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Page last updated at 20:07 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011

Fans discuss top 10 plan with SPL

Aberdeen fans at Easter Road make their feelings known
Aberdeen fans at Easter Road make their feelings known

A Scottish fans group remains sceptical that a 10-team top tier can improve football standards and club finances.

Supporters Direct, whose survey found 88% of fans opposed league reduction, met Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster on Thursday.

"We respect the SPL's aims to improve the quality and finance in to the game," said the group's James Proctor.

"But we remain concerned about whether the current league proposals are able to achieve this goal in the long run."

Supporters Direct, the national organisation of supporters' trusts, surveyed almost 5000 Scottish football fans in late December .

It found that 77% wanted a 16 or 18 team league and 88% opposing a drop from 12 to 10 teams, which is being pushed by the SPL.

The SPL's 12 clubs met the league on Tuesday to discuss the proposed change to the structure to two top tiers of 10 teams.

The SPL say that idea, incorporating end-of-season play-offs, is the one which will be most beneficial financially to most teams, thereby helping clubs hold on to their better players.

Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme on Wednesday that television companies had indicated that the current proposals would be more attractive to them, and therefore be worth more money.

But since Tuesday's summit, around half of the clubs have expressed opposition or wariness ahead of a vote to ratify the proposals on 17 January.


"We understand that some SPL club representatives also harbour concerns," said Proctor.

"We hope that, should the current plans fail to receive the necessary support, we can work with all parties in the future to develop a way to move to the larger leagues that many in the game would prefer."

Supporters Direct says it plans to speak to its member trusts across Scotland to hear their views on the ongoing discussion over league reconstruction.

Among the other SPL administrators' ideas which received positive feedback in the survey were play-offs, a winter break, and an earlier start to the season.

A working group consisting of SPL chief Doncaster, chairman Ralph Topping and representatives of Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian, Aberdeen, Motherwell and St Mirren drafted the proposals.

But, Dundee United, Inverness, Hearts, Kilmarnock are against the reduction to a 10-team league, while St Mirren say their preference would be for 14 teams.

Any changes to league structure will require 11 of the 12 clubs to vote in its favour.

Former First Minister McLeish's report on the future of Scottish football, commissioned by the Scottish Football Association, supports a 10-team premier division, as does Scotland manager Craig Levein.

Scottish football last underwent reconstruction in 1997, when the top clubs from the Premier Division split from the Scottish Football League to form the SPL, with an increase from 10 clubs to 12 at the behest of SFL clubs.

The format was introduced for the 2000-2001 season, but only Celtic and Rangers have ever won the championship under the current set-up.

However, Aberdeen and Dundee United broke the Old Firm dominance under the 10-club format that ran from 1975-1998, winning four titles between them.

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see also
St Mirren would prefer SPL of 14
06 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Top 10 will raise TV money - SPL
05 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Thompson hails positive SPL talks
24 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA chiefs differ on league size
22 Dec 10 |  Scotland
Hearts seek further play-off talk
21 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
Smith dismisses play-off proposal
20 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
McLeish review backs two-tier SPL
16 Dec 10 |  Scotland
Accies boss wants expanded league
15 Dec 10 |  Hamilton
SPL changes 'will help all clubs'
13 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL to consider radical shake-up
12 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier

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