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Let's do something really radical with the SPL

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Jim Spence | 17:07 UK time, Saturday, 18 December 2010

Do you fancy play-offs at the top of the Scottish Premier League?
We've seen the excitement that play-offs generate in England. Now we could be about to see the same in Scotland, both at the top and the bottom of any new top league set up.

Proposals will be put forward at the SPL meeting on Monday for radical change to give the game a lift by clubs who don't think recent proposals are radical enough.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster will have his work cut out for him on Monday.

There's a feeling that with the Old Firm having won the top league for the last 25 years, and we need to reinvigorate things at the top of the table.

Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers have been unhindered for so long that a staleness has pervaded the SPL at the top end.

I'm a believer that the man who crosses the line first wins the race, but maybe the finances are so lop-sided in our game that some kind of handicapping system is needed to give others a fighting chance.

A play-off with two legs home and away between, let's say, first versus third and second versus fourth, culminating in a play-off final at Hampden, would be a real potential money-spinner for broadcasters and could pull the fans out in their droves.

It also seems that the top-10 league is favoured by hardly anyone, although Rangers and their manager, Walter Smith, have come out in favour.

Fans who feel they have have not been consulted about the changes proposed appear to want a bigger league not a smaller one.

Managers too would like to have a bigger spread of clubs to alleviate the boredom of meeting each other four times a year.

I have not met one supporter in favour of a 10-team league.

We were told radical change was needed, play-offs at the top of the top league might be a real start.

One thing's for sure, it looks like it's back to the drawing board for the SPL on Monday.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Play offs at the top stupid idea - you play a league to see who is best over a season not over 4 days total lack of credibility imagine the 4th placed team being in champions league - FARCE

    10 team league stupid idea - the reason that the league is going stale is that you can have teams playing each other 5 or 6 times in a season possibly 7 if there are replays when cups are considered

    14-16 team league much better idea more competition more chance of attractive football and seeing the same teams less.

    It is time the media and the SFA and SPL started listening to what the fans want not what the teams want! Gice the fans a say and crowds return do what is not best for the game and more fans leave. I for one if the league moves to 2 x 10 SPL leagues will not be visiting any ground until sense is seen and the fans get what they want

  • Comment number 2.

    Spencey, you got it spot on, the thing which started the problems in Scottish football was when the rules changed with the first premier league, and home teams kept all their gate. This was something driven through by the Old Firm, Aberdeen & Dundee united. This continues with the TV revenue.

    Everyone needs to remember that it takes more than 2 teams to make a league, and the finances should be shared out more evenly in relation to league positions similar to the EPL set-up.

    This would make a HUGE difference to my club Kilmarnock who it seems sometimes get tuppence ha' penny from the media deal. Heaven knows how some of the lower league teams manage on what they earn.

    As a non old firm, I can understand their reluctance to part with the money, but they also keep moaning about being poor in europe becuase their is no competition, but when they buy underpay for all the main players from the other teams and get 80% of the revenue, surely even these two can see that the long term benefit of ALL including them. A stronger league benefits their progress in Europe also as they are challenged and should'net need to raise their game as much fro mthe norm when playing their games.

  • Comment number 3.

    Didn't Scotland used to have a ten team Premier league and we decided it wasn't fit for purpose? Having said that, I stopped going to the fotball about three years ago because it was so boring and predictable. Rangers and Celtic dominated, too often with the help of "sympathetic" referees and linesmen, that I started to question long ago why I bothered when the game was so obviously fixed. It was hard at first to stop supporting my team, but now I enjoy watching the top English teams instead.

  • Comment number 4.

    Strange how the SPL was set up to invigorate Scottish football and now they want to basically do away with SFL and create a 2-tier SPL (shades of the old SFL anyone?). So where is the improvement? Seems we're just rehashing old ideas yet again. I don't see where the improvement to football is supposed to come. Introducing a playoff just adds extra revenue to teams not good enough to do better at the level they find themselves.

    Seems to me the biggest problem is the SPL dominates revenues to the detriment of SFL teams, and the Old Firm dominate the revenues to the detriment of the other SPL teams. Thus teams end up in administration (over and over and over again). I don't see anything in the proposals to change that.

  • Comment number 5.

    16 team SPL1, 16 team SPL2, 3 up, 3 down.

    top 2 teams in PL1 to champions league, next 2 teams europa league.

    I agree with playoffs, but played on a reward system for the team that finishs top of the regular season.

    1st vs 4th, 2nd vs 3rd, over 2 legs, away goals to count in the event of a tie. (In the event of a tie after 90mins of the second game, extra time and penalties)

    Winners to face each other in a 2 leg playoff for the title, again same rules for away, extra time, penalties, etc....

    This gives everyone a chance at the title, and maintains consistency and reward for effort over an entire season.

    If this is implemented, and is successful, it would be an ideal blueprint for the EPL as well.

    Times are changing, and the SF authorities have a chance to create a more entertaining format, that is not only good for the fans, but a highly saleable product for sponsorship, TV rights, etc.....

  • Comment number 6.

    Play offs a good idea, what a load of baloney.
    They have play offs in England to decide the last place in the promotion race not to see who won the Championship or Leagues 1/2/3.

    If this is a serious proposal, and I didn't see anything about during the week, when no one will listen to the fans who don't want a 10 team league then heaven help us.

    Sensible solutions only, such as winter break, start in July, pyramid system, play home/away alternately most agree with but not the size of the league.

    While we're at it, what about kicking off at 2pm instead of 3pm during the winter months? This would assist travelling fans.

    I fear this is going to yet another fudge.

  • Comment number 7.

    i fear that the sfa/spl are going to change as little as they can get away with.the real root of the problem is the quality of the football,they all go on about the fear of relegation,but the real fear is the managers about losing his job.tinkering with numbers wont make any difference,until teams stop depending on tv money and actually get people to come through the gates by playing attractive football."you can put lipstick on a pig,but it's still a pig.

  • Comment number 8.

    16 team SPL giving 30 games +
    top 4 play each other home/away , next 4 play each other home/away etc
    giving 36 games for all

    Also, even split of tv and sponsorship money.

