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Board 'encouraged' but league reconstruction still no closer

Members of the Scottish Football Association's Professional Game Board were "encouraged" by a meeting on league reconstruction yesterday after the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League presented their plans to take the game forward.

There were areas of mutual agreement between the SPL and the SFL plans. The former wants to establish two top leagues of 12, which will then split into three leagues of eight mid-season, while the latter is proposing a 16-10-16 structure that encompasses all senior professional clubs and includes play-offs, a fairer revenue split and the presence of Old Firm colt teams in the bottom tier. Both sets of plans require upheaval, since the SPL would need 12 teams to resign from the SFL, while the latter's plan would essentially see the SPL merged out of existence.

There is hope among the PGB, which is made up of the chairman, Rod Petrie, Ralph Topping, Neil Doncaster and Peter Lawwell of the SPL, Jim Ballantyne and David Longmuir of the SFL, Stewart Regan, Campbell Ogilvie and Alan McRae of the SFA, and Sandy Stables of the Scottish Highland Football League, that a compromise agreement will be reached.

"The PGB is encouraged by the common ground established on many issues in what is an emotive subject," said a statement by the SFA. "The respective league bodies will now hold further discussions with their member clubs."

However, there are still disagreements to overcome, not least because the 16-team top-flight is considered to be not commercially viable as it does not provide enough home games, even though the SFL also intends to expand the Scottish Communities League Cup to a group-stage competition to make up for the shortfall in games.

Doncaster also cautiously welcomed Michel Platini's idea to expand the Champions League, while disbanding the Europa League, since, in theory, it would allow more Scottish clubs to enter the elite competition.

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