St Mirren legend Lapsley mourned

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Davie Lapsley, one of St Mirren's most famous players, has died aged 76 after a long illness. Lapsley was captain of the Love Street side when they won the Scottish Cup in 1959, arguably the Paisley club’s finest hour despite winning the cup again in 1987.

Saints chairman Stewart Gilmour paid tribute, saying: "Davie Lapsley is a name known whenever or wherever Paisley Buddies meet, and he was a true Saints legend even to those of us who never saw him play.

"Forty years after his last game for the club, he was held in awe and high esteem by everyone at the ground."

He leaves a wife, Dinah, and son Alan, and his funeral will take place at Falkirk Crematorium at 10.30am on Saturday.

Meanwhile, St Mirren could find themselves in the UEFA Cup next season despite being stranded at the wrong end of the Scottish Premier League, just two points ahead of bottom club Dundee United.

One Scottish club are in line for a UEFA Cup place through the Fair Play system, and if national coach Craig Brown, his players and the Tartan Army behave themselves until the end of the season, St Mirren could go into Europe as Scotland’s best behaved side.

Every year, European football’s governing body rewards fair play by handing out UEFA Cup places to the most sporting nations. Two of the three places are decided in a draw, but Scotland are already in line for the automatic spot that goes to the national association with the best overall record. At the moment, Belarus hold the top position, with Scotland less than 0.2 of a point behind, Sweden and Slovakia following closely.

If Scotland do manage to overhaul Belarus, then the winner of the SPL’s own fair play league will go straight into the 2001-02 UEFA Cup, along with the third-place team in the SPL and the Scottish Cup-winners, assuming the latter team have not already qualified for that competition or the Champions League. At the last reckoning, it was St Mirren who were Scotland’s fair play leaders.

It seems all but certain, therefore, that a Scottish team will at least go into the hat when the draw is made.

The fair play points are awarded through a complicated set of criteria for UEFA competition matches, and with all the Scottish teams now out of both the Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions, Scotland’s hopes of an auto-matic place rest on the international teams, at all levels down to under-16.

A precedent has already been set in Scotland as they topped the Fair Play league two years ago, sending Kilmarnock - that year’s best-behaved team - into last season’s UEFA Cup, where they were beaten by the German side, Kaiserslautern.

The points are awarded on objective and subjective criteria, with yellow and red card totals a prominent feature. But the marks also depend on the impressions gained by UEFA assessors, who grade the attitude of the players, officials and even spectators.

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