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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Survival battle captures the fans
By Clive Lindsay
BBC Sport

The Scottish Premier League end-of-season split is not to everyone's taste, but this time round it has produced a mouth-watering battle to avoid relegation.

Dundee, Dundee United and Livingston all face a nail-biting final day on 21 May, though Dunfermline seem to be safe.

It is unlikely to do much for the health of the respective managers who will have to endure the weight of pressure that will pile on their shoulders over the next few days.

But it has certainly captured the attention of the fans.

The clubs and players may disagree, but for those trying to market the game in Scotland, it is surely a better scenario than last year, when Partick Thistle's relegation was a long-time certainty.

Jim Leishman greets the fans after victory over Dundee
Jim Leishman inspired Dunfermline to victory over Dundee
And it strengthens the argument being put forward by the likes of the Scottish Football League for copying the English example of promotion-relegation play-offs every season.

The recent Dundee derby was watched by a crowd of 11,200 - 1,400 more than watched the same fixture at Dens Park earlier in the season.

Almondvale Stadium housed 5,700 fans as Livingston beat Dunfermline, which was 800 more than the average there before the split.

And, most impressively, 8,300 watched Dunfermline thump Dundee at the weekend, nearly twice as many paying customers as there were when the two sides last met at East End Park in January.

Remaining fixtures
Livingston (Pts 34, GD -27)
21 May Dundee (home)
Dundee Utd (Pts 33, GD-19)
21 May Inverness (away)
Dunf'mline (Pts 34, GD -22)
21 May Kilmarnock (away)
Dundee (Pts 32, GD -34)
21 May Livingston (away)
It was a must-win game for the Pars, who had sacked manager Davie Hay after that Almondvale defeat, pushing them above Dundee on a goal difference boosted by their 5-0 win.

Their 1-0 defeat of Dundee United means only a catastrophic set of results on Saturday would lead to them being demoted.

Dundee's players troop off East End Park after defeat
Dundee must recover from their East End battering

No-one can doubt the motivation of the other two bottom-six sides - Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonian Thistle - after Killie's win over Livingston and Caley Thistle's late draw with Dundee on Saturday and those two will have a further role to play on the final day.

Things became a little clearer on Sunday, but the relegation issue will not be decided until the final day - and each of the four bottom clubs could yet be involved.

How's that for excitement?


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