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Reconstruction: Hutton encouraged by talks but calls for more clarity of SPL's planned set-up

The Scottish Premier League's plans for reconstruction of the current set-up are gathering pace after chief executive Neil Doncaster went on the charm offensive and made peace with one of their biggest critics, Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton, writes Derek Miller.

Doncaster held face-to-face talks with Hutton and Morton chairman Douglas Rae last Saturday when he, along with SPL secretary Iain Blair, attended the first division league match between the sides at Stark's Park in Kirkcaldy.

Hutton has been outspoken in fighting the Scottish Football League's corner and was scathing of the top-flight and Doncaster last summer as the Rangers crisis unfolded, branding the SPL a "dead parrot" and calling for the elite league to be disbanded.

But Hutton, whose club had voted in favour of SFL plans for a 16-10-16 set-up last month, has been left encouraged about plans for a 12-12-18 structure proposed by Doncaster following the talks.

It is understood Doncaster even said that they want to have the new league system in place for the start of next season.

But while Hutton agreed that Scottish football must focus on common ground to push through a league revamp, privately he still believes there are significant hurdles to overcome.

Having previously described the top flight as a "flawed brand", Hutton still reckons it would be difficult for the major sides to persuade lower-league clubs to join the new structure under the SPL banner. He also believes sacrifices will have to be made by both the elite division and the SFL to facilitate change.

With the SPL planning two top leagues of 12, which will split into three groups of eight after 22 games, Hutton has also called for clarity on plans for the remaining 18 clubs.

It was announced last week that the SPL and SFL agreed to set up a working group to discuss the plans following a productive meeting held by the Scottish Football Association's Professional Game Board.

Speaking at the time, SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: "I feel we've established a lot of common ground. Everyone came to the table with a willingness to improve the game and do our best for the game."

The Scottish Premier League's plans for reconstruction of the current set-up are gathering pace after chief executive Neil Doncaster went on the charm offensive and made peace with one of their biggest critics, Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton.

Doncaster held face-to-face talks with Hutton and Morton chairman Douglas Rae last Saturday when he, along with SPL secretary Iain Blair, attended the first division league match between the sides at Stark's Park in Kirkcaldy.

Hutton has been outspoken in fighting the Scottish Football League's corner and was scathing of the top-flight and Doncaster last summer as the Rangers crisis unfolded, branding the SPL a "dead parrot" and calling for the elite league to be disbanded.

But Hutton, whose club had voted in favour of SFL plans for a 16-10-16 set-up last month, has been left encouraged about plans for a 12-12-18 structure proposed by Doncaster following the talks.

It is understood Doncaster even said that they want to have the new league system in place for the start of next season.

But while Hutton agreed that Scottish football must focus on common ground to push through a league revamp, privately he still believes there are significant hurdles to overcome.

Having previously described the top flight as a "flawed brand", Hutton still reckons it would be difficult for the major sides to persuade lower-league clubs to join the new structure under the SPL banner. He also believes sacrifices will have to be made by both the elite division and the SFL to facilitate change.

With the SPL planning two top leagues of 12, which will split into three groups of eight after 22 games, Hutton has also called for clarity on plans for the remaining 18 clubs.

It was announced last week that the SPL and SFL agreed to set up a working group to discuss the plans following a productive meeting held by the Scottish Football Association's Professional Game Board.

Speaking at the time, SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: "I feel we've established a lot of common ground. Everyone came to the table with a willingness to improve the game and do our best for the game."

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