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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
SPL to consider rule change
Barry Wilson celebrates as his goal secures the Division One title
Caley Thistle will still have to share with Aberdeen
The Scottish Premier League has taken the first step towards abolishing the rule that teams must have a 10,000-seater stadium to enter the league.

The move follows discussions between the SPL, the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Football League at Hampden on Monday.

All three organisations agreed to review the criteria.

SPL chairman Lex Gold said: "Today's meeting was very constructive and gives us a platform to move forward."

The parties are to meet again in June.

The decision will not help First Division champions Inverness Caledonian Thistle, however, as any review will not take effect until the season after next at the earliest.

Caley Thistle are having to contemplate sharing Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium as their Caledonian Stadium does not have the required capacity.

Falkirk were last season refused promotion after their plan to share with Second Division Airdrie United was rejected, but sharing between two SPL clubs has been approved as long as they can come to a satisfactory legal agreement.

We, unilaterally, cannot change the rules
SPL chairman Lex Gold
Partick Thistle, threatened with relegation, are contemplating challenging the ruling in the courts, but now the SPL has responded to calls for a reduction in the capacity requirement to prevent such wrangling in the future.

SPL chairman Lex Gold told BBC Scotland: "None of our clubs are interested in bringing back standing, but they are prepared to look at the figure."

Gold insisted that any change to the rule would ultimately need to be approved by sports minister Frank McAveety.

"I have also spoken to the sports minister and senior politicians in the Executive about what drives the 10,000 rule, which is legal," he said.

"It was a response to the Hillsborough tragedy and the Ibrox disaster and that figure is for the highest level of safety and security - not set by the SPL but by statute.

"There has been a misunderstanding that this is our rule and we are a cartel trying to keep people out, but that is not so."

McAveety said in a recent reply at the Scottish Parliament about the possible reduction to 6,000 seats: "We are currently updating and collating information gathered on sports ground capacities and related local authority safety certification across Scotland.

"This will help us review current policy on safety at sports grounds and decide whether or not it and current practice is relevant to current circumstances.

"We plan to issue a consultation paper in the Spring and the current 10,000 threshold will be one of the issues on which views will be sought. "

Meanwhile, Gold disclosed that the SPL had decided to retain the present, sometimes controversial end-of-season split of the 12-club league into two sections for next season.

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