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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

Scottish First Division Livingston Chair Gordon McDougall has described the 12-12-18 league reconstruction proposal as “nonsense” and predicted it will "fail to be approved by clubs in time for next season," according to Stephen Halliday of the SCOTSMAN. The Scottish Premier League "hatched the controversial plan," which would see the top two divisions split into three groups of eight clubs halfway through a campaign, with backing from senior management at both the Scottish FA and Scottish Football League. In order to be put in place for next season, it "needs to be backed by 11 of the 12 current SPL clubs" and then by 75% of the 29 SFL clubs with voting rights. The SPL clubs are due to convene on April 15 to cast their votes, with some of them -- notably Ross County and St. Mirren -- "still far from certain" to support 12-12-18. The concept of splitting into three divisions of eight clubs halfway through a season was previously implemented in Switzerland but "proved unpopular and was scrapped" in '03 (SCOTSMAN, 3/26).

Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Serbia went as scheduled after members of the Tartan Army "helped clear the pitch at the Karadjordje Stadium," according to Stuart Fraser of the London DAILY MAIL. Scotland played in Novi Sad, around an hour northwest of Belgrade, and the efforts of the Scottish fans helped "the pitch pass the inspection" (DAILY MAIL, 3/26). In Glasgow, Fraser Wilson reported "scores of kilted fans picked up shovels to help clear the snow-covered Karadjordje Stadium in freezing Novi Sad." The match "was in danger of being postponed after heavy snow hit the Balkan country" Monday night and Tuesday morning (DAILY RECORD, 3/26). Also in Glasgow, Wilson wrote in a seperate piece, following the official pre-match meeting between FIFA and both associations Tuesday morning "an appeal was made for locals and Tartan Army volunteers to help clear the pitch so that an official inspection of the surface underneath the snow could take place" (DAILY RECORD, 3/26).

FIFA has dismissed Costa Rica's protest against losing 1-0 to the U.S. in a World Cup qualifying match that was played in a snowstorm, because it was not filed correctly. In a statement FIFA said, "Therefore, the result of the match played on March 22 stands and is considered as valid" (AP, 3/26). ... ManU Manager Alex Ferguson has revealed how the club has hired a fleet of private jets to ensure its players away on int'l duty are back in time for this weekend's action. ManU plays Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday before its trip to Chelsea in an FA Cup quarterfinal replay on Monday (London GUARDIAN, 3/26).