    Out of interest Jim, do you know how much each club receives from tv/sponsorship money ?

  • Comment number 9.

    Top two divisions of 16 teams each playing each other twice, followed by third division of 10 teams, following the current format.

    30 games means virtually all matches, bar a couple, could take place at weekends 3pm which also suits fans and I believe clubs, according to information in McLeish report.

    This format could easily include a winter break and the lesser matches also opens up a 'window' for postponements to be accommodated during weekdays in the usual Tuesday/Wednesday night slot.

    I think that most fans these days have a fair idea of the economic factors involved in Scottish football so if budgets had to be adjusted to accommodate more teams we'd accept that to a greater degree now in order for a more radical change to happen than just reverting back to the beginnings of the SPL a decade ago.

  • Comment number 10.

    Allysarmy - Correct
    Hyperbob - Correct
    Whiskeyjack - Haha yeah whatever. head examination time. Try forgetting about the referees for once.
    Nevarmaor - Correct
    Alexeranderski - Mmmm maybe.
    Morbhoy - Suprisingly agree with you.
    gs5923 - Correct
    Piorek - best suggestion of the lot. Someone buy this man a pint.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think having play-offs to decide promotion/relegation places like the ones in English football are a good idea, but leave the top of the league alone!

    It would be totally unfair that a team finishing 15-20 points behind the old firm at the end of the season could still have a chance of winning the title!

  • Comment number 12.

    i am sooo relieved that it looks like the 10 tier idea is to be blocked. it was just going to be a worse version of what we already have. yes most fans and managers want an expanded league and so it is about time we looked past the small change we are all fighting over and created something for the fans and the feel-good. I urge people not to keep playing the blame game though. i'm a hearts fan but not everything is exclusively OF's fault. it's important we discuss what we want not what we hate. move forward! OF do generate the most tv income and their large slice of the pie can therefore in some sence be justified. on the other hand it also has to be noted that in all leagues there are some teams that attract more attention than others and yet in most leagues they pread tv money 100% equal. there is justification for both. personally i think in the interest of moving forward and away from fighting over the comparatively tiny amounts of money in scottish football an equal share between all would be the most sporting looking forward.

    on the subject of play - offs for the title i'm not in favour i'm afraid jim. the title is the title and top is top. the play-offs for promotions in england can be justified because ultimately 3rd and 6th can both be justified as very good kind of "mid table" postions. both did very well but weren't good enough to be runner up or winner.

    if you suggested the idea partly because a 16 team league is short with 30 games, i would be more in favour of a new regionalised cup competition, in addtion to the other two. assuming that there are to be 3 regions below spl 1 and 2, given the 3 up 3 down idea, all teams who fall in that geographical region would be entered into their regional cup. it would be more for the benefit of allowing a longer and more profitable cup run for those who are about to find themselves playing in regionalised leagues. with a bit of luck, a team like cowdenbeath for example could find themselves in a cup final for "the east of scotland title". to me it has a sporting good feel about it.

    what do others think?? where i live now, in burton on trent, in pre season they have a local cup between like notts county, derby, burton albion etc and they get good gates. burton albion even win it sometimes.

  • Comment number 13.

    2 leagues of 16 is the way forward, 3 up 3 down. play offs to win a league is not the way forward. first past the line wins, that is, after all, the point of a league system. the winner of the 2nd league gains automatic promotion, then next 4 play off over a 2 leg semi and a play off final, as in england, it seems to work well for them. also a fairer share of the financial spoils to give everyone a fair shot.
    there are a few teams in the 1st devision that could easily compete with the lower premier league sides, but due to the 1 up 1 down system we have at the moment dont get the oppotunity to play.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can just see the riots in Glasgow now if the idea of a play-off game to decide the SPL goes ahead.

    Not a bad idea in itself, but not one that can be safely applied to the Scottish game.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't see a 10, 14 or 16 team league work.

    10 team league didn't work before and won't again - too monotonous playing each other 4 times a season not to mention the cup games that will inevitably mean playing some teams 5-6 times a season. Also this format gives the mid-table teams no chance to blood youngsters as there will always be the tension/threat of releagation esp with the 2 up 2 down format.

    14 team will just be like it is now with the split that nobody likes or wants. Teams/supporters will complain that they have to play fellow teams who they are challenging 2 times away and once at home before the split.

    16 team league is a better idea but with only playing each other twice would only mean a 30 game league which i don't think will give most teams the income they need from matchdays.

    I would prefer to see an 18 team league (the top 6 from the current 1st divison could easily complete with the bottom 4 from the SPL) giving a 34 game league with the oppertunity for a winter break. This format would give the mid-table teams a chance to blood the youngsters without the fear of relegation hanging over them. It would also bring more meaning to derby matches playing only the once home and away a season. Below this i suggest 2 divisions of 12 with 3 up from the 1st which could include playoffs (top 2 promoted and 3-6 playoff for final place (or 3-5 and 3rd bottom of premier))and 2 down.

  • Comment number 16.

  • Comment number 17.

    go back to league 1 and 2. 20 teams in each. Play once home and away. 4 up 4 down, simple

  • Comment number 18.

    It's nice to see a general consensus against the insane clique of top teams dictating our football.

    How about taking two leagues of twenty teams, making the second division a conference open to winners of junior, womens and highland leagues, and allowing the bigger fish to field reserve sides in this lower division?

    And most importantly, an even share of broadcast rights, and a simple majority voting system.

  • Comment number 19.

    @15. I agree with you- I don't know why there seem to be Scottish concerns about a 'diluted' expanded league.

    Have 18 teams in the top division and play home and away like everyone else does. Holland, Belgium and Portugal are small countries and yet they have proper leagues. it doesn't stop them producing good teams and good players.

    I've thought for a long time that having Rangers v Celtic almost once a month and the same teams playing each other all the time leads to a stale, boring league and thats exactly whats happened to Scottish football in the last 15 years. There was nothing wrong with the old format. You don't need splits or playing other clubs four times a season. This hasn't worked and it hasn't led to better Scottish performances in Europe or better Scottish players coming through. In fact, both have got worse.

  • Comment number 20.

