'The frantic race for top six is fantastic for Scottish football'

Five of this weekend’s six matches will have a bearing on who makes it into the top six.

David Martindale: Frantic race for top six is fantastic for Scottish football Alan Harvey via SNS Group

Livingston manager David Martindale reckons this weekend’s blockbuster battle for the top six is a reflection of how competitive the cinch Premiership is.

Seven teams go into the final round of pre-split fixtures with a genuine chance of landing one of the three remaining spots alongside the top three of Celtic, Rangers and Hearts.

Five of this weekend’s six matches will have a bearing on who makes it into the top six, including Livingston’s home game against a Motherwell side currently two points above them.

“It’s a brilliant weekend for Scottish football,” said Martindale.

“If you were a neutral sitting in your house, I think you’d really be looking forward to Scottish football this weekend.

“Every club in the Premiership should take massive credit for that because it’s been a highly competitive league this year. I’ve felt that myself as a coach. The energy and input you have to put into every single game is huge to get anything from them.

“It’s been a very difficult season but I think it’s been one of the best seasons in the Premiership for a while.

“You’ve got Rangers and Celtic competing at the top, and then after those two and Hearts, you’ve got another seven teams with a fantastic chance of finishing in the top six going into the last game before the split.

“It’s fantastic for Scottish football. I think we under-sell our football at times.”

The concept of the split in a 12-team league attracts criticism in some quarters as it occasionally leads to fixture anomalies whereby some clubs end up with more home games than others.

Martindale is adamant the drama it creates in the mid-section of the league is something to be cherished, however.

“Before I came into coaching, I never really gave too much thought to the split,” he said.

“But ever since I’ve come into the league, I’ve really enjoyed having the split. I think it keeps things highly competitive. I think it’s brilliant.

“If you can get into the top six, which we’ve done in the last two seasons, it takes a bit of stress away from the job because you know that worst-case scenario you’re going to finish sixth.

“Sometimes teams in the bottom six will finish with more points than teams in the top six but that comes down to the type of opponent you’re playing if you get into the top six. The split is a thing about the Scottish Premiership that I really enjoy.”

Livingston are currently a point outside the top six. A win should be enough to guarantee they finish in the top half for the third year running, but much depends what happens in other matches.

“I’m not interested in keeping an eye on what’s happening elsewhere but no doubt the crowd and other members of staff will give me an indication,” said the Lions boss.

“I’ll just be channelling all my energy into trying to pick up three points at home, although those three points could be season-defining.”

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