Raith Rovers: Manager Ian Murray wants to see significant overhaul of 'unfairly weighted' Premiership play-off system

Raith manager Ian Murray would like to see Premiership play-off system changed (Pic by Simon Wootton/SNS Group)Raith manager Ian Murray would like to see Premiership play-off system changed (Pic by Simon Wootton/SNS Group)
Raith manager Ian Murray would like to see Premiership play-off system changed (Pic by Simon Wootton/SNS Group)
Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray wants to see the exisiting Premiership play-off format changed as he feels it is weighted much too unfairly against teams at Rovers’ level who are trying to get promoted from the Championship.

The current set-up sees the sides finishing third and fourth in the second tier – this season it’s Queen’s Park and Partick Thistle – battling it out in a two-legged quarter-final with the winners playing the Championship runners-up – this term it’s Ayr United – over a two-legged semi-final before yet another two-legged final fixture against the side ending second bottom of the top flight, with only one team from all that ending up in next season’s Premiership.

And Murray, whose team’s play-off aspirations this season faltered late on amidst an injury crisis which ultimately led to them finishing seventh, is not enamoured with the gruelling ‘jumping through hoops’ nature facing second tier sides in their bid to reach the big time via the play-offs.

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"I’ve never been involved in the premier league play-offs,” ex-Airdrieonians manager Murray told the Fife Free Press. "It’s an incredibly difficult route and I still can’t quite understand why it should be different from any other league.

"Hopefully in the next few years that can be sorted out because it’s a very hard ask of Partick Thistle and Queen’s Park in particular to go through six games at this stage of the season when the jackpot’s so high.

"It’s really weighted towards the Premiership team. Probably the reason we’ve got this system is nobody wants to miss playing against the Old Firm.

"We go on about fair play and looking after players and it just goes against everything that’s preached about but unfortunately money always wins.

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"We always wanted to be in those play-offs this season and we were always trying to be in them.

"But I think our mindset towards the last few games was: ‘Thank God we’re not in a stressful situation’ given what we had to work with in terms of numbers, which kind of made it impossible.”

One thing that can’t be argued against is that the play-offs can provide considerable excitement, as illustrated by the 6-2 home Championship play-off semi-final first leg win for Murray’s former club over Falkirk on Tuesday evening.

“It was a fantastic result for Airdrie,” Murray said. “I had been at the game on February 25 when Falkirk won 3-1 but I said to a lot of people that was a false result in my opinion.

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"There wasn’t much in it and I thought Airdrie were very close to doing what they did on Tuesday night.

"I didn’t see a 5-0 half-time scoreline coming that’s for sure. But I did fancy Airdrie and I do fancy them this season to come up although there’s a long way to go with three games to play.”

Meanwhile, Murray gave his reaction to the arrival of the new consortium which has just bought a controlling stake in Raith Rovers from outgoing supremo John Sim.

The Raith boss added: “I’m delighted, I think it’s going to be a big help.

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"I think they’ve got a lot of exciting staff still to add to their group. I think the important thing for me was that when I first spoke to them, you’re probably talking before the cup final, they were very supportive of myself and the players, very realistic on the expectations and also the way the season had gone.

"They had watched a lot of us and they’d done their homework as a team and as individuals. It’s been good, it shows that we’re all working together, trying to go for the same goal and all do our best to support each other.

"If one of us is having a hard time then we help them and if it’s myself then they help me.

"It’s a new working environment for me with new people and that’s sometimes a good thing.”

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