Some thoughts on the latest proposals for reconstruction within Scottish football:
1. One governing body is a must, overseeing league and cup football as well as the national side.
2. A two-tier SPL with 10 teams in each division is a non-starter. In the past the 10 team SPL was too cut-throat, meaning a team challenging for Europe could lose a couple of games and be in a relegation battle. Where every match is a ‘cup-final’, teams are less likely to throw in young players. There’s also the repetition of teams playing each other four times a season.
3. A 10 team top division also means four Old Firm league games a season. This will keep TV companies happy and is perhaps a factor in why the SPL is proposing this set-up.
4. There is no perfect solution, but as it stands, an SPL/SFL with two divisions of 16 teams would appear to be the way forward. Promotion would be two up and two down, with third place in the second tier in a play-off with third bottom in the top flight.
5. Having divisions with 16 sides would allow clubs some ‘breathing space’, if they are able to move away from the relegation zone. This would hopefully result in more opportunities for youngsters, and may even lead to more teams trying to play attractive football.
6. Those opposed to the idea of 16 teams will point to potentially meaningless mid-table fixtures – that however should be countered by the fact that each top-flight side will play 8 less league games than they currently do.
7. Having less league games will allow more flexibility when it comes to the calendar. A winter break (3-4 weeks in January) would be more achievable, as would the postponement of matches to allow the national team and Scottish clubs in European competition more preparation time in the lead up to matches.
8. The remaining SFL clubs not included in the second top division would join junior (assuming they wish to be involved), highland league and other non-league sides in regional leagues, creating a pyramid with promotion and relegation to and from the second 16 team division. Some of the current SFL clubs may find their natural level is outwith the top two divisions, but remaining in business somewhere is surely better than merging with local rivals or folding.
9. The Scottish Cup would be open to all sides within the pyramid structure. The League Cup would take in the 32 clubs in the top two divisions, and would be spread out during the course of the season. The Challenge Cup could either be a competition for second tier teams only, or may also include non-league sides. Either way the final could be held later in the season.
10. If the Celtic, Rangers or any other clubs wish to enter a ‘B’ side into the lower leagues, they should be made to start at the bottom of the bottom of the pyramid rather than joining the second division.