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Top 10 will improve TV money - SPL chief Neil Doncaster

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster
Doncaster says a 10-team league creates a best v best environment

Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster believes a 10-team top league would generate increased revenue from television broadcast deals.

And he reiterated that failure to change the current set-up would be damaging to Scottish football.

"We've certainly had the indication that the plan on the table is more attractive to TV than the status-quo," Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland.

"I believe if we stay as we are then we will be managing continuing decline."

Doncaster is pushing for a top flight of 10 teams, with a second tier of the same size and a system of play-offs.

On Tuesday, following a meeting with the 12 member clubs, Doncaster and SPL chairman Ralph Topping were confident that their proposals would be ratified at a vote on 17 January.

However, on Wednesday BBC Scotland learned that at least four clubs - Dundee United, hearts, Kilmarnock and Inverness - were sceptical of the idea.

Doncaster says that if clubs do not vote for the new structure, which he believes is the most financially beneficial, then the current 12-team league will remain.

We had a 10-team league before - we were part of it - and it didn't work then

John Yorkston
Dunfermline chairman

"If the vote goes against two SPL leagues of 10 then we have the status-quo, but that's something that everyone accepts should not be the case," Doncaster said on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme.

"No one else has put any alternatives up. I think those who want 16 teams in the top flight are deluding themselves.

"That would take a lot of money out of the game, because clubs would play each other just twice.

"So if you take away half of the big games, you're talking about half of the value being lost - around £7m."

"If you have more bigger games, with play-offs, then there is more attraction and value in the TV rights.

"That money will help ease the burden of relegation, as well as give us a chance to hold on to our better players who, at the moment, are drifting away to England because there's more money there."

Doncaster insisted that the two-tier SPL, incorporating some clubs from the current First Division, would benefit all clubs in the Scottish football structure.

"This is not just looking after our own," he told BBC Scotland. "It's about the best interests of all 42 clubs.

However, there is widespread opposition from fans, who fear the prospect of teams meeting four times a season is dull.

And BBC Radio Scotland pundit Billy Dodds echoed those concerns, saying: "I'm strongly against it. They [SPL] are looking after their own backyard.

"Everything is short-term. It's all about how can we get more money."

The former Dundee United, Aberdeen, Rangers and Scotland striker added: "They are going to chase the fans away and I really fear for Scottish football five or 10 years down the line."


Doncaster believes there would be "substantially more money" in a second-tier SPL.

"It's about ensuring teams don't face the financial oblivion that the likes of Falkirk and Inverness have done in recent years [on dropping into Division One]," he continued.

"We have to make sure that more money is pushed down and that there is a proper pyramid in Scottish football."

Dunfermline currently sit top of Division One and East End Park chairman John Yorkston is in favour of play-offs but is against reducing the size of the top flight.

"I want to see a bigger league," told BBC Radio Scotland. "I want to see a league that has lots of Scottish players in it.

"We've gone downhill. Young players aren't getting blooded.

"Okay, games are meaningful [in a 10-team set-up] but that means teams are scared of losing and they'll park the bus [adopt defensive tactics]. They won't risk young players and bring them on.

"We had a 10-team league before - we were part of it - and it didn't work then."

Doncaster conceded that supporters broadly favour expansion but argued that the numbers just do not add up.

"We have to acknowledge that the popular vote is for a larger league but you can't just ask the question in isolation," he explained.

"If you put it to them that your club will lose at least £1m [calculations based on loss of TV revenue and fewer fixtures] then it doesn't look very attractive.

"It's imperative that we bring more money in, we get the best players that we can afford and that fans see more exciting football."

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see also
St Mirren would prefer SPL of 14
06 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
SPL moves towards 10-team format
04 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Fans discuss top 10 plan with SPL
06 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Thompson hails positive SPL talks
24 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA chiefs differ on league size
22 Dec 10 |  Scotland
Smith dismisses play-off proposal
20 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
McLeish review backs two-tier SPL
16 Dec 10 |  Scotland
SPL to consider radical shake-up
12 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier

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