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Richard Gordon column: If Brechin City are allowed to escape play-off fate it will be an utter embarrassment for Scottish game

Brechin City chief Ken Ferguson.
Brechin City chief Ken Ferguson.

There were two developments in football this week at polar opposites of the game, but both left a bitter taste in the mouth.

First up came news of the proposed breakaway European Super League, which was roundly condemned, and a couple of days later, a million light years away in an entirely different football universe, came the self-serving proposal from Brechin City aimed not at allowing Brora Rangers or Kelty Hearts to make progress, but at saving their skin for a second successive year.

When the City Chairman Ken Ferguson stepped down from the SPFL Board on April 9 alarm bells began to ring.

At that time, it felt like a stage-managed departure, clearing him from the decision-making process, and allowing the board to go ahead and make a call on whether or not the pyramid play-offs should go ahead.

The cynics, and I include myself among that number, feared it was all something of a smokescreen which would end with the worst team in the country once again undeservedly retaining their SPFL status.

Brechin have branded it “fundamentally unfair” they be asked to play off for their future given the circumstances. That is utter nonsense. The Glebe Park club are not in 42nd place because of the pandemic, they are there because, for the fourth successive season, they have been truly awful.

In 2017-18 they amassed four points in the Championship and failed to win a single match. A year later they finished bottom of League One and were automatically relegated.

In last season’s truncated campaign, they were well adrift at the foot of League Two when it was called and hadn’t won in their last ten matches.

There was nothing to suggest they would have suddenly overturned their form, and yet the SPFL – with Mr Ferguson on the board – shamefully scrapped the play-offs. This season they have garnered a grand total of six points and haven’t won in 17 games.

Brechin in action against Peterhead. Picture by Darrell Benns

Compare their plummet down the leagues with the go-ahead, progressive attitude shown by Kelty, Brora and other Lowland and Highland clubs.

It is not as if Brechin face automatic relegation; they still have two matches to prove they deserve to remain in the SPFL. It will be a complete embarrassment if they are once again allowed to wriggle out of the predicament they face.

Brora Rangers deserve their chance to progress.

To be honest, the developments at the bottom of Scottish football have been of more interest to me than the proposed European Super League.

Previous similar plans have been little more than a bargaining tool for the big clubs to squeeze more money and privileges out of UEFA, but this one seemed initially to have more substance to it.

The fierce backlash was something they had not, however, anticipated, and within 48 hours Chelsea were first to blink, quickly followed by Manchester City and the other English clubs.

Banners were hung outside Liverpool’s Anfield protesting the proposals to launch a European Super League.

Real Madrid’s suggestion that the new League would “save football” was risible and a clear indication of how detached from reality these clubs are.

The quick demise of the ESL was to be welcomed; I await further good news from the SPFL.

Leigh Griffiths body blow aside, Stephen Glass’ start at Aberdeen has been positive

Despite the gut-wrenching late equaliser netted by Leigh Griffiths on Wednesday night, it has been a positive start to the Stephen Glass era at Pittodrie.

The Scottish Cup win over Livingston was as important as it was nerve-wracking, and the team began against Celtic in a manner which suggested they had taken confidence from the victory.

They were pushed back by the visitors and rode their luck for a fair chunk of the game, but still managed to create decent chances and looked dangerous on the counter attack, a tactic which served the Dons well when they were at their peak under Derek McInnes.

It will inevitably be a slow transformation as the new management gets to grips with the task in hand, but we will hopefully see improvements week by week, and this period could be crucial for Stephen as he plans for the next campaign.

Securing third place always looked a stretch, even more so now, so the main focus has to be on the cup and booking a return to Hampden next month. If the players build on the last couple of matches, they should do just that tomorrow afternoon.

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