    The top SPL teams should just go into the English leagues, teams like Celtic and Rangers'll never progress when they're playing league 1 quality opposition week in- week out

  • Comment number 21.

    Attendances Season 2010-2011 to date.
    Club, number of home games and average attendance figure
    Celtic 8 47435
    Rangers 7 44482
    Hearts 10 13659
    Hibs 7 12749
    Aberdeen 7 9849
    Dundee Utd 7 7868
    Kilmarnock 9 5897
    Inverness 8 5251
    Motherwell 8 5025
    St Mirren 9 4542
    St Johnstone 7 4457
    Hamilton 7 2925

    Division 1
    Falkirk 7 4591
    Dundee 9 4528
    Dunfermline 8 3532
    Raith 7 2869
    Ross County 7 2286
    Partick 7 2222
    Q of the S 6 1966
    Morton 8 1946
    Stirling 6 1378
    Cowdenbeath 7 826

    There just are not enough big clubs to make an 18 team SPL. I see attendances dropping and season ticket sales dropping as fans choose the games to go to.. because the quality is not there. The old 1st division of 18 was past its sell by date and thats why the SPL started. The SPL of 10 had served its time, then the change to 12. Now 12 has served its course. There are 'bigger teams' in the 1st division than in the SPL, and Falkirk, Dundee, Dunfermline and Partick are all bigger than Hamilton, perhaps, others, and have potential to get up to and beyond Motherwell. The longer these teams are in the 1st division, the more fans get disallusioned and stop going, just as has happened with the SPL. Celtic are down 8,000 fans average this year alone!!! What will it drop to if they play QOS, Morton, back to the days of figures in the 20,000's I bet. Every clubs attendance figures in the SPL1 would drop!

    The solution I have is 14 teams in the SPL 1 and 14 in SPL 2. Play each other twice, then SPLIT, top 8 play home and away for all European places. Bottom 6 and top 4 from SPL2 start from scratch and play home and away with the top 6 gaining a place in next seasons SPL1. Bottom 10 from SPL2 join whatever league structure there is below in some format, with the top 10 winning a place in SPL2
    That will keep the season interesting for all the 'big clubs'. Income high for the top 8 with Cetic, Rangers, etc visting twice, 4 old firm derbies for the TV, European places to play for.
    But it will mean important games for the bottom 6 and top 4 of SPL2, playing twice for the next years 6 places in SPL1, average gates may increase as they have more to play for.

    I know it is not complete as an idea, but it plays to the top 18 teams (14 SPL 1 and top 4 from SPL2) in Scotland, keeping interest for all of these teams throughout the whole season, potentially not dropping gate money, keeping the tv company happy and hopefully allowing the continued development of younger players in a competitive environment, against teams of a similar level.

    As I say, its not a complete idea, but would be willing to hear improvements to it.
    Jim, is this workable?

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh, and summer football is a must. There are more games, so play in weather that allows football to be played.
    We need to start our season so we are able to cope with the preliminary rounds in Europe. The old firm recognise this NOW (it didn't matter for the lesser teams in the Europa cup qualifiers) as they will be in the early rounds of the Champions League qualifiers and can't risk being caught cold. July 1st start. However I think we should work towards a winter close season, 12 weeks just as we have in the summer at the moment.
    Controvential I know, difficult to manage, yes, revolutionary, yes.

  • Comment number 23.

    Had to laugh at Henry McLeish's performance on "Off The Ball" yesterday.

    For all his posturing and bluster, his conclusion is basically that the SPL was a bad idea, and we should go full-circle back to the setup (in terms of one league structure) and dimensions which predate the "Greed Is Good" SPL.

    How much money has flowed out of football to fund McLeish's utterly pointless report?

    There aren't many aspects of American sport which are to be envied, but there at least the organisers aren't unduly beholden to the competitors.

    The biggest trouble with the game in Scotland is that the SFA and league bodies are peopled by club appointees, with a narrow self-interest; we should have elected (by clubs, etc.) representatives running the game, conceivably all from the Old Firm or indeed none from the Old Firm, with long-term tenure (five year terms, with only one-fifth up for reelection on an annual basis) to act in the best interest of the game.

  • Comment number 24.

    at #1 good post.

    although the playoff idea IS intruiging. consequences for europe to think about though.

    10-team leauge will get pure borin. also makes derbies and the big games mean less because it happens so often, home and away once each season plus a cup tie or two makes winning more special and gettin beat worse. there's also more anticipation for them because there's longer between each meeting. imagine if the world cup was every year, it would detract from its importance.

    i know this from supporting a team in england and a team in scotland, although admittedly with the scottish team having much fewer derbies and significant games than the other

  • Comment number 25.

    and goodie2feet your idea sounds good to me, although maybe thats why we're not in charge. you seem to need to be a little illogical to get to run scottish football

  • Comment number 26.

    There are a lot of issues for Scottish football to shake out - with finances being very much at the root of it. I think there needs to be some radical solutions suggested - as Goodie2feet displays, outside of the Old Firm attendances are quite low, and that needs changing somehow.

    It would be worth looking into some manner of involving some English clubs in some manner, maybe as an occasional 'guest spot' in the SPL or some kind of small, out-of-season, extra league - someone like Newcastle would certainly boost attendances and income.

  • Comment number 27.

    The "play each other four times" thing is suffocating the league to stagnation. Why not just increase the number of teams to 16 or 18, have 2 go down / come up and include play-offs?
    Playing off rugby style for the title is a bit silly. How many teams would be involved, if only two then it would still be Celtic and Rangers usually.
    Playing each other once home and away is much more interesting and will encourage teams to go for the win, home and away.

  • Comment number 28.

    Seriously the stupidest idea I've seen, and having frequented 606 I've seen some really stupid ideas.

    The other teams aren't good enough to win the title throughout the course of the league, so let's just ignore everything that has gone before and play off for the title. Rubbish idea. The best team wins the league. In every league in Europe the best teams in the league are in general the richest ones. It's a fact of life. If I ever win anything I would like to think I merit it. To come fourth in a league championship and end up winning the league would not be winning the league on merit

  • Comment number 29.

    How about deducting 15 points each from Celtic and Rangers to compensate for the advantages that have accrued from 100 years of sectarianism ? That's what this boils down to in the end.

