Scottish Premiership play-offs 'pathetic' and 'anti-sport' - Ayr United's Ian McCall

Ayr United manager Ian McCall
Ian McCall's Ayr finished fourth in the Championship
Scottish Premiership play-off quarter-final, first leg: Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Venue: Somerset Park, Ayr Date: Tuesday 7 May Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW and BBC Sport online

Ayr United manager Ian McCall says "it's utterly pathetic" to expect his side to play four games in 11 days during the Premiership play-offs.

He claims the rules are a "carve up" to favour the side finishing second bottom of the top flight.

Ayr, who finished fourth in the Championship, host the first leg of the quarter-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Tuesday.

"At that schedule, it's not sport - it's anti-sport," McCall said.

"If we progress, by the time we play Dundee United on the Friday night, we'll have played four games in 11 days."

Caley Thistle, who finished third, host the second leg on Saturday, with the winner visiting runners-up United in the first leg on Tuesday.

The second leg of the semi-final will be played on Friday 17 May, with the winner of that moving on to host the fist leg of the final against a Premiership side on Thursday 23 May.

Whoever finishes second bottom in the top flight, which is between Hamilton Academical and St Mirren, will host the second leg on 26 May.

McCall suggests "the fairytale" of progressing from third or fourth in the Championship to win promotion was unrealistic.

The only sides to have won promotion to the Premiership in the six years of the current play-off system are Hamilton in 2014 and Livingston last season - and both had finished as runners-up.

"I don't know who set the rules, whether it was the SFA, or whoever, but it's as if they are saying - you can't achieve, sorry," McCall told BBC Scotland.

"That's what they do for the Champions League and we slag them for it - they carve it up for the big boys.

"It's so wrong, it's unbelievable. That not to say we can't do it. We'll do our very best to do it."

Ayr are underdogs and McCall plays the siege mentality - analysis

Former Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager and Ayr United defender John Hughes on BBC Radio Scotland

I don't think Ayr United have beaten Inverness this season. I think John Robertson's side will take confidence from that and, if he gets all his best players on the pitch, I just fancy them to nick it.

But don't underestimate Ian McCall. I've worked with him and he's a good friend of mine and the job he's done is remarkable.

Don't forget, they've come up from winning promotion last year to make the play-offs - he could have been up for manager of the year.

He always plays that siege mentality, the underdog, everything's against him, but I think it will be very close. When you have players like Moffat and Shankland who can score goals out of nothing, they've always got a chance.

Scottish Professional Football League play-offs

Premiership

Tuesday 7 May - quarter-final, first leg: Ayr United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle (19:45 BST)

Saturday 11 May - quarter-final, second leg: Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Ayr United (15:00)

Tuesday 14 May - semi-final, first leg: Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Ayr United v Dundee United (19:45)

Friday 17 May - semi-final, second leg: Dundee United v Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Ayr United (19:45)

Thursday 23 May - final, first leg: Ayr United, Dundee United or Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Hamilton Academical or St Mirren (19:45)

Sunday 26 May - final, second leg: Hamilton Academical or St Mirren v Ayr United, Dundee United or Inverness Caledonian Thistle (15:00)

Championship

Tuesday 7 May - semi-finals, first leg: Montrose v Queen of the South, Raith Rovers v Forfar Athletic (19:45)

Saturday 11 May - semi-finals, second leg: Forfar Athletic v Raith Rovers, Queen of the South v Montrose (15:00)

Wednesday 15 May - final, first leg: Lowest-ranked team at home (19:45, Live on BBC Alba)

Saturday 18 May - final, second leg: Highest-ranked team at home (16:05, Live on BBC Alba)

League One

Tuesday 7 May - semi-finals, first leg: Annan Athletic v Stenhousemuir, Edinburgh City v Clyde (19:45)

Saturday 11 May - semi-finals, second leg: Clyde v Edinburgh City, Stenhousemuir v Annan Athletic (15:00)

Tuesday 14 May - final, first leg: Lowest-ranked team at home (19:45)

Saturday 18 May - final, second leg: Highest-ranked team at home (15:00)

League Two

Saturday 11 May - final, first leg: Cove Rangers v Berwick Rangers (15:00)

Saturday 18 May - final, second leg: Berwick Rangers v Cove Rangers (15:00)

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