ALEX Salmond faces an immediate obstacle if he has plans of returning to Holyrood next year.

When he resigned from the SNP in August 2018, the party rules stated that any member who quit had to wait for two years before they could reapply.

That means Mr Salmond cannot apply until the autumn.

However the SNP is choosing its candidates for the 2021 election right now, and the selections will be over by the time he is eligible to rejoin.

He would need a change of the party rules to overcome this, but the SNP conference and other decision-making bodies are suspended because of coronavirus.

Mr Salmond’s apparent thirst for revenge against Nicola Sturgeon also means the SNP’s National Executive Committee, which she dominates, is unlikely to help him.

This block helps explain one of Mr Salmond’s outriders, MP Joanna Cherry QC, yesterday saying he “must be allowed to re-join the party without delay”.

But it is not that simple, and if SNP HQ refuse to let him back him, it could lead to an almighty row within the party.

If Mr Salmond was let back in, he would still have to get through vetting about what even his legal team admitted had been “inappropriate” conduct with women.

Potential seats include Aberdeen Donside and Banffshire & Buchan Coast, where the incumbent MSPs are standing down.

As a close ally of Salmond, the verdict may also boost Ms Cherry’s chance of being the SNP’s Holyrood candidate in Edinburgh Central.

Mr Salmond is an expert on comebacks.

He led the SNP from 1997 to 2000 until he resigned as an MSP.

He then became leader again in 2004 and an MSP again in 2007.

After resigning as FM in 2014, he was elected MP for Gordon in 2015, a seat he lost in 2017.