  • Comment number 30.

    Has to be first past the past to decide the SPL title. It's the fairest method, and can you imagine the mayhem of a one-off Old Firm game to decide the title? They'd need to play it on the moon at 3 in the morning.

    As part of a 16 team SPL the team finishing third bottom could play home and away against the third place team in the division below, the winner playing in the top flight the following season.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's good to see that fans are coming up with more radical ideas than 10 teams in a league. Mind you, whoever listens to us?

    As mentioned in earlier post, I am in favour of a 16 team league but understand that 30 games don't bring as much matchday income as before. However, surely like any business, clubs should budget for what's ahead.

    Rangers and Celtic shouldn't worry about fewer matches. With any free match time they could re-introduce the Glasgow Cup over two legs to make up their four a season games. Anyway, if the Premiership invited the Old Firm to join them they would bite their hand off. I hope the other clubs don't get railroaded by the big two looking after their own interests. It's Scottish football not Old Firm football that needs to be developed.

  • Comment number 32.

    Some info. on the 18-team league from an old timer:
    It lasted for 20 seasons and produced league titles for Celtic(9), Rangers(7), Hearts(2), Dundee and Kilmarnock.
    It was scrapped for two reasons:
    1. Celtic had just won it 9 times in a row.
    2. There were too many meaningless end-of-season games with poor attendances.
    These meaningless games, however, were used to give young players a taste of top-level football, and many future internationalists started their careers in those matches, eventually earning their clubs big transfer income from England. There were relatively few season tickets in those days, so the fall in attendances might not be quite so drastic nowadays.
    The 20 seasons of that league yielded two Scottish winners of European trophies, two beaten finalists and six beaten semi-finalists, including Dundee, Dunfermline and Kilmarnock.
    The 10-team league turned top teams into relegation strugglers. You can't have an exciting championship race involving 3 or 4 teams unless there is a tail-end of mediocre teams against which the top teams can gather points. Beating either of the OF in a big league is significant, because you only play them twice.
    I don't know whether 18 teams is the best formula, but 10 is definitely not!

  • Comment number 33.

    Nearly everyone involved with or interested in the Scottish game has had enough of the monotony of playing each other 4 times a season (possibly more for the top teams if you include cups). This is the reason the game is dying on its feet. Take a look at the attendances over the past few seasons, particularly those below the top 6. They are shocking. The vast majority of supporters want a 16 (or even 18) team top division playing each other home and away. There are 6 teams in the 1st division who have just as big a support as most of the bottom 6 in the premier. Home games against the old firm no longer guarantee significantly larger crowds for the majority of teams, so the impact of only 1 home game against them per season will not be nearly as bad as some have suggested. It's worrying and annoying that Mr Doncaster (who was meant to be bringing in fresh/innovative ideas to pick the Scottish game off the floor) is supporting a 10 team top league as this appears to be out of touch/lacking in vision as to what the problem is, and how to go about sorting it.

    Another benefit of teams playing each other only twice is that it should be easier for a team outwith the old firm to have a chance of winning the league, because only 12 points are at stake in their games v the old firm, as opposed to 24 points in the present system, which favours the old firm.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Have 18 teams in the top division and play home and away like everyone else does. Holland, Belgium and Portugal are small countries and yet they have proper leagues. it doesn't stop them producing good teams and good players."

    You know these countries are actually at least twice the size of Scotland and have less leagues than we do too?

    We can't have an 18 team league, we're simply too small. 16 at most. The lower leagues needs to be regionalised for sure though, no doubt about it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Among other changes, definitely summer evening football with winter close season.

    Anyone know what the legal position would be if all the other clubs defected to a new league structure without the Old Firm? It would be like pretending the OF had deserted to an English league - leaving the OF high and dry with zero bargaining power. They could then be admitted on the rest's terms - like sharing gate receipts, evenly distributing TV money, restricting squad size to prevent the buying up of talent, or any other wheezes that would empower the other clubs.

  • Comment number 36.

    32 Sanquharhibby.

    Good points and very interesting post.

    I remember watching so called smaller teams like Dumbarton, Clyde, Clydebank, Partick, East Fife, etc. coming to Tynecastle and having a right good go at Hearts because they had nothing to lose, and likewise Hearts went to Rangers and Celtic and had a good go because there were only 2 points at stake; nobody expected East Fife et al to beat Hearts at Tynecastle, and nobody expected Hearts to beat Rangers or Celtic on their home patches, but it happened.

    Maybe I am looking back fondly and forgetting the dire games I must have witnessed, but when I was a youngster I wanted to visit every away ground in Scotland following Hearts, but nowadays it's the same teams week after week and it just got very boring.

    Why don't we bring back the league format of the League cup, with all the premier clubs seeded and meeting one team from each of the other three divisions. Gate mney could be pooled and split evenly between all four teams in the league, which would help the lower league teams to survive.

  • Comment number 37.

    First of all i would like to say its outrageous that the new suggestion is a league of ten
    do the blazer boyz not remember they tried that before

    Scottish football is dying and we need something massive to revitalise it
    i follow aberdeen home and away all the time and it is getting really boring visiting the same grounds all the time

    The proposed winter break will not work due the fact of how unpredictable the scottish weather is for example we could get the best winter weather during the break then come back and have absoulutely shocking weather

    what i think would work an 18 team league play each other home and away and at the end of the season there is a playoff system like in the lower divisions the team that finishes bottom goes straight down and the 1st division winner comes up and then the team that finishes second bottom of the spl has a playoff with the team that finishes second top of the 1st division and at the top i think playoffs for the title is a very exciting idea but that will not take off because of champions league and europa league placings and also our old firm pals would not be happy if a team like aberdeen, hearts, dundee utd etc finished 30 points behind but still won the league

    Finally i would like to round off by saying whatever is decided it has got be in the best interests of the whole of scottish football and not just the bigwigs at the top
    football is our national sport and the sfa should pull out all the stops to save our game

  • Comment number 38.

    Rules to make Scottish Football Better.

