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SPL set for March reconstruction vote

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Some clubs still need to be convinced about the SPL's plans

By Chris McLaughlin and Alasdair Lamont

Scotland's top clubs look likely to vote on league reconstruction at a board meeting at the end of March.

The Scottish Premier League has been pushing a proposal that would see the league reduced from 10 to 12.

There was broad support for the switch at a meeting at Hampden Park on Monday, but so far there has been no consensus between the 12 representatives.

Clubs will now be asked to officially back the move at a ballot or retain the status quo.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne hopes that the clubs will approve the change.

"I'd be very disappointed if it did not go through," he said of the proposal for a top league of 10 and a second tier of 12 after Monday's meeting.

No official SPL statement was issued following the meeting.

Last month, chief executive Neil Doncaster said consensus was being sought for a top league of 10 and a second tier of 12.

For the good of Scottish football, you have got to listen to other people's opinions as well and hopefully we will come to the right decision at the end of the day

Inverness Caledonian Thistle chairman George Fraser

But some clubs still required convincing over the wisdom of a smaller SPL and the viability of plans to increase financial help for those suffering relegation.

And the SPL was expected to present refined proposals to the clubs on Monday.

"I think they continue to move in the right direction," Milne said of the latest talks.

"There is a bit more work to be done to get everyone totally behind it, but there is no other option on the table - we are still looking at the 10 and the 12.

"There will be a date hopefully lined up within the next two or three days and there's further work to done on the document to bring all the elements together.

"And I would hope that, within the next four or five weeks, we would be able to get the clubs back together and take a vote on it.

"Not everyone plays their hand totally openly. There's negotiations involved in these things and it's finding that balance between self-interest and the interest of Scottish football and that's where there is further work to be done."

Henry McLeish, the author of a recent Scottish Football Associated-commissioned report into the future of Scottish football, made a presentation to the clubs to outline his views of the best way forward.

The McLeish report stated that a 10-team top division was the most financially viable future model for the SPL - and that is also the view of Doncaster.

Since last month's meeting, Doncaster and members of the SPL's strategic review group have been trying to mould proposals into something that is palatable to all.

Talks have also been held with the Scottish Football League, whose view of the SPL's pronouncements thus far has been one of scepticism.

While the top 12 clubs are largely in agreement over many of the original proposals made by the strategic review group - including the reintroduction of a winter break and an earlier start to the season - the key one of league reconstruction remains a significant point of contention.

However, Inverness Caledonian Thistle chairman George Fraser - whose own manager, Terry Butcher, has criticised the proposals - suggested that it was moving towards a positive conclusion.

"There were more constructive talks today," he told BBC Scotland. "We'll have another final chat in a few weeks time. So, more progress, more talks.

"I think the next time we meet, there should be a vote taken.

"Things are moving forward. I think you have got to take a balanced view on the overall thing.

"You take your own personal interests into it. But, for the good of Scottish football, you have got to listen to other people's opinions as well and hopefully we will come to the right decision at the end of the day."

The latest talks appeared to also please Hamilton Academical chairman Ronnie MacDonald

"The steering group are having another meeting this afternoon to try to resolve some of the issues, but it was very productive," he added.

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see also
Scots regional set-up idea 'dead'
18 Feb 11 |  Scottish League
Butcher pans SPL 'deconstruction'
18 Jan 11 |  Inverness CT
SPL numbers game hard to add up
18 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
SPL clubs agree on top-10 format
17 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Hearts want fairer TV cash split
15 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Fans discuss top 10 plan with SPL
06 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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