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Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 12:33 UK

Attempts to ditch the SPL split would not find majority


SPL split here to stay - Doncaster

Any vote to scrap the Scottish Premier League split would not find the required majority, despite its chief executive being in favour of change.

The league splits into two after 33 matches and Motherwell, Rangers and St Mirren are unhappy at the final five fixtures handed out this season.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster says he would welcome a new structure.

But change needs an 11-1 majority and five out of eight clubs polled have told the BBC they want the split kept.

The split for the final five matches of the season has been in place since 2001, but the BBC canvassed the 12 clubs after it came in for particularly stiff criticism after this season's fixtures were announced on Saturday.

"If there is an opportunity to change the current system for the better then I think it's important we grab it," Doncaster told BBC Scotland.

I would certainly like to look at whether or not we have the optimum structure for Scottish football

Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster

"I think there's a general view from many supporters that the whole SPL is very slightly stale and in need of some refreshment. "I buy into that. I'm with those who question the way the split works.

"Any change, whatever it may be - ultimately that's for the clubs to decide whether they want it.

"We need 11 votes to make any kind of change. There may be a way of creating a split with a new system which doesn't have those imbalances, and those will be worth exploring as well.

"The 12 team league, the split, the current format - that will be here for as long as the clubs don't vote for anything else.

"We will continue to consult with the clubs and talk about what positive change we can bring in.

"And, hopefully at some point in the future we can come to the clubs with ideas for change, we'll have a consensus to take things forward in a positive way."

St Mirren are unhappy at having to play a third game of the season away to relegation rivals Falkirk, while Motherwell believe they stand to lose about £200,000 as result of their remaining fixtures.

The Fir Park club are unhappy that they will travel to face Celtic for a third time and lose out on a home match against the Old Firm, which is seen as major cash generator.

It means Motherwell have been handed just 18 home games instead of 19.

"I do have sympathy for Motherwell's plight, but there are always going to be imbalances," said Doncaster.

"Because of the way the split operates, as soon as Aberdeen were not in the top six this year, there was automatically going to be an imbalance.

"There was no way that we could have created 19 home and 19 away for every club."

The SPL chief executive says he will canvass opinion from the clubs to find ways to improve the current system.

"I would certainly like to look at whether or not we have the optimum structure for Scottish football," he said.

"My view is that possibly we haven't, but the clubs must vote for change for change to happen."


Rangers' post-split fixtures include three away fixtures in a row, something that the club have described as "lacking sporting integrity".

Doncaster, though, says the decision was taken on the advice of the police to avoid the possibility of the Ibrox club clinching the title at Celtic Park.

He also conceded that Rangers' significant lead at the top made that decision easier.

"If it had been much tighter and we were looking at a later game of the five being a title decider, the police would have insisted on the last Old Firm game being played much earlier in the five," added Doncaster.

"Maybe game one or game two and then you could have avoided the three away in a row."

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see also
Rangers call for end of SPL split
13 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Split provides thrills - Houston
13 Apr 10 |  Dundee Utd
Motherwell challenge SPL fixtures
12 Apr 10 |  Motherwell

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