feel it should be challenging for Europe
Falkirk joint player-boss John Hughes
"What is says is that if you do groundshare then it goes to a vote of the SPL chairmen.

"We have seen today the support Falkirk carry. We took 3,500 to Dundee and 3,500 to Perth.

"If they are saying that such a club does not deserve to be in the SPL then I beg to differ."

It was typical of Coyle that he should lead from the front in one of the last games at crumbling Brockville as Falkirk prepare to move to their temporary home while their new stadium is being built.

"Personally, it is obviously nice to score, but in the big picture it's not important who scores," he said.

Owen Coyle waves the Falkirk flag at Brockville
Coyle's hat-trick is likely to be the last at Brockville
"The important thing as that Falkirk won the title they thoroughly deserve."

Coyle and defender John Hughes took over in January and sustained the lead built up by previous boss Ian McCall, who moved to SPL outfit Dundee United.

The joint bosses disclosed that discussions would now begin about whether they will continue next season.

Hughes is determined to continue to lead the Bairns to further success.

"We want to take the club back to where it belongs," he said.

"I always feel it should be challenging for Europe."

Falkirk player-boss Owen Coyle
"Falkirk have fulfilled the criteria"

Falkirk player-boss John Hughes
"This one is extra special to me"



Coyle hat-trick clinches title
19 Apr 03  |  Other Scottish

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