English League 2

Rowett: Third place is our aim

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Wed, 10 Apr 2013 12:05:00

UEFA have ordered Dynamo Kiev to play their next European match behind closed home doors due to racist conduct by their fans.

The Ukraine club's supporters allegedly behaved in a racist manner at Dynamo's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain in November last year and again in the Europa League against Bordeaux in February.

And their next home European game will be behind closed doors, a punishment they will suffer once more if they infringe again during a three-year probationary period, although the club have appealed the decision.

UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino announced tough anti-racism sanctions at a conference in Manchester on Wednesday, and his organisation has taken a dim view of the Kiev fans' conduct.

A statement on the UEFA website read: "FC Dynamo Kiev have been ordered to play their next two UEFA competition home matches behind closed doors due to racist conduct by supporters.

"The first match behind closed doors applies to the next UEFA club competition match for which the club would qualify, while the sanction for the second match is deferred for a probationary period of three years.

"The Ukrainian club has lodged an appeal against this decision and the date of the UEFA Appeals Body hearing has yet to be decided."

Dynamo are currently third in the Ukrainian league and therefore in contention to return to the Champions League.

Infantino said at the conference that, in future, there will be partial closure of stadiums for a first incident of racist abuse by fans and a full closure for a second offence.

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour has already confirmed his side will vote against plans for a new 12-12-18 set-up when the 12 Scottish Premier League clubs hold a ballot on Monday.

That has put intense pressure on Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor to put his own concerns about the proposals - which would also see the SPL merged with the Scottish Football League to form one body and a fairer financial distribution model introduced - to one side and back the plans.

With an 11-1 majority needed by the SPL to pass the scheme, County's vote now looks like it could be decisive but MacGregor will wait until Friday before making his mind up.

Gray, who claims Irn-Bru First Division clubs like his face extinction if change is not implemented next season, is hopeful MacGregor will not shoot down their survival hopes.

He said: "Until this vote actually takes place, there will be a lot of pontification and people talking a lot of nonsense to be honest.

"The bottom line is that I know Roy MacGregor pretty well and knowing the man the way I do, and I've known him for 15 years, he won't want to be the man that stops progress for Scottish football.

"He is in a really difficult position as a result of St Mirren coming out and making public what they intend to do.

"Roy will be thinking long and hard about that over the next few days and making a decision that could halt progress will weigh heavily on him.

"But he has made it clear to a lot of people that he has not made his mind up yet."

The SFL clubs have vowed to hold their own vote on the matter a week on Friday but the poll of 29 member clubs - with associate members Rangers barred from casting a ballot - could yet prove inconsequential should the SPL fail to reach the required majority.

There have been suggestions that, if that happens, the First Divisions clubs will walk away from the SFL to form SPL2.

Whatever the outcome, Gray is certain the reconstruction debate will not end before this summer.

He said: "I'm absolutely certain that this is not dead and buried.

"There are various alternatives. We still have the SFL vote and there are full-time clubs that need this reconstruction to happen for them to survive. And if it doesn't, these full-time clubs will probably take action and you know what that will mean.

"But there is no point speculating about SPL2 until we see what happens with the two votes."

Hamilton recently parted company with boss Billy Reid, with former Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson tipped to takeover at his hometown club.

Gray, though, insists he has not spoken to the Blackpool midfielder.

"Nobody phoned me to ask me to deny that or confirm that," he said. "If they had asked me, I would have told them that we have not spoken to Barry Ferguson, nor is it our intention to."

After a goalless first half, the Congolese midfielder pounced twice on mistakes by Michael Harriman to allow Albion to bounce back from Friday's 7-1 mauling at Port Vale to claim third place in League Two.

"Jacques Maghoma was brilliant," said Rowett after Tuesday night's victory at the Pirelli. "We said to the lads that we just needed to get the ball to him because we knew he could get something out of the game for us.

"He certainly did that and I think he was a worthy match-winner.

"We created lots and lots of chances and probably should have scored more, and limited Wycombe to very, very few opportunities.

"That's all we asked of the lads, to go out and do themselves proud. We let ourselves down on Friday night and that was a magnificent response.

"It's the first clean sheet we've had in a while and I'm really pleased with that.

"That might just be the win that gets us enough points to make the play-offs as the very minimum and we're now looking to make third place our aim."

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