DAVID LONGMUIR, the chief executive of the Scottish Football League, has urged Scottish Premier League clubs to leave self-interest at the door and embrace his radical new blueprint for change.
The 30 lower division clubs met at Hampden yesterday to discuss league reconstruction and rubber stamp a proposal for a three-tier structure based on a 16-team Premier Division, a 10-team Championship, a 16-team First Division, and a full-blown merger of the SFL and SPL. With a new distribution model, play-offs between all the leagues, a revamped League Cup, a play-off at the bottom of the first division to link up with a new pyramid structure, but no Old Firm 'colt' teams – as a proposal along those lines was parked for the moment – the new structure could yet be in place for the summer of 2014.
The idea will be presented to the Scottish Football Association's professional game board at the end of the month but its progress remains fraught with difficulty. Although Neil Doncaster, the SPL chief executive, has seen the plans, and the top-flight chairmen will discuss the matter today, Herald Sport understands the only current mechanism whereby this scheme could be delivered would be if 11 of the 12 top flight clubs voted to effectively disband the SPL or else if the rump of them were prepared to resign, a process which takes two years to complete.
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Certain SPL clubs have their own restructure ideas and may feel they have a better chance of persuading four – in the case of a 16-team league – or 10 or 12 – in the case of the oft mooted SPL2 plan – SFL clubs to join them instead. In the case of further stalemate between the organisations, the onus would fall upon SFA chief executive Stewart Regan to take the initiative but it remains to be seen whether the governing body has the appetite to enforce a plan of action. A proposal to alter the voting rights required for SPL changes from an 11-1 tariff to a 9-3 will be reconsidered by representatives of the clubs at the start of next month.
"The mood for change is strong within the SFL and the mood for the SFL to take assertive leadership is also something the clubs are supportive of," said Longmuir. "The key issue and challenge will be to engage, persuade the SPL and SFA to help us deliver this as we believe it's right.
"If people believe we need to change to get back on to a growth curve and create a more dynamic structure, with better governance, better flow of money, opportunity to grow players, fans coming back, with commercial interests and broadcasters interested in this, we've got to be able to say lets put our Scottish football head on here and put clubs to one side for a minute. Then come back with your club and you'll benefit from this."