Davie Rae faces Palmerston Park poser

DAVIE Rae is gearing up for the decision he does, yet doesn't, want to make.

Palmerston Park's open terracing may represent a fine historic sight and offer a terrific atmosphere – as has been proved in recent cup ties against SPL opposition – but it remains inadequate for top-flight football, say the rules.

If Queen of the South are to maintain their terrific early-season form and remain in the running to win the First Division, Rae knows he must take the plunge and install two new stands. Unsurprisingly, the colourful chairman will have no qualms about doing so if it means Queen's rise to prominence continues, but it would be done only with a heavy heart.

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"I think January is the time we will have to make a call on that," said Rae of potential redevelopment. "If we can get through a tough November and December and are still up there in mid-January, then I think we will have a feel for how the season is going to go. Then it is a case of having something in place, or a guarantee, for around another 3,000 seats by the end of March.

"We could do it and we will do it if need be. The other option would be moving from Palmerston and we would never even consider that.

"When we were in Inverness earlier in the season, their directors told me how they put two stands up in 40 days. We would have to look at whether it was just basic structures we would put up, which could cost less than 1 million, or something more elaborate; the latter would obviously depend on funding. It would be a difficult one, but obviously we would like to have that problem."

Not that Rae meets the whole scenario with glee. "I think it is absolutely ridiculous that there is no standing allowed at SPL grounds," he stressed. "We had a mass of people standing at the old Portland End here against Rangers earlier in the season (in the CIS Cup] with not one problem.

"We can host Rangers, Hibs and Dundee United – SPL teams – in cup ties with big crowds and people standing on terraces. Nobody is in the least bit bothered, yet the rules are different for the top league. It seems crazy, I would love to see standing be allowed back.

"People in Dumfries turn out for matches against the top teams, the last few years have proved that. There have been more than 4,000 Queen of the South fans at these games, which stands up well against the bottom clubs in the SPL."

Rae himself, it must be noted, would be a welcome addition to the top league. His waft of hair was last and memorably celebrated by Queens' fans with wigs worn to the 2008 Scottish Cup final. That run, a fleeting appearance in Europe plus another meeting with Rangers this season, has boosted the Dumfries outfit's finances to the extent that ground redevelopment would not be ruinous. "Ah, but plenty money goes out as well," replies Rae, cannily, to the suggestion that cup bounties have set Queens up for the foreseeable future.

"I would always rather we had cup ties, at home, against teams from any other league," he added. "That's simply because we play each other four times in the First Division anyway. I would like to see reconstruction, a situation where we do not have to play four times, but I can't see that happening quickly."

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Rae's focus for now relates to this afternoon's trip to Dundee. Queens, top of the table at the expense of their free-spending rivals, travel to Tayside with no fear. The chairman hails the "brilliant" start to the season made by Gordon Chisholm and his squad, a relatively youthful bunch who have been augmented by the experience of Derek Holmes and David Lilley.

"People can say what they like, that Dundee have spent this money and that money but they forget that the club has got real value for money and spent it wisely," Rae said, highlighting Leigh Griffiths and Gary Harkins as sensible investments by Jocky Scott.

"I would still make them favourites for the league but we maybe have a slight edge over them in that our team has been together that bit longer. We went up there last season and won 3-2; I'm not going to Dens Park looking for any less than a draw this time around."

Rae's only regret? "That the game is not at Palmerston Park. With no SPL games, it would have been a great day to be at home. There would have been a brilliant crowd down here," he said.

Such gala occasions, though, may be just around the corner.