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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 11:41 UK

Smith angered by Lawwell remarks

Rangers manager Walter Smith
Smith is baffled at the lack of support being shown to Rangers

Walter Smith has criticised Celtic's Peter Lawwell over his claims that the integrity of the SPL would be harmed by an extension to the season.

"Peter Lawwell appears to be the chairman of the sporting integrity committee for the SPL," said the Rangers manager of the chief executive.

"Peter would be better coming out and saying he wants Rangers to play four games in a week.

"It suits his team and helps their quest to retain the championship."

The Ibrox club will have to play four games in eight days in the chase for the title.

If Rangers manage a score draw or better against Fiorentina on Thursday in the second-leg of the Uefa Cup semi-final, they will reach the final to be held in Manchester on 14 May.

In this case, the SPL season would be extended from Sunday 18 May to Thursday 22 May.

If Rangers do not reach the Uefa Cup final, they must still contest four league games within eight days, with two extra league games being squeezed into the vacated Uefa Cup final week.

The four matches in that run are Saturday 10 May Dundee United (H), Tuesday 15 May St Mirren (A), Thursday 17 May Motherwell (A) and Sunday 18 May Aberdeen (A).

Having defeated St Johnstone after extra-time and penalties in the Scottish Cup semi-final, Rangers will face Queen of the South on Saturday 24 May, less than 48 hours after their last league match, at Pittodrie.

It is this hectic run and Lawwell's remarks that have riled Smith.

"If it was the other way about, I would be hoping that Celtic had to play four games in a week," said Smith.

"So he should be honest about it instead of trying to hide behind what he is calling sporting integrity.

"He's doing what he feels is the right for his club by saying the season shouldn't be extended, but he's doing it for his own reasons.

"The thing that bothers me most is that the SPL have this season acceded to every request Celtic have made."

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Smith suggests that the league administrators would have known that "one of the biggest games of the season" was being scheduled between two semi-finals involving his side.

"I don't mind playing four games in a week," he said. "Celtic are using that situation to their advantage, but that's what it's all about.

"We have got to overcome that if we are to win the championship.

"The most galling aspect is that they have given Celtic everything they asked for and Peter is still complaining."

The Rangers manager added that more should be made of the benefits to be enjoyed by Scottish football by his team's run in the Uefa Cup.

"If Rangers are helping raise the profile of Scottish football, helping raise the co-efficient and giving us extra European places, then surely we should be getting a little bit of help," he added.

"If the SPL think that's the way to treat their teams then that's fine. But, over the piece, I think my own club has been treated unfairly."


see also
Rangers 0-0 Fiorentina
24 Apr 08 |  Europe
Old Firm blast SPL fixture plans
22 Apr 08 |  Scottish Premier


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