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Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Monday, 17 January 2011

SPL clubs reach agreement over two leagues of 10 and 12


SPL push ahead with top 10 plan

Scottish Premier League clubs have reached a broad agreement at a meeting at Hampden for a 10-team top league and a second tier of 12 teams.

The SPL will now consult the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Football League to progress the idea.

A top tier of 14 teams had looked the most likely alternative to the 10-10 arrangement proposed by the SPL after some clubs had voiced reservations.

But only three of the 12 top flight said they favoured a 14-team set-up.

A statement released by the SPL after the meeting in Glasgow said: "The Scottish Premier League clubs today reaffirmed their commitment to the work of the Strategic Review Group to develop a structure for the whole of Scottish football.

"Broad support was given to progressing a 10-team Premiership and a 12-team Championship at the top of a pyramid for Scottish football as the preferred option.

"The SPL clubs have asked the executive team to further develop aspects of these proposals and to update the Strategic Review Group's report."

The fans have been ignored but in sport you have to take your defeats gracefully

David Sutherland
Inverness majority shareholder

The wording of the statement was agreed on by representatives of all 12 top flight clubs, however, the move to a new 10-12 set-up is unlikely to be plain sailing.

"There is a long way to go in this saga yet," Inverness majority shareholder David Sutherland told BBC Scotland.

Inverness, along with Hearts and Kilmarnock, said that they were in favour of a 14-team top league in a show of hands at the meeting, while Dundee United and St Mirren have previously voiced objections to a 10-team division.

And changes to the league structure will require a 10-2 vote in favour.

"The fans have been ignored but in sport you have to take your defeats gracefully," added Sutherland.

"It's a pity the 14-team wasn't considered a little more seriously.

"We'll get on with it but I think the SPL needs to take a good, long look at themselves and what they are doing to Scottish football."

Scotland manager Craig Levein backs a top league of 10 teams, saying that would be "the optimum number of teams to provide me with the best number of quality players to choose from for the national squad".

And, despite widespread opposition from fans, SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster remains confident a top 10 will be achieved.


"Clearly when clubs haven't got a detailed, finalised plan in front of them, then we need to understand that clubs want to reserve their final position and need to see a final document in front of them before they can give their ringing endorsement," he said.

"But all 12 clubs have agreed to the statement today so hopefully this gives us a mandate to move forward."

Doncaster will speak to the Scottish Football League board of directors on Thursday to give a briefing on where they are with the Strategic Review to develop a structure for the whole of Scottish football.

The SFL chief executive David Longmuir told BBC Scotland: "Until such time something is formalised or presented to us, we cannot comment.

"The SFL's position hasn't changed. We are open to change if it is for the good of all clubs in Scotland."

Following the first meeting of all 12 clubs on 4 January, a 16-team league, known to be popular among supporters, was dismissed as unworkable.

Doncaster's calculations had each club losing around £1m per year as a result of lost matches and television revenue.

Making his case for the 10-12 arrangement, Doncaster added: "One of the real problems we have is a second tier that is totally bereft of finance and that means when our clubs get relegated they are entering fiscal Armageddon.

"The only way we can put substantial funding down there is through this model.

"But beyond that there is the introduction of play-offs up to eighth place in the division and the earlier season start date.

"For me, this is as much about excitement and interest in the game as it is about making sure there is a financially viable and sustainable model."

Under the proposals, teams would meet each other four times a season, meaning 44 games in the second tier.

No vote was possible at Monday's gathering, since a formal resolution needs to be put to clubs 14 days beforehand and that had not happened.

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see also
Hearts want fairer TV cash split
15 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
SPL scraps vote on top-10 format
09 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Fans discuss top 10 plan with SPL
06 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
St Mirren would prefer SPL of 14
06 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Top 10 will raise TV money - SPL
05 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
SPL moves towards 10-team format
04 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
McLeish review backs two-tier SPL
16 Dec 10 |  Scotland
SPL to consider radical shake-up
12 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier

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