Dundee United: Title win 'brilliant' after 'strange' period says Neilson

Dundee United were unbeaten in three derbies this season, beating Dundee twice
Dundee United were unbeaten in three derbies this season, beating Dundee twice

Dundee United being crowned Scottish Championship winners is "brilliant" after a "strange" period, says head coach Robbie Neilson.

The confirmation of their success - and return to the top flight - came after city rivals Dundee reversed their vote in the SPFL's ballot to end the season.

That ended a four-year absence from the top flight for United - who were relegated in 2016 after defeat at Dens.

"To finally get there is brilliant," said Neilson

"The chairman [Mark Ogren] came in last year and invested a lot of money in the club to get them where they belong.

"The sporting director Tony Asghar has come in and worked extremely hard as have all the coaches and players."

Neilson's men had eight games remaining and a 14-point lead over Inverness Caledonian Thistle when Scottish football was suspended due to the coronvirus pandemic on 13 March.

Dundee, who sat four points further adrift, had earlier on Wednesday confirmed their original intention to reject the proposal and that their ballot had been submitted before last Friday's deadline.

That vote was not received until hours later, by which time Dundee had decided to reconsider their position.

"It's been a very strange period for us all," added Neilson. "We didn't know if the season was going to get completed, when we'd be coming back, we didn't know if games were going to be played in June or July.

"To finally get over the line and get that yes vote is great for us and it allows us to get some sort of celebration, enjoy it and start planning for next season."

United's owner Ogren urged that there be "no recriminations on how clubs voted".

The American added: "It would have been thrilling to have achieved this in front of all our supporters, but I've been told on many occasions that if there is a hard way to achieve something, then we will find it.

"I believe the SPFL has found a solution that gives the industry time to regroup, catch a breath and focus on how the new season will look once the mobility restrictions are lifted," said Ogren, who took control in December 2018.

'Delight & relief' for Raith

Raith Rovers chairman Bill Clark is "delighted and relieved" that his club have been crowned League One champions.

A day earlier, Raith had insisted any attempt to deny them the title "and/or" promotion would be "vigorously resisted".

The Kirkcaldy side, who were a point clear of Falkirk with eight games left, say the "least-worst option" has been found to allow clubs to move on.

"I would like to congratulate the players, John McGlynn, Paul Smith and the entire backroom team for all their hard work," Clark added.

"We now look forward to the result of the talks on league reconstruction and hope that Falkirk join us in due course and that Stranraer will not be relegated."

'This allows us to plan and prepare'

Cove Rangers accept it would have been "difficult, if not possible" to find a solution to suit all clubs as they welcomed their League Two title win.

The former Highland League champions have secured promotion in their first year in the SPFL.

Paul Hartley's side were 13 points clear of Edinburgh City when the shutdown began.

"It was clear to us that there would be no realistic opportunity to play out the current campaign," the club said.

"Bringing the season to a close will allow us to plan and prepare for next season whenever that may be and with potential league reconstruction having taken place."

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