Partick Thistle boss Alan Archibald paid tribute to his squad after avoiding the play-offs to secure top flight football next season.
It’s been a nerve-racking time for Archibald in the run-in to the end of the season but last Wednesday’s 4-2 victory against Hearts was enough to guarantee Thistle a place in the SPFL - finishing 10th in the league.
The gaffer said: “The lads have been outstanding and a credit to themselves and the club. The team deserved to stay up for refusing to ditch their philosophy of free-flowing football – even when they were in danger of going down.”
And Archibald said that securing their place in the top flight was one of the highlights of his career, adding that it was a better feeling than when the Jags won the Championship last term.
He said: “It’s difficult to put it into words, it’s huge for everyone at the club. I’ve been here through relegations and it’s horrible. It affects everybody and everything you do. Staying up is a feeling of massive relief and a better feeling than winning the Championship last year because of the tension involved and the relief at the end.”
However, following a disappointing defeat at home to Ross Country last Saturday Thistle dropped from seventh place to 10th which has cost them £200,000 in the ‘points mean prizes’ stakes. This will impact on the buying power that Archibald has for new players next season.
The gaffer is now out to build on the team for a prolonged stay in the Premiership and is using teams like St Johnstone, St Mirren and Inverness as his benchmark.
On the player front defender Lee Mair will not be offered an extension to the short-term deal he has at Thistle.
The 33-year-old was brought to Firhill in January after he was allowed to leave St Mirren. He played a crucial role in securing last week’s 4-2 win over Hearts, but Archibald is now looking for another central defender to add to the options he has of Conrad Balatoni, Gabriel Piccolo and Aaron Muirhead.
Thistle are also set to lose left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair as he considers his future ahead of a Bosman switch this summer.
Steven Lawless and Christie Elliott are out of contract this summer, but Archibald is keen to retain both.