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SPL chief Neil Doncaster backs early start date

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster
Doncaster maintains that the early start to the season is in the interests of all clubs

Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster has defended the move to start next season on 23 July.

He insists that the early kick off will allow clubs in European competition to be better prepared.

However, a "one-off compromise" protocol will allow clubs to compete in friendly matches by postponing a game.

"You're always going to get differences of opinion," said Doncaster. "The task is to come up with the right balance, and I think the board have done that."

The move to start the league on its earliest ever date will not prevent Celtic from appearing in the Dublin Super Cup over the weekend of 30 and 31 July.

I don't think there will be a whole lot of disruption - I think the solution we've come up with is a fair compromise for everyone

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster

Celtic will join Manchester City, Inter Milan and an Irish League select in the event in the Irish capital.

Effectively, the SPL has created a new rule that offers clubs the option to postpone one match in their fixture calendar to accommodate a friendly, which Doncaster defended.

"It's exactly why we've agreed that any club can apply for a game to be postponed if they wish to enter a lucrative friendly tournament," he explained.

"Indeed, the SPL board has given permission to Celtic to play in the Dublin Super Cup at the end of July.

"Generally, the bigger clubs who have the opportunity to take part in lucrative friendly games would like a later season start date.

"However, the majority of clubs would favour an earlier season start date.

"Most clubs will be organising their pre-season early on and we can take account of club's views and desired when we put the fixture list together at the end of the season.

"I don't think there will be a whole lot of disruption - I think the solution we've come up with is a fair compromise for everyone."

A statement issued by the SPL on Monday said: "An earlier start date is an important part of the SPL's strategic plan for Scottish football and should mean that SPL clubs involved in European qualifiers in July enter those games better prepared.

"A July start date will also reduce the number of midweek games in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League during the winter months."

Doncaster wrote on his SPL blog: "Fixturing is a notoriously emotive area. Trying to shoe-horn so many games into a fixed period is an extremely difficult task - and one where SPL secretary Iain Blair is simply unable to please everyone all of the time.

"There is no ideal solution that suits all clubs. What's vital is that any decision is fair, balanced and in the overall interests of all clubs.

"It will boost clubs' incomes and increase the value of SPL games to broadcasters. And it's what fans tell us they want."

Doncaster went on to suggest that in future, "post-merger with the Scottish Football League", the League Cup could be "reconfigured to create the sort of flexibility that would be required".

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see also
SPL may face early start headache
19 Feb 11 |  Scottish Premier

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