IN normal circumstances, Auchinleck Talbot manager Tommy Sloan would be popping Champagne bottles and celebrating his second league title victory in a row.

The Scottish Junior FA crowned Talbot champions of the West of Scotland Premiership this week, but in the most bizarre manner – considering Sloan's side were incredibly sitting third in the table and 12 points behind leaders Kilwinning Rangers.

As coronavirus continues to cause destruction around the globe, the decision was made to put an end to the Junior season and award the silverware based on average points per game. And with nine games in hand over their opponents, Talbot's average of 2.56 points trumped Kilwinning's 2.12 according to that system.

Manager Sloan admits he was ready to accept the season being voided and take defeat to Kilwinning on the chin. Which is why you won't see him celebrating his side's "technicality" victory.

"The SJFA must have their reasons for doing things this way," Sloan said. "But it's been nothing to do with the clubs involved. We've had no input into anything. I was actually expecting the season to be null and void. If they had done that it would've been fine, we move on and get on with it.

"There was a bit of surprise when the club secretary sent me the news. We're certainly not celebrating or jumping up and down, it's winning on a technicality. Hopefully we can just get the season started against next season, but that looks a wee bit away still.

"To tell you the truth, I couldn't even tell you how many games in hand we actually have. I know we had a load of them and we were in a strong position if we could keep our form up like you need to do to win yourself a league. We were doing well to go and win it, but you've still got to go and do it. Circumstances are outwith our control and we've been given it on average points per game, that's the way they wanted to do it.

"We take it and move on, we're not celebrating about it. Listen, someone was going to be on the losing side, and someone has to be unhappy about things."

Talbot have been in scintillating form this season, notching 12 wins from their 16 matches. But the point, for Sloan, remains that they are not league leaders. And the competitive coach insists he would struggle to show any sort of pleasure even if they did top the pile and out of reach of their rivals.

He added: "I think, if we were sitting top of the table and couldn't be caught, that's different. But even if we were top and they called the league, I still couldn't see myself celebrating... if someone can catch you, they can catch you. It wouldn't be much different, for me.

"We've actually been to the last day of the season and we drew the game and lost the league. That's what can happen and we're well aware of that – that's another reason there will be no celebrations here.

"We had been pretty consistent through the season, we had a good run in the senior cup again. We had put ourselves in a good position but we've not been able to finish the job off.

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"We had plenty still to play for, a lot of big games and a lot of big league games. We needed the points to pull in Kilwinning but we've not been able to do things the way we wanted. It does take away from it massively, that's why we're very muted here. I'm not celebrating any title, certainly."

It is not yet known when the West of Scotland Premiership might return for next season, with football an afterthought to many during the coronavirus crisis.

Not to everyone, though, as Sloan can attest. He will continue with plans to shape his squad to retain the title in the proper way in the next campaign, whenever that may finally go ahead.

"I've not spoken to any of the players since we heard the news," Sloan went on. "That tells you something in itself, I think. The club secretary has sent the information out to everybody but we know we've not won it in the proper way.

"There are going to be no parties because for me, I will be preparing for next season. Hopefully we can retain the vast majority of players. I really hope we do start next season when we are supposed to, but I really don't know if we will. It's hard to see past the social distancing, especially in football. That's the big question now."

In the Championship, meanwhile, Blantyre Vics and Darvel were declared joint winners of the title. The former mathematically had a slightly higher average of 2.55 points per game while the latter managed a 2.523 average.