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Football: STEVE: SPL HANDICAP IS FARCICAL.

Byline: LEE WEST

ABERDEEN manager Steve Paterson believes the SPL's plans to take 10 points off teams in administration next season will turn the league into a farce.

With Livingston, Dundee and Motherwell all facing up to the possibility of starting the 2004/05 season adrift from the rest, that would help the Dons' chances of finishing higher up the table.

Nevertheless, Paterson doesn't want his team to benefit from the misfortune of their rivals.

He said: "I would much rather that every side began level. It certainly isn't ideal if three teams are handicapped - it would make a nonsense of the competition.

"I don't want to be seen as the sort who who would sit rubbing his hands in glee because of what is happening at Livingston."It is sad to see what is going on, particularly when the Livingston players have worked so hard to reach the final of the CIS Cup and the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup."

While most SPL clubs hover on the abyss, Paterson believes that Scottish football will emerge stronger with a new crop of homegrown talent.

He said: "I think it was always going to come to something like this because of the amount of debt every club is carrying.

"It is a result of the 90s when most clubs got heavily in debt. Even here, pounds 7000 per week was being paid to certain players. When you have six or seven on that sort of money that adds up to pounds 3million in a year and was never going to be sustainable.

"The one positive is that young Scots will be playing regularly. The best example of that is at Hibs, where half a dozen boys under 21 are doing a great job."

CAPTION(S):

LEVEL BEST: Steve Paterson
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2004
Words:298
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