Paul Hartley reckons the standard of the Championship will be at an all-time high next season.
Rangers are set to win promotion from League One and Hearts look all but doomed in the Premiership, which means two of the country’s biggest teams will be in the division.
With the possibility Ross County, Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock or St Mirren could also be relegated via the play-offs, the standard of Scottish football’s second tier could be frighteningly high.
“It would be a freak situation if that was to happen,” said Hartley. “When else are you going to have so many big clubs playing outwith the top flight?
“Rangers are obviously going to be in the division, and it’s going to be really difficult for Hearts, especially if they can’t add to their squad this month.
“But the introduction of the play-offs brings so many other clubs into it.
“Dunfermline could very well come up as well. So next season might just be the toughest season ever in the Championship, but it would be great for Alloa to be involved in something like that.”
Preferable to winning promotion to the Premiership? Hartley, who has been linked with ex-Hearts hero Rudi Skacel, is realistic about that.
“We’re a part-time club in a division where a lot of the sides are full-time so it’s always difficult,” he said. “We’re looking up. We’ll try to finish the season as strongly as possible and see where it take us. But if we can get Rudi in, it could help us push for a play-off place at least.”
It is doubtful, however, that Hartley will still be at the part-time club next season.
The former Scotland, Celtic and Hearts midfielder has successfully led Alloa to back-to-back promotions and has managed to steer them into the top half of the table in their first season in the Championship.
After being interviewed for the Inverness Caley Thistle job, it is likely to only be a matter of time before a top flight offer is forthcoming.
“I’m not thinking about that at all,” said Hartley. “I immerse myself in the job I have at Alloa.
“I’m at the stadium every single day and it’s a full-time job to me.”
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