    1. Regions set up so teams can only pick and play young Scottish players (0-23yrs) from within their local region. This stops the Old Firm or any other teams stealing regional talent and then dumping them on the scrapheap a few years later. Teams will be more balanced and competitive.

    2. A limit to any non local region players, such as an 8 player max import rule on over 23s. This will help teams represent their local region/population better and encourage local supporters to support their local teams, whilst allowing teams to purchase star imports as well.

    3. 16 team top league with 32 games in regular season. SFL, juniors and possibly amateur leagues combined, smallest supported teams in SFL disbanded and replaced.

    4. League starts in March and finishes early December. Scottish FA Cup to start day 1 of season and include all amateur and junior sides from round 1. IF Scotland ever qualify for World Cup/ Euro Champs again then league games postponed in June and games compressed (less games anyway so should be easy to implement)

    5. play-off games for top 4 and bottom 4 teams in premier league, (or extended to top 8 bottom 8 in a more complicated system).

    6. top 4 teams play off for championship. for example, 1st gets home advantage vs 4th, 2nd home adv vs 3rd in semi finals. if 1st and 2nd win semis 1st hosts the final vs 2nd for championship. A similar set-up at the bottom where losers are relegated.

    7. Voting system changed to a 12-4 system.

    The biggest problems with Scottish football now are our national sport is religion based and not region based, most players have no loyalty or connection to the teams they play for or their supporters. Young talented players are snapped up by the big 2, stuck in reserves and wasted. If they played for their local teams it would strengthen the league and also improve the national side in time.

    The SPL tries to compete with the English Premiership and loses out badly. Young kids would rather watch Premiership teams full of foreigners than SPL teams full of foreigners. If Scottish teams represented the kids and their region/city better then kids would be more likley to support Scottish football as it would mean something to them.

  • Comment number 39.

    It seems to me that playing Celtic or 'them' 4 times a season makes the league more predictable. If there were 18 teams in the league there is a greater chance of Hearts or Dundee Utd hanging on for longer. Maybe Aberdeen if they could get their house in order too. Teams might be able to match the old firm once or twice a season, but 4 times is completely unrealistic given the respective resources.

    Didn't Hibs get more punters through the gates when they were going for promotion back to the SPL? Given the number of first division sides that are capabale of knocking spl teams out of the cup competitions would an 18 team spl really be diluted? One or 2 teams may be very weak, but up the amount of loan players available and they will soon get stronger. If loan players from England or Russia (Eremenko), look at Kilmarnock, are brought in it also makes the league more watchable as there will be an interest from those areas too.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't agree with the play-off for the title. I don't think it's right for the Dutch and I don't think it's right for us. It devalues the title. If you finish fourth but win the two ties in the play-off, who else is going to think you deserve the title?

    I don't agree with a top flight of ten. STILL PLAYING EACH OTHER FOUR TIMES A YEAR: EXACTLY WHAT THE FANS DON'T WANT! Having an "SPL2" of ten more is just window dressing. How much more are the SPL2 clubs going to earn than the current Division One clubs, when there's so little TV money to go around anyway? And are the fans going to get excited about playing the same teams, just because they're in SPL2? The rebranding didn't make much difference to "The Championship" in England. And WE GOT RID OF THE 10-TEAM TOP FLIGHT BECAUSE EIGHT CLUBS STARTED THE SEASON PANICKING THAT THEY WERE GOING TO GET RELEGATED. LET'S NOT HAVE THAT AGAIN!

    And I don't agree with sharing all home gate income equally. But I do think Celtic and Rangers could and probably should subsidise the other clubs to a certain extent from their gate revenue, in a sort of income tax style. Maybe 10%, maybe more, of everyone's gate revenue could go into a pot to be shared equally between all the teams in the top flight. Then you could have a top flight of 16 or 18 - which is what the fans want - while lessening the impact of losing Sky money because of the fewer Old Firm games. It would also make the league a bit more competitive by lessening the financial difference between the Old Firm and the rest.

    And proper promotion and relegation between the current SFL and the Highland League, East of Scotland League, etc.

    And no winter break! What good would a break in January do us this season!? It would just add to the fixture pile-up. If we're serious about getting round our weather, the only answer is summer football.

    And while I'm at it, maybe force each club to play, say, three under-23s in every game.

    There. Sorted. Henry McLeish can take the rest of the season off.

    Sorry about all the capitals.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why is everyone referring to the English league setup? What makes it so good/different from any other league in Europe, it's certainly not the best league. Digression aside, the problem here is that the fat cats are ignorant, there are 42 so called professional teams in four leagues in this country, we have a population of 5.8 million, which to me means we should look at how other legues thrive in similar sized countries (Holland), the answer is simple, two leagues of 20 with promotion from the Juniors/East/West of Scotland.

  • Comment number 42.

    Ten team leagues?? Play offs at the top of the league?? Eh? Both are really stupid ideas, designed to tighten the grip of the Old Firm, if that's at all possible. Now before anyone starts calling me provincial, I'm a Rangers fan, but I want to see a closer league, interesting games, more passing, more skill, more entertainment, and more Scottish boys coming through. Currently the Old Firm win even when they are rubbish, and this set up will just entrench that further.

    A fairer distribution of finances. The Old Firm get too much.

    Two leagues of 16 teams. Top 5 teams after 30 games play each other again twice. This idea may have people calling me a hypocrite, but I think it's a more suitable compromise than a play off where the team finishing fourth might win the league in a 'final'.

    One up three down, and play offs for another two promotion places.

    Start in July

    Winter break of 3 or 4 weeks, but not fixed as the weather is not fixed.

    Force teams to play a certain number of Scots in the first half at the very least. I'd actually like to see this taken further with teams forced to start games with 7 locally born boys. Distance for local to be determined by population density. This would connect teams better with their local community and their history, and again enhance the Scotland team as Scottish boys get more games. I doubt this will ever even be discussed in a million years though.

    Ten team leagues is a step backwards. Results in Europe will not improve and the Scotland team will get worse unless boys look towards playing abroad.

  • Comment number 43.


    I see some people advocating summer football, instead of a winter break. I wouldn't be against summer football, but, again, would the dinosaurs at the Old Firm/SPL/SFA just have a heart attack at the thought?

