Top Six Place for ParsSaturday, 23rd Mar 2002
Dunfermline`s victory over Dundee means that the Pars make the top six for the first time since this system was introduced.
Matches on Saturday March 23rd 2002 completed the final fixtures of the first phase of season 2001/02. Now, the league splits into two sections each containing six teams.
TOP SIX: Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Livingston, Hearts and Dunfermline.
BOTTOM SIX: Kilmarnock, Dundee, Dundee United, Motherwell, Hibs and St Johnstone
The top six clubs will now go on to play each other once, as will the bottom six clubs. Bringing the total number of games for each club to 38 for the season.
All 12 clubs have played a total of 33 games, having played each other three times. Clubs have played one another once at home and twice away or vice versa, and will have played 16 home games and 17 away games or, again, vice versa.
The SPL claim the primary reason behind the split is to increase the level of competition within the SPL. The following comes from the SPL Official website:
"This ensures that more clubs have something to play for, allowing for a more spirited run-in at the close of the season. The top six teams contest for European qualification, with the bottom six battling to retain their SPL status.
"It also attaches more importance to those once meaningless mid-table clashes, where clubs that were safe from the relegation zone and had dropped out of the title race, had nothing to gain or lose from playing one another. This new league set up means that the mid-table battle can be just as ferocious as those being contested at both top and bottom."
Well we certainly witnessed the competition in that crucial match against Dundee on Saturday. Now we have to wait for the five remaining fixtures to be announced.
In order to determine who plays whom and where, each club is seeded at the start of the season. Using the previous season’s SPL standings as a template for likely league positions after the first 33 games, we arrive at who plays who, where.
For example, if a club finishes in the section they were predicted to finish in, there will be an even balance of home and away fixtures. Obviously it’s highly unlikely that all clubs will finish in the section predicted and there is always the possibility of a slight imbalance in home and away fixtures, but the worst possible scenario is that a club plays 18 home ties and 20 away – something all clubs agreed to prior to introducing the system.
In the final phase of the league, i.e. the last five games, clubs play three home games and two away, or vice versa. In the majority of cases, this balances out the imbalance carried over from the first phase making the home-to-away ratio to 19-19.
The Pars have already played 17 home matches in the SPL this season so can expect only two more in the last five fixtures.
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