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Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:01 UK

SPL clubs could back 14-team plan

Rangers' Danny Wilson and Celtic's Marc-Antoine Fortune
Rangers and Celtic could be playing against two extra teams in 2011

By Jim Spence

The Scottish Premier League could be set to increase to 14 clubs from season 2011-12, with relegation play-offs also featuring in the new set-up.

A senior Scottish football figure has told BBC Scotland that the current 12-club set-up could be replaced.

The new format would see all clubs play each other twice and split after 26 games into a top six and bottom eight.

The SPL insists that a 14-team league is being considered but is not the only option open to them at present.

Based on the proposed format, after the new 14-team league splits, clubs in the top six and the bottom eight would then play each other twice.

There are a whole lot of things that have to be changed and I want all-round change in many areas of the game rather than just a bigger league set up

Dundee United chairman
Stephen Thompson

This would mean 36 matches for the clubs in the top six, with 40 games being played by those finishing in the bottom eight.

A spokesman for the league told BBC Scotland: ''We are actively looking at options for our clubs but it is premature to suggest that one route has been determined.

''Our Chairman and chief executive are discussing league reconstruction with our clubs at the moment but it is too early to draw any firm conclusions from that work.

"It is fair to say that a number of different league formats are being reviewed as part of that process.

"It is our job to try and build a consensus across our clubs first and then with others in Scottish football."

At present, the SPL splits into two sections of six after 33 games, with one in the bottom six being automatically relegated, but this season clubs have strongly criticised a system that can see clubs having an imbalance of home and away games.

An even bigger SPL, featuring a 16 or 18-club top league, along with a second division for the SPL, is also under discussion.

But the 14-club model appears to be the one most likely to be adopted in time for season 2011-2012.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

A senior Scottish football figure said: "SPL clubs are currently involved in deep consultation and trying to build a consensus on the way forward.

"There will be a window of opportunity in the next two or three months for the clubs to announce the changes in the summer so that everyone knows what they are playing for next season.

"There is an appreciation of the need for change. What is being discussed at the moment with a 14-club set up would give us a balanced split and we would know the fixtures in advance.

"This is not blind optimism. We know the model has got to change. Everyone can see the benefit in refreshing things."

Meanwhile, Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson said that he was open to persuasion on any change to the league structure.

"I am neither for or against a 14-club league," said Thompson.

"I am open-minded to change.

"However, that change has to be about more than just bringing two extra clubs into the league.

"There are a whole lot of things that have to be changed and I want all-round change in many areas of the game rather than just a bigger league set-up."

Another SPL chairman admitted that, while he favoured an even bigger top league, a 14-club set-up was more likely to find favour with clubs because of financial considerations, with fewer clubs sharing SPL income.

Further discussions are ongoing. But, under the new set-up, one club would be automatically relegated from the SPL and one promoted from the First Division.

The second bottom SPL club would then be involved in a play off with the clubs finishing second, third and possibly even fourth in the First Division.

SPL clubs are due to meet at the end of the season for a strategy day, with various proposals being discussed then.

Any change to the current league set-up would, however, require an 11-1 vote in favour from the existing 12 clubs under the SPL constitution.



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see also
McLeish has role in changing game
28 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL hits back over fixtures row
19 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL clubs would not ditch split
14 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
Smith bemoans fixture imbalance
18 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Rangers call for end of SPL split
13 Apr 10 |  Rangers
Split provides thrills - Houston
13 Apr 10 |  Dundee Utd
SPL clubs favour expansion plans
04 Mar 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL chief rejects summer football
30 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL rules out winter break return
18 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier


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