  • Comment number 44.

    does anyone remember when you would wait for the fixtures to be published then you would mark out all your dont miss games ie derbies old firm etc now it does not matter if you miss one you can catch the next one (a bit like buses) you then get into the habit of not going to games

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Surely going to a larger league of 18 or 20 where each team plays the other home and away would result in a far better league. There are easily another 6 or 8 teams in the 1st division who could come up and give the other teams in the SPL a run for their money.

    As for people talking about attendances going down, I think you might find fans of the lower SPL teams would be more willing to go and watch their team if they thought they had a chance of winning.

  • Comment number 47.

    Add my vote against 10 team league.

    Go for a larger league, with MORE promotion/relegation. Teams are terrified of being relegated at the moment, because they can end up stuck in the lower leagues for years ( Dundee, Partick, Dunfermline etc). But if we had something like a 16 team league with 4 up / down; it would still hurt to be relegated, but teams could realistically expect to come back up quite soon. And the turnover in teams would freshen up the top league too.

  • Comment number 48.

    Scotland have a real opportunity with this league to do things that fans have wanted in football for such a long time.

    I would like to see a larger Premier League introduced, with more opportunity to be relegated/promoted to ease the burden of staying down. I'd also like to see Scotland lead the way in terms of a salary cap on all teams to bring spending in line with each other and introduce a fair system over a couple of teams. Perhaps Scotland could even play with radical ideas of video technology, post-match refereeing for divers and cheats in the game and moving some of the money spent on players towards improving the experience for the fans through cheaper ticket prices, better facilities in stadiums, cheaper publishing rights and perhaps even free online matches on the BBC, etc.

    Scotland has a real opportunity to provide a league like no other. Despite what people think Scotland has a number of great teams that can still do it on the European stage, and Scotland will continue to breed talent. If the SPL introduces a salary cap and pushes rules like home-grown players, video refereeing and rules on the mandatory use of an under 21 player in each side I can definitely see the league growing and expanding itself.

  • Comment number 49.

    Play-offs at the top are a ridiculous idea. Let's hope common sense prevails. That would be a novelty!

  • Comment number 50.

    Seriously when are people going to stop complaining about meaningless games? I mean every single league has its meaningless games, but that certainly doesn't stop the fans from turning up!

    I for one would want to see SPL 1 and 2 with 16 teams playing twice a season home and away i.e. 30 games . So if your still complaining about lack of fixtures, then why not change the set up of the League Cup or the Scottish Cup like how they have it in Spain a two leg fixture or set up a group stages between 2 SPL 1 teams and 2 SPL 2 teams playing twice home and away then the knock-out stages. Yes I know it was apparently rubbish in the day but times have changed, so would it be much worse than what we have for a League just now?

    I am not sure if I'm the only one who is fed up with saying so how many times we played them this season? So we still have to play them like another once or twice? I mean how stupid is that!

    Freshen up the competition! Play every team less, therefore less repetitive, because we all know by the Cups that the lower league teams can make it hard for the so called "Top Dogs"

  • Comment number 51.

    What is the difference between having play-offs for the Championship and play-offs for relegation/promotion?

    Answer: There is none.

    A team could finish 20 points clear of the relegation zone, but still have to play play-off matches to avoid relegation. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    A Championship play-off combined with the switch to summer has worked for Rugby League. No reason why the same wouldn't work for our fitba. We could also go for licensing for a couple of years - no relegation. Give clubs a guarenteed income and allow them the opportunity to develop. If we're going to change, let's make it radical and fit for the 21st century.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    I genuinely believe that Championship PLay-offs would have a great effect on the league. This season, can you imagine the excitement for ICT/Killie/Motherwell/Dundee Utd of reaching 4th and 'having a chance' at the title?

    It would create a really interesting narrative for the season, something all great competitions need, providing an additional facet to the usual OF saga.

    In a one off game the teams I listed above would fancy their chances. But the play-offs would be home and away, making the OF strong favourites to proceed to the final. Fair enough. But the prospect of 'having a chance' would be really motivating, I believe.

    The major difficulty of course would be police consent for a one-off game to decide the league. Which is incredibly depressing for a supposedly civilised society.

  • Comment number 54.

    Call me a cynic, but perhaps the main reason for kite-flying the 10-team league idea (been there, tried that, didn't like it!) is that the next proposal - whatever it might be - will be seen in a more favourable light.

  • Comment number 55.

    How about 2 leagues of 16, 2 up, 2 down with promotion play-offs.

    Regionalise everything below these 32 teams, creating 3 regional leagues, North, East and West with the 3 champions of these meeting the team finishing bottom of 'SPL 2' in play-offs. You could also work it with 4 regions and an automatic relegation.

    Re-vamp the league cup so it has a group stage, the 32 teams from the 2 league = 8 groups of 4. Play home and away with 2 teams from each division is each group. This would make up most of the lost games by going to a 16 team league and hopefully provide some greater guarenteed income for 'SPL 2' teams as they'd be guarenteed 4 games against 'SPL 1' opposition. Parachute payments can then be filtered down from the league to support the regional leagues.

    The regional leagues also with an 'league cup' taking place between the regional divisions so they themselves do not become bored from being confind to your region if they don't get a run in the Scottish cup.

    SPL clubs could then field 'B' teams in the regional leagues but would not be able to gain promotion to 'SPL 2.'

    This alongside a earlier start to the season and a winter break (starting on 3rd January, after all the new years derbys.)

    This would hopefully solve the monotony of having to play everyone 4 times a season, give a much needed re-vamp to the league cup, provde exitement at top and bottom ends of the table through play-offs and allow 'mid-table' clubs a bit more freedom to develop young players. It could also provide a fairer distribution of monies and more opportunites for the current SFL 1 & 2 clubs.

  • Comment number 56.

    I agree that a 10 team league with 4 games head to head is done and over. Dismayed a bit that WS thinks thats the way ahead i.e. basically no change.

    Heres an off-the-wall one: two 12 team SPL's. You play your own league opponents twice, so 22 games. But you introduce the idea of inter-divisional games ( like things such as the NFL does), where a further 12 games are played against the twelve in the other league. Six home, six away for a 34 game season.

