THE fall did not seem so far on Saturday.

Still, there were Morton players left in a heap as a 21st league defeat of the season confirmed that the Greenock side are relegated to SPFL League 1. It is a statement capable of producing a chill that was matched only by an afternoon spent exposed to the elements in Alloa, when Morton conceded two goals but also a place in a league in which they challenged for a title just 12 months ago. It would be indicative of how far the club have sunk since that a season in League 1 no longer appears beneath them.

Relegation had instead been staring the club in the face for some time, a final three fixtures against each of the top teams in the Championship not likely to have permitted hopes of league survival to endure into May. Kenny Shiels would acknowledge on Saturday that he had been giving next season consideration "for some time now" and the manager is contracted for a further year.

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That affords Morton a sense of stability, a luxury not often found at relegated clubs, and an opportunity of a head start in a prospective race to the title next term by itemising a preferred squad.

It remains the prerogative of a manager, but is a necessity for his club. Of the team which started against Alloa only one player - French midfielder Fouad Bachirou - has a contract at Cappielow next season and there will be space created to air out the dressing room in the summer. It is uncertain whether Morton will commit to staying full-time after dropping into League 1 but they are a club which will still possess both the relative financial strength and ambition that can be made to appear alluring to potential new signings.

Shiels' budget will be signed off with an addendum from the board, though. Morton had sought out big names such as Nacho Novo, Rowan Vine and Garry O'Connor this season in an attempt to diminish the threat of relegation, although the club have recouped little return on that investment. When Douglas Rae called O'Connor "hopeless" earlier this month he was combining his roles as both supporter and chairman and he will expect to be more impressed by players recruited during the summer.

"I will be here - I have got another year and of course we will bounce back," said Bachirou, whose campaign was brightened in February by an inaugural call up to the Comoros national team. "Relegation is not something I ever imagined, because I don't want to imagine that. After what happened last year I could not see us in a battle against relegation.

"We had a really bad start, with too many players who didn't really know the league. They needed time to adapt but you don't get time. I think that was a mistake we did this year but it is not just one thing. There were a lot of things."

Those faults were recounted in the past tense but will remain as background noise in Morton's season in League 1 given that the Cappielow side are to miss out on lucrative fixtures against Rangers, Hearts and, perhaps, rivals St Mirren.

"Hopefully that's us over the line now and we can look forward to next season, which will be a really good league with the teams that are coming in," said Darren Young, whose Alloa side moved seven points clear of the relegation play-off place as a result of Saturday's win.

After falling towards the foot of the table, they have at least been able to land on their feet.