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Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 11:14 GMT
Fear factor worries McLeish
Alex McLeish has warned about the fear factor in the revamped SPL
Hibernian boss Alex McLeish has cast doubt on the Scottish Premier League's controversial new split-structure because he reckons it will increase negative thinking among his fellow managers.

The increase from 10 to 12 clubs was intended to remove the fear factor inhibiting teams in the top flight, but McLeish is concerned the changed format may have the opposite effect.

After 33 games the SPL will divide into two for each club's five remaining games, meaning only the top half can challenge for European places, while those who miss out must focus on avoiding relegation.

He said: "Finishing in the bottom half of the table for the last five games when the cut comes on April 7 is effectively the same as being relegated.

Hibs have had to let John Hughes move on
"That means the fear football we're all trying to avoid will start long before then as teams try to avoid upsetting their fans.


"They are unlikely to have the patience for explanations and jobs will be at risk.

"I've let players like Kenny Miller, John Hughes and Pat McGinlay go this summer. If I've messed up I'm well aware the consequences could be dire because of the new league set-up."

McLeish feels a better solution to incorporate two additional clubs, St Mirren and Dunfermline, would have been a much earlier split involving teams heading the First Division at the halfway point.

He added: "If anyone had bothered to ask me what I thought I'd have gone for splitting the league after 22 games. That would give everyone in the top 12 a total of 36 games for the season.

"I would have put the top eight into a set-up which decided the Championship and the UEFA Cup places.

"The bottom four would then join the top four in the First Division and sort out who played where for the following season."

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See also:

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