UNDER-FIRE SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has insisted the controversial Premiership league split is here to STAY.

The leagues bosses were criticised for the delay in the release of the final five league games and Doncaster accepted the imperfections in the format, but maintained that it is unlikely to be dispensed with in the near future.

He said: “The split creates tight finishes top and bottom and sometimes that means helicopter finishes on the last day of the season. Ultimately, the hallmarks of our game are passion, drama and excitement and the split creates that. It is what it is and it here for the time being and we need to make the best of it.

“It is not that straightforward. You work with the broadcasters, with the clubs, with the police to try to get everything into position. Even as late as Wednesday afternoon things were changing to meet everyone’s different demands.

“There is an awful lot of work that goes on in a short period of time. Clearly, people want the fixtures as quickly as possible and that is what we want, too, but these things take time because there are so many moving parts and so many people to deal with.

”Much of the furore over the fixtures revolved around the perceived avoidance of a league decider involving Celtic and Rangers, a scenario that would have presented itself has they been paired in the first game after the split.

“As it is, it could yet transpire should Celtic fail to take all three points from Hibs at Easter Road before they face Rangers in the second game at Celtic Park.”

Doncaster added: “It is important to recognise why we have the split. As much as it creates tight finishes at the top and bottom, the primary reason why we have the split is to accommodate an appropriate number of games within a 12-team league.

“If you play twice home and twice away, you end up with 44 fixtures, if it is once home and once away it is 22 fixtures – which isn’t enough.

“If you play twice home and once away you have 33 fixtures, but then you have some awful imbalances. The split and the way it works at the moment minimises the imbalances.”

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