Falkirk's Peter Houston backs change to one-off play-offs

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Falkirk's Peter Houston with his Championship manager of the year award
Peter Houston has been named Ladbroke's Championship Manager of the Year

Falkirk manager Peter Houston is backing proposals for the Premiership play-off final to be played as a one-off game at a neutral venue.

The Scottish Professional Football League has set up a working group to consider the plan, with support from lower league clubs.

Houston also believes that the quarter-final and semi-final should be reduced to a single match.

"It would be an occasion like a cup final - exciting," he said.

"I'd prefer that. I look at the Hibernian versus Falkirk games, 12,000 at Easter Road and 8,000 here.

"In a one-off situation and you take it to Tynecastle, you'd probably get 20,000 for a winner-takes-all scenario."

Falkirk defeated Hibernian over two legs in this season's semi-final after the Easter Road side beat Raith Rovers, again over two games, in the quarter-final.

The Bairns then lost 4-1 on aggregate in last week's final, with Kilmarnock staying up in the Premiership, and Houston would like to see changes to the format.

"Our players were physically and mentally tired and that was us finishing second and only having four games to play," Houston said.

Falkirk's players show their disappointment against Kilmarnock
Falkirk lost their Premiership play-off final against Kilmarnock on Sunday

"If it had been a one-off situation against Kilmarnock, who knows what would have happened? We might have won it.

"It gives Championship sides a better opportunity to try to get up."

The SPFL working group has canvassed opinion and will continue to look into the proposal.

The play-offs are widely considered to be a success and change may be unlikely ahead of the renewal date for the current broadcast deal in 2020.

Falkirk's manager insists that his players will not suffer a hangover from the disappointment of falling short this season.

"It's gone out the system now," said Houston, who has been named Scottish Championship manager of the year but felt that his side had let down their fans on Sunday.

"Sunday was a really disappointing day. We took a fantastic support down there.

"Over the balance of the season, the team did magnificently well and that's why the supporters were down there.

"We were beaten over the two legs by the better team."

Gap between two leagues

The victory of the side finishing second bottom of the Premiership over the team coming through the Championship play-offs was a repeat of last year.

"It shows you," added Houston. "Over the last two years, Rangers were heavily beaten by Motherwell and Kilmarnock comfortably beat us over two legs. There is that gap between 11th and second place.

"We have to evaluate the season, which has been good in many ways and an improvement from the season before, but we have to improve further if we want to take this club into the Premier League.

"I know what has to be done and it will take some better quality and some better physicality in our players.

"We need to get a stronger squad of players, but it depends on what money the board of directors can give us to improve the side."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport