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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011

St Mirren would prefer SPL of 14

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Some clubs are still sceptical about a move to a 10-team top league.

St Mirren say they too are uncertain about plans for a new 10-team top tier.

Dundee United, Kilmarnock, Hearts and Inverness are all against the proposal, which requires 11 clubs to be in favour of to force through the changes.

The SPL clubs will vote on the change on 17 January, but St Mirren have said they would prefer a 14-team league.

The club also insisted that change would not be decided upon at that meeting and that they were considering all options.

After a summit of the 12 current member clubs on Tuesday, SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster felt that a new SPL 1 and 2 of 10 teams would be voted through.

But subsequently BBC Scotland learned that four clubs opposed the plans.

St Mirren are on the steering group which recommended the new proposals.

I think we're all for change, I just feel as though we're going back the way

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson

But a statement by their chairman Stewart Gilmour on behalf of the club board said: "It will be some time before a final document is produced and a meeting asking for a vote on this document is called."

Gilmour reiterated his club's preference was for a larger top division, although he agreed with Doncaster that a league of 16 teams is not financially viable.

He stressed that his club were yet to decide if they would vote for a top league of 10, but that benefits such as increased parachute payments to relegated teams were attractive.

"Two tens is an option we have to consider," said the statement. "as dropping into the second tier would not result in the 90% loss in revenue that it currently does.

"For this reason it is sensible for the club to consider all proposals, although our preference, should we be able to find a financially sustainable model, is for a larger top league.

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson said his club were not in favour of reverting to a 10-team top league.

"I principally don't agree with a 10-team league from a footballing point of view," he told BBC Scotland.

Inverness have also said they will hold a board meeting to discuss the proposals as they were under the impression that the choice for change was going to be between a league of 12 or 14 teams.

Their majority shareholder David Sutherland met with Doncaster on Thursday, describing the talks as "open and fruitful".

Sutherland told BBC Scotland: ''We discussed the logic and the commercial drivers behind the thought-provoking reconstruction proposals.''

After their board meeting, Inverness will offer their alternatives to the plans on the table.

SPL chief excutive Neil Doncaster
SPL chief Neil Doncaster feels clubs will favour two top tiers of 10 teams

United chairman Thompson added: "There were some very good things proposed by the SPL, but at the moment we're being asked to accept all or nothing.

"I think we're all for change, I just feel as though we're going back the way.

"It needs to be the right change as far as I'm concerned.

"Is a 10-team league going to bring more excitement? It will with the relegation play-offs.

"But there's more chance of getting relegated - putting the futures of more clubs in jeopardy.

"And wasn't the reason for moving from a 10-team league in the first place because youth development was being stunted?

"I'd like to see more discussion and, actually, more give and take on both sides."

Chairman of the SPL, Ralph Topping, and chief executive Doncaster said after Tuesday's three-hour meeting that they believed all SPL member clubs had been persuaded that a 16 or 18-team league was not financially viable, thus opening the door for a 10-team SPL 1 and 2.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne and his St Johnstone counterpart Geoff Brown claimed to be confident that the new-look leagues would be approved at the next meeting.

Based on the proposals, the SPL would then invite teams from the SFL to help make up SPL 2, which would leave the lower leagues with fewer teams.

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see also
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SPL moves towards 10-team format
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Fans discuss top 10 plan with SPL
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