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Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Sunday, 12 December 2010

SPL to consider radical shake-up

Scottish football shake-up explained

Scottish football shake-up explained

By Alasdair Lamont

Proposals for a two-tier Scottish Premier League of 10 teams each are to be put to clubs next Monday.

As part of the reconstruction, play-offs would be introduced, the season would start earlier and a winter break would be built in.

The leagues beneath the top two would be regionalised if the plans put forward by the SPL's Strategic Working Group are ratified.

It is anticipated any changes would be introduced the season after next.

The working group was meeting on Sunday to draw up final details of what will be presented to all 12 SPL clubs at a meeting on 20 December.

While the proposals could be voted on at next Monday's meeting, it is understood a deferral of the vote until January is more likely, to allow clubs to fully consider the detail of the plan.

Equally, it is possible change could be pushed through in time for the beginning of next season, but season 2012/13 is viewed as being a more realistic timeframe.

Eleven of the 12 teams would have to vote in favour of the proposals in order for them to go through, a scenario that is not yet seen as inevitable.

The headline elements of the plans are largely agreed upon but there are a number of fine details still to be ironed out.

The working group consists of the SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster, chairman Ralph Topping and representatives of Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian, Motherwell and St Mirren.

They have been working since the spring to pull together what will be put to their fellow SPL members.

Between the two SPL leagues, there would be an automatic one up, one down.

But play-offs would also take place between the ninth-placed team in the top flight and the second-, third- and fourth-placed teams in the second tier.

That would mean a league season of 36 games - two fewer than present - plus play-offs for those involved, with the league split being abolished

The season would be brought forward by a few weeks to allow the clubs participating in Europe to be better prepared.

That would allow a winter break to be reintroduced - though the exact duration and timing of that is still up for debate.

Another strand to the proposals is the introduction of SPL 'B' teams in either the second tier of the SPL or the regionalised leagues, similar to the model of the top teams in Spain and Germany.

Supporters of that notion believe it would be more beneficial for their younger players to playing at under-19 level or going out on loan.

These teams would not be allowed promotion to the top flight.

Among the other details still to be settled upon is how to revert from the current top 12 to a league of 10, with one possibility being the relegation of three teams at the end of the season prior to change, with just one coming up.

Unsurprisingly, some clubs traditionally fighting to avoid relegation are sceptical about the wisdom of voting for a smaller league, but it is hoped they can be persuaded if a system can be devised whereby relegated teams receive greater compensation, to ease the blow of playing in the lower tier.

A lot of thinking and talking still has to be done, but it appears Scottish football is closer to change than any time in the last decade.

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see also
St Johnstone's Brown backs SPL2
29 Oct 09 |  St Johnstone
Blair optimistic over SPL 2 talks
19 Mar 09 |  Scottish Premier
Clubs vote against SPL2 proposal
19 Apr 07 |  Scottish League

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