the tanner ba'

Ross County F.C. 1 – 0 St. Johnstone F.C.

Get off the tracks, the County Special is coming through.

Get off the tracks, the County Special is coming through.

Folks, things are getting very interesting…

Earlier today Ross County hosted St. Johnstone at Victoria Park Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall.  Thanks to an 11th minute wonder strike from Ivan Sproule (4 goals in 4 matches since joining County during the January transfer window) and a clean sheet from County goalkeeper Mark Brown.  The win brought County’s current unbeaten run to seven matches and and they have not given up more than 2 goals (and that was in a 2-2 draw with Hearts) since losing 4-0 to Celtic just before Christmas.  Here is why things are getting so interesting…

As I’ve been saying for quite a while, based on the history of the Scottish Premier League, 37 points should guarantee that Ross County remain in the top flight in 2013-2014.  County already have 35 points with 12 matches remaining to play.  This, coupled with the fact that poor Dundee (they really did get a raw deal) have only taken 14 points from their first 26 matches and have a -32 goal differential means that the relegation “battle” is over.  Technically we need to wait out any combination of 15 points won by County or lost by Dundee, but it’s over.  So, let’s look up the table, shall we?

County are currently in sole possession of 8th place with 35 points and a goal differential of -2.  These numbers put them 1 point behind 7th place Aberdeen (the clubs are equal at -2) with a a match in hand over the Dons.  More importantly, these numbers put them one point and -2 goals behind 6th place St. Johnstone- the club they beat today.  If County can catch St. Johnstone (or whomever is in 6th place when the time comes) they will be part of the “Championship” group when the league splits after the 33rd match of the season, meaning that they will have five more matches against the clubs in this top group to improve their league position to 4th.  Why is that important?  It is important because in the SPL 4th place means a place in the Europa League.  Never mind the prestige that would come along with finishing that high up the table and qualifying for Europe in their first season in the top flight, any kind of run in the Europa League could change County’s financial situation drastically.  If you find that hard to believe, consider this:  In making it to the knock-out stage of the Champions League (bigger European competition) Celtic (bigger club) have essentially wiped-out their debt!

Talk of 4th place (and Europe) is, of course, premature- if not outright “crazy talk.”  After all, the way things stand right now County would have to catch 4th place Hibernian, whom they trail by 2 points and +2 goals, and who they have a match in hand over, and who Ross County have defeated three times in a row in SPL play and haven’t lost to in 5 matches if you throw in the two meetings from the 2010 Scottish Cup.

Couldn’t possibly happen…

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