• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Sorry, wrong number

RADICAL action is definitely needed to turn Scottish football around.

But while the proposed new 12-12-18 league structure might indeed be radical, it is nothing short of crazy to think it will be the answer to our ills.

The top eight clubs claim to be giving up a seven-figure sum to make it happen. I know these are hard times and chairman have a tough job, but, for me, those in the SPL aren't really giving an inch. Indeed, instead of one guaranteed relegation place from the top flight, under the new system it might be that nobody goes down. You could have the same teams in the top division for years.

For once I am not blaming Stewart Regan, Neil Doncaster or David Longmuir – who I have a lot of time for – because I don't think the top clubs were prepared to budge. I have never been a fan of a 12-team top division and in my opinion the only reasons we have and will continue to have one are money and greed. Clubs want four matches against Celtic and Rangers and are unwilling to accept a smaller share of the pie.

I would have listened to the case for a 14-team league as at least that would have bigger numbers, even to a small degree. There are 20 teams in the Barclays Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Serie A in Italy and Ligue One in France, while the Bundesliga in Germany and the Eredivisie in Holland all have 18. All the world's top leagues are bigger than ours. We might be a much smaller country, but football is hugely popular here.

The thing that annoys me most about the whole debate is the old line that you couldn't have a 16-team top division because there would be too many meaningless games. Even the best leagues in the world have so-called meaningless games.

Down south, you have games like Wigan v Fulham, and they still get the big TV money. It's just another of those arguments thrown in to take attention away from the fact that for some clubs it is all about supposedly protecting their own interests. They need to accept that they should be cutting costs because the money just is not there in Scotland at the moment.

In a bigger top division, the so-called meaningless games could be offset by an increased number of derbies, such as Raith-Dunfermline, the recently restored Dundee derby, or a Morton-St Mirren derby.

The downside is that if Hibs and Hearts were in their current SPL positions of third and ninth at the time of the proposed mid-season switch from two leagues of 12 to three of eight, they would be separated, depriving us of one or two Edinburgh derbies and one or two Hearts-Celtic matches.

Rangers haven't been involved in the discussions about a new set-up and have reacted angrily to the fact that their "reward" for winning the Third Division could be to play the same teams all over again, if reconstruction takes place ahead of next season. OK, assuming they keep winning, they would still be back in the top league within the same timescale but I don't think the SFA, SPL and SFL should be making changes that mean teams won't be playing for what they thought they were playing for this season. They are using the carrot of another year playing against Rangers to try to secure the vote of the smaller teams who might be afraid of dropping down under a pyramid structure.

I'm sure the restructure will go ahead, because I don't think the three bodies would announce it has been agreed in principle without being certain the clubs are going to go for it. Charles Green has spoken about attempting to find an exit strategy for Rangers if it goes through but many people have tried and failed on that front.

At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand, not talk about breakaways, and try to be a bit more dignified about it. Rangers and Celtic, I am sure, would both leave if they had that option, but with the English authorities still against them playing there, there are too many obstacles. It is never going to happen in my lifetime.

Contextual targeting label: 
Finance

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

135053