Stuart Bathgate: Drama produced by SPL split

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THERE are several perfectly respectable arguments against the SPL split, and we will surely hear one of the most compelling again today when the post-split fixtures are announced.

With five games per team, there can be no even number of home and away fixtures, and a couple of clubs are always disadvantaged.

That’s always been a fair point. But on days like Saturday, when four teams had a chance of claiming sixth place, it is easy to conclude that the sheer drama of that battle makes the split worthwhile.

The league was won some time ago, and Dundee are all but down. So without the split, there would have been little to play for between now and the end of the season.

It has been real cut-throat competition these past two or three weeks, nowhere more so than at Tannadice two days ago, when Dundee United grabbed the final place with a last-gasp goal. The game could have gone either way, as Aberdeen too threw everything into the match, knowing a point would do neither team any good. Even watching it on BBC Alba, already knowing the score, it still made for a gripping game of football.

So, while United and Aberdeen deserve credit, it is hard to say anything positive about Hibs or Kilmarnock. For a fuller analysis of the Edinburgh side’s problems, see above.

As for Kilmarnock, what more could any team want in their last two games before the split than matches at home against the clubs who are currently bottom and second-bottom of the SPL? All they had to do was beat either St Mirren or Dundee, but instead they took just one point from the six on offer.

United deserve their place in the top half thanks to the spirit shown in recent games, above all on Saturday. And by the same token, Kilmarnock deserve nothing less than a place in the league’s lower half.