Inverness Caledonian Thistle ace says title race is wide open ahead for top of the table clash against Kilmarnock
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SHANE Sutherland is confident performances on the park will count for far more than budgets this season in the Championship.
In five of the last seven seasons, Scotland’s second tier has seen big city clubs with big supports and superior spending power triumph in the title race.
Hearts won it by 12 points last season and Dundee United by 14 the year before. Previous to that, Ross County and St Mirren broke the trend on more modest means, but also maintained their level of top-flight spending, while Rangers, Hibs and Hearts were champions before them.
Sutherland, thriving in his second spell with Caley Thistle at the age of 30, is sure that team sheets rather than balance sheets will hold sway in 2021/22.
Kilmarnock, level with Inverness on nine points from nine, are a traditional Premiership force and are said to have maintained last season’s spending levels.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Rugby Park, though, Sutherland was bullish.
“I’ve heard it said they’ve kept their Premiership budget, but it doesn’t really matter,” the striker said. “The players could be on X, Y or Z money but come Saturday it will be 11 against 11. It doesn’t matter what the budget is, it is down to how good you are as a team and how well you perform on the day.
“If they do have the biggest budget, people will say they are the favourites for the title, but that means nothing. It is all about performances and consistency all season.”
Squad depth has favoured recent winners, an attribute Billy Dodds has despite modest funds.
“I’d imagine Kilmarnock will definitely challenge, but there are a lot of good teams in this league,” Sutherland said. “Partick Thistle have started well. Arbroath, the only part-time team, are sitting fourth. Hamilton have yet to really get going. Dunfermline, likewise.
“Equally, nobody knows who Covid might hit most. Teams could find themselves down in numbers, something nobody can control. As long as we work hard every day, we’ll be confident going into every game that we can win it.”