Representatives from all Scottish Premier League clubs today met at Hampden Park to discuss the prospect of League Reconstruction. It was evident quite quickly that most clubs favoured a change in the SPL structure.
Henry McLeish's Football Review has recommended that the SPL move to a two-tier top flight of 10 clubs which would see all SFL clubs move under the SPL's rule. McLeish recommends a 10-team setup for the lucrative financial reasons and the cushioning payments for relegation positions for SPL1 and SPL2. Today, the 12 member clubs moved a step-forward to agreeing on the structure recommended by McLeish.
However, the new changes could be met by strong opposition from supporters in the SPL who are against the move to a 10-team SPL. A Supporters Direct poll which was answered by nearly 5,000 fans showed that 88% opposed the move to a 10 or 12 league and 77% favoured a 16 or 18 team league.
Are the SPL and fans on a head-on collision course with regards to League Reconstruction?
It would appear a 16-team league, my personal choice, has been wiped off the table completely for financial reasons. That would only leave an extension in 14 or 18 clubs and surely 18 clubs would only dilute the quality of teams within the SPL for a few years. At least with 16 teams, you would have a fluid and competitive promotion and relegation between your SPL and First Division.
Clubs like Dundee, Livingston, Airdrie and Clyde are dying on their feet in the current climate and these clubs have decent fanbases and infrastructure suitable for the SPL.
A 16-team league will provide a large variety of local derbies which will bring the fans out for sure. Two Old Firm, Two Edinburgh, Two Dundee, Two Ayrshire, Two Highland & Two Fife derbies in a 16-team SPL compared with Four Old Firm and Four Edinburgh in the 12-team SPL currently?
Even now in a 12-team SPL, the four Old Firm games a season are nowhere near as significant as they used to be. After losing Sunday's Old Firm match, Rangers can get one over on their rivals next month. Derbies should be a unique occasion in the season and a step to a 10-team league would take away the significance of a derby with four of them a season.
In the coming month, Hearts will take on Rangers twice and will play Celtic at the end of the month. That is 9 points available to Hearts is putting pressure on the Old Firm and potentially are the biggest games this season. That's excitement. That's competition. That's what the fans want!
Scottish Football will never be able to compete on a European level unless we have a major overhaul of youth football and Scottish Football becomes a conveyor belt for young talent in the SPL. Instead of clubs spending millions on average squad players, focus should be on bringing through youth players and giving them a chance in the first-team.
It's simple. The fans are being shafted. We don't want Scottish Football like 10 years ago with high debts that are unsustainable in such a small country.
We want our f****** game back!