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SFL clubs split over timetable for league reform

Scotland's lower-league clubs are set to clash on the proposed timescale for introducing a new league set-up north of the border.

The Scottish Football League invited its members to Hampden today to brief clubs on plans for league reconstruction.

The 12 Scottish Premier League clubs agreed unanimously on Monday to push ahead with a 12-12-18 set-up and this morning's meeting gave SFL outfits their chance to pore over the proposals in more detail.

However, as the representatives of the clubs made their way inside the league offices, opinion was divided on whether backing for the new structure should be fast-tracked so it can be introduced in time for next season.

See our new dossier on league reconstruction - and how you can shape the debate

       

No vote was expected to be taken on the subject, but Stranraer vice-chairman Iain Dougan said: "If it's decided that we are going to do it, let's go ahead and do it.

"There's no point hanging about. Because next season will be the same. It will be stale and people won't know what's happening."

Berwick Rangers chairman Brian Porteous also called for imminent change, saying: "Everyone in Scottish football knows there needs to be a change and I think next season is the time to bring it in.

"The play-offs will end up being a bit unimportant but that is going to happen whether it's done this season or next. I would think the quicker the better."

Angus Fairlie, secretary of Brechin City, added: "I think there is a general sense of urgency, everybody seems to be pressing that way, definitely.

"I just hope we can all move together as one. Scottish football needs to stop fighting with itself and all pull together."

However, there were others who pleaded for a period of consideration before the league set-up is ripped up and redrawn afresh.

Lewis Grant, a director at Ayr United, led the calls, saying: "Do things need to change? Absolutely - 100 per cent they need to change. It's not working right now. Life is very difficult for clubs at the bottom.

"It might be an uneasy partnership but yes, I think there is an appetite for an amalgamation of the SPL and SFL. The SPL, financially, will be calling the shots but we have to do what we think is right.

"There will absolutely be no vote today, perhaps just a gauging of the mood. But what might happen with the information coming out so late to the clubs, is that the move might be postponed until the season after.

"I don't think it is realistic for it to happen next season. It's very difficult to change the goalposts during a season, which seems very unfair."

East Stirlingshire chairman Tony Ford insisted now is not the time to be taking votes on the matter.

Ford said: "That's impossible. We are a fan-owned club and you have to talk to the supporters.

"Realistically, can it be introduced in time for next season? I think it will be very difficult. Our club has no view on it at the minute, however, and we will listen to the arguments and see what happens."

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