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Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

SFA chiefs disagree over league reconstruction

SFA chiefs disagree over league size

There is disagreement at the top of the Scottish Football Association on the best way ahead for top-flight football.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan wants a top division of 10 teams, while the president, George Peat, would prefer a 14-team Scottish Premier League.

However, the duo agree there is no need for two bodies, the Scottish Football League and the SPL, to run the leagues.

The 12 SPL clubs will meet early in the new year to discuss recent proposals by the league's Strategic Working Group.

The working group announced its findings five days before Henry McLeish published the second part of his review of Scottish football on 16 December.

Its proposal for two leagues of 10, an earlier start to the season, the return of a winter break and the introduction of play-offs would require 11 of the 12 teams to vote in favour for them to go through.

McLeish's report backs the working group's suggestion of a two-tier top flight with 10 teams in each division and the return of a winter break.

He also recommends the merging of the SPL and SFL, an earlier start to the season and the regionalisation of the lower leagues.

At a news conference at Hampden on Wednesday, Regan told the media: "If you look at why we need to restructure the leagues it is to provide better quality competitive football, to develop better players for the long-term success of the Scottish game.

I like a 10-team proposal. It will create pressure, intensity and competition. If the best can play against the best, that is the best thing for our game

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan

"The Scottish Premier League would like to enlarge to develop a much stronger top end of Scottish football and to do that by inviting the Scottish Football League clubs to come across and ultimately form a pyramid for the development of players in the game.

"The pyramid structure is something that the SFA have embraced for some time so that players and clubs can see how success can be achieved.

"How you put the leagues and the teams together is up for debate."

When asked how great the SFA's role should be in any restructure, Regan and Peat made it clear they would prefer to get involved once the SPL and SFL had agreed on a proposal.

"Our view is that we need the leagues themselves to come up with a joint recommendation and then we will get involved to decide how that is taken forward," said Regan.

"I like a 10-team proposal. It will create pressure, intensity and competition. If the best can play against the best, that is the best thing for our game.

"A huge amount of consultation has gone on. There are further meetings planned for Christmas Eve and it may be that at the first round that proposal doesn't get the support that it requires.

"I don't think that means that it is a dead duck; I think it will give the opportunity for further talks."

Peat, though, had a different view on the formation of the top league.

"Personally, I would go down the route of a 14-team league," said the president.

"I think the standard of football would improve if there wasn't the same pressure on managers in a smaller league."

The variance in opinion was brushed aside by Regan, who claimed: "If you ask a hundred people how you should structure a league, you would probably get 50 or 60 answers because it is such a subjective issue.

"The eventual conclusion will be a result of a lot of discussion but there will be change."

Regan and Peat insisted that McLeish's recommendations would be implemented but explained that, in relation to changes to the board structure to focus more clearly on professional and community football, proposals would have to be passed at the SFA's annual general meeting.

At the suggestion that process of change was painfully slow, the chief executive replied: "We are not a local football club in the park.

"We are a multi-million pound turnover business. We have due process to go through and governance procedures to be adhered to. You can't make a decision and implement it overnight."

see also
Accies boss wants expanded league
15 Dec 10 |  Hamilton
SPL plans could face opposition
13 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL changes 'will help all clubs'
13 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL to consider radical shake-up
12 Dec 10 |  Scottish Premier
McLeish buoyed by review response
17 Aug 10 |  Scottish Premier
Change demanded in Scots football
23 Apr 10 |  Scotland
McLeish has role in changing game
28 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier

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