    This makes for a major profile for both leagues and increased revenue possibilites for TV coverage etc. Take the current set up with Rangers and Dunfermline heading their divisions. Imagine a title on the line at the end of the season in each division with Rangers and Dunfermline going head to head, the winner being their respective divsional champions!! mad, crazy but it works for me!

  • Comment number 57.

    The idea of play offs for the winner of any league is a bad one in my opinion. Very bad. Play offs work down south as it is for the 3rd/4th promotion spot, not 1st or 2nd. I dont like some of these suggestions of different splits. We have tried this and it doesn't work. It causes issues with fixtures and still doesn't get round the staleness of playing each other so often. This is a problem in the lower divisions also!
    I think the SPL needs expanded, but whether that is to 16 or 18+, I am not sure. Depending on the expansion, depends on how the rest of the SFL will be structued.

    If SPL of 16, I would suggest:

    1. Bottom 2 relegated, no play offs
    2. Division 1 of 16 teams, 2 up (no play offs), and 3 down
    3. Have 3 Regional leagues below incorporating Highland, East and West leagues, winners are promoted to Division 1. Depending on who is relegated may change what league teams play in

    If SPL of 18, I would suggest:

    1. Bottom 3 relegated, no play offs
    2. Division 1 of 16 teams, 3 up (with play off for 3rd promoted team) and 3 down
    3. Same as point 3 above.

    Some people will argue this is not enough games, but this set up will allow a winter break. Those that moan about attendances and that why would a supporter of Celtic/Rangers/whoever want to turn up to watch them play QoS need to ask themselves, are you actually a supporter? Attendances are dropping because the football on show is boring and at times negative.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think far too many people are quick to react to this and the other proposals that are being put forward. Instead of throwing every suggestion away because its too radical or for some people just not radical enough, lets get an open debate going. People need to think things through very carefull here and not be led by a fear of change or just how the changes will affect their club.

    The suggestion of championship play offs is an unusual one and has both pro's anmd con's. The obvious drawback everyone can is the feeling that a team finishing top might not win the championship and this is not something we are used to in football. However:

    - If the top team is truly head and shoulders above the rest surely they'd win the play offs with ease? No?
    - The seasons recently when the title was decided on the last day of the season have been really exciting (well for scottish football anyway). Imagine that scenario every single season?

    One thing I don't understand of Stephen Thompson's suggestion is that he says he doesn't want a 10 team division but then he suggests a championship play off as a compromise to having a 10 team division? how does that solve the problem? Surely a championship play off is the perfect balance to losing those extra old firm games if we went to an 18 team top league.

    Teams playing the old firm twice a year have a far greater chance to overcome them than if they play them 4 times. Over 4 games the greater resources become almost impossible to overcome. So 18 teams would see the 3rd and 4th place teams much closer to the top 2. (if you are unsure of this imagine the EPL where teams like Bolton have to play Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea 4 times a year)

  • Comment number 59.

    I think 54 is on to something. I wondered this morning if Stephen Thompson might be deliberately flying a kite with this play off suggestion with a design to specifically get up Old Firm noses; have the 10 team league idea thrown out and the 16 ushered in as a compromise. God, I hope so!

  • Comment number 60.

    Ultimately what hinders anyone challenging the Old Firm is money. One way to help would be to split the home gates and TV money more equally, rather than have them hog most of the cash.

    Of course, the Old Firm would complain, but then they also complain that no-one can challenge them. They can't have it both ways.

  • Comment number 61.

    Highly unlikely that it would ever happen, but I think it would be great to see a joint Scottish/English league cup.

    Imagine the revenue and interest potentially generated for all the smaller clubs concerned across borders. Not to mention the potential ties that could be thrown up. Aberdeen vs Man Utd; Celtic vs Liverpool; Arsenal vs Berwick Rangers....

    Would be brilliant.

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't think the formation of the SPL has improved the Scottish game one bit. In fact, I'd say it's gone downhill from day one. Teams playing each other 4 times a season is rubbish. A ten team league is a stupid idea.
    And play-offs are the Devil's own invention!

  • Comment number 63.

    #21 Goodie2feet, your figures for average attendances are misleading.

    The average attendances for teams in the first division are not comparable with those in the SPL since they are from games against lesser supported, less attractive teams.

    For example, St Johnstone's average attendance in the first division in 08-09 was 3,516. The following season in the SPL it was 4,717 - a 35% increase.

    Taking that into account, there were 18 teams with a greater average attendance than Hamilton in season 2009-10.

  • Comment number 64.

    If we had a play-off for the Championship, surely both the OF clubs would be encouraged to blood more young players during the season. They could rest their main stars from time to time as they should be fairly secure for a top 2 finish. (If they weren't then that would add further interest to the campaign).

    The more I think about the Championship play-off, the more I like it.

  • Comment number 65.

    Old Firm fans can complain all they like that the idea touted by Stephen Thompson is ridiculous, and to an extent, I agree with them. If I supported a team that finished 10 points clear of the opposition, then lost the title in a play off situation, I would be gutted.

    With that in mind, something radical really does need to be proposed to revitalise the SPL. You only have to watch the highlights of every non-old firm game to realise this. For those South of the Border, you could be mistaken for thinking we play the games behind closed doors, judging by the empty stands on show.

    I believe that 25 years of knowing the title destination is catching up on us. If this continues for another 25 years, the Scottish full time game will die, and might well drag the Glasgow giants down with it.

  • Comment number 66.

    Just throwing this out there seeing as radical ideas are the flavour of the day: teams get an extra point if they score say more than 2 goals in a game. Might make games more entertaining if teams really go for it and try to score more goals rather than sitting on a 1-0 or 2-0 lead. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 67.

    Anyone for spl 16 - 20 teams ewith equal tv money split(except if sky sports want to pay extra for old firm then you can't really argue) and a split second tier?

    Top team from both go up with mixed playoffs for the last place?

    But you cant rig the league to halt rangers and celtic, it will be spectacular when they dont win but its unfair to punish their position to hand out un-earned titles. Poor european performances means less teams in europe years later, i dont think sending 4th place to champs league will help that.

    @# 61 - english/scottish league cup would help all teams and the undervalued cup in both with no added fixture congestion...maybe ask wales too, why not.

    and rangers and celtic to play in england? ask cardiff and swansea if its worth it, just dont expect to win anything.

  • Comment number 68.

    play offs for the championship ,you can not be serious,we have already ruined the league with the ridiculous split.everybody plays the same teams home and away over the season ,that is a league.imagine if the team in fourth place finishes 30 points behind first place team as frequently happens, but they hit a bit of form at the end of the season and the top team gets a lot of injuries and fourth place wins the mini-tournament and are crowned champions.we would be a laughing stock.this is just a bit of oppertunisim by a few clubs who fancy their chances and reeks of the self interest which they all promised to put aside.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think it has to be an SPL with 16 teams playing home and away once equaling 30 games with 2 automatically down and 3rd bottom going into the play offs with teams from league below.
    Then add in a SPL Cup at the end of the season and seed each team depending on position, 1st v 16th,2nd v 15th all the way 7th v 8th and play each other home and away, the cup could be pre drawn using the seedings all the way to the final so teams know who they will be playing next giving them more reason to finish higher up the league to miss out the big teams and bring in more revenue and another shot at silverware. This is guaranteeing every team 32 games a year and also giving the 2 automatically relegated teams one more big game home and away against the top two (more than likely Rangers and Celtic) giving them some extra income before they drop down and giving them an added incentive to get straight back up to play the big teams again.
    I would also like to see the SFA,SPL and SFL merge into a Scottish Football Federation.
    Below the top league there should be another 2 leagues of 16 using the same format as the top league with top 2 going up and 3rd 4th and 5th going into play offs with team in 3rd bottom in league above, each league would use the same seeding system for its own cup at the end of the season like the one explaned. This would add another 6 teams into the scottish league. A Rangers and Celtic B team makes sense as long as there is no regionalisation.
    Some sort of pryamid system below these league with the top Juniors teams,Highland Leagues and East of Scotland league changed into Scottish Conferences like down south
    Any comments ?

  • Comment number 70.

    Now that we have all read Steven Thompsons motivation behind the play off idea, fed up with OF winning the SPL every time and MONEY( bumper gates & tv coverage) we can see it for the absurd suggestion it is.

    If he and non-OF fans are fed up why don't they do something about improving their own teams, in his case by getting better players and in the fans' case by actually turning up to support said teams ?

    A 10 team league will be disaster whether dressed up with gimmicks or not. Fans are fed up with the same old faces turning up with ever increasing regularity and I would caution against being determined to preserve 4 OF games per season as familiarity breeds contempt as attendances show. The number of OF fans attending away games has dropped dramatically.

    We could have an 18 team league quite easily, the top 6 from the current SFL would do for starters.Play each other twice a season, home and away.
    This would benefit those clubs that don't get the chance to play OF in a league at present, should bring in more fans to their home games and allow them to produce better teams over a period of time.
    To those who say there would be too many meaningless games, what do you think we have now?

    The structure below can be regional/pyramid, whatever suits best involving any Junior teams that want to participate.

    I can guarantee that if the powers that be stick with a 10 team SPL, season ticket sales will drop even further and interest will wane. Once fans get out of the habit of attending matches it's hard to get them back.

    It's time Clubs, SFA, SPL, SFL listened to the people that really matter, the fans.Why don't they have a poll of all season ticket holders and ask our opinion of a 10 team league? Because they already know the answer.

  • Comment number 71.

    How about a 16 team league where everybody plays each other home and away. That would give you 30 games. The top 4 then split and play each other home & away to decide the title/3rd & 4th (They retain their points from the previous 30 games). This would give them 36 games and the champions are decided over the course of 36 games instead of just playoffs at the end of the season.

    The teams finishing 5th to 8th would then play off for the final Europa League spot(assuming we had that many)by playing each other home and away. The points they had gained in the previous 30 games would be wiped but the team finishing 5th would start the playoffs with 3 points, 6th 2, 7th 1 & 8th 0. This would give them 36 games. The team finishing top get the European spot.

    The bottom team would get relegated and replaced by the champions of spl 2. The 2nd bottom team would play the 2nd top in SPL 2 home and away in relegation play offs.

    The teams finishing 9th - 14th would only play 30 games.

    With a 16 team league you only play each other twice so there is not the boredom of playing the same teams all the time. Teams also get more breathing space to play more attractive football and blood youngsters. You also get the excitement of trying to make the top 4/8 and avoid the relegation play offs. Plus the playoff system gives you exciting games at the end of the season & hopefully bigger crowds.

  • Comment number 72.

    You've got to wonder what the SPL and those compiling the McLeish Report have been doing with their time.

    Two ten team leagues? What does that do to stimulate Scottish football? We were in this situation before, and the game became stale. What this will do for the bigger clubs in Division One - who frankly deserve to be in the SPL - I have no idea. Indeed, what will this do for the 'smaller fish' in the SPL? You cannot expect the smaller teams to thrive - let alone survive - in a smaller league. It's totally unfeasable.

    Top four playoffs? This is the most ridiculous proposal yet, and that is saying something. You could have a team who have scraped their way into fourth position ending up as champions, representing Scotland in the Champions League. It would do wonders for the co-efficient. Rangers and Celtic are champions every year for a reason - they're the only two clubs who are able to maintain form and consistency over a 38 game season. It wouldn't be fair to take away what is deserved from them (indeed, it wouldn't have been fair to take away Hearts' Champions League Qualification place in 2005/06 when they finished second - if the team is good enough, and their form across 38 games warrants their position then they will get what they deserve).

    My favoured idea involves two eighteen team leagues where the teams play each other twice; the SPL would be big enough to involve the bigger teams of Division One, while not having any crazy gimmicks like the split or top of the league playoffs. Two up, two down. The First Division would be the same. Two up and two down. The Second Division and thereafter could be regionalised and made up of Semi-Pro teams and Juniors. It would comprise a pyramid system, effectively allowing for smaller teams to rise from any league in Scotland up to the SPL. We'd have a winter break, and continue with the League Cup and the Scottish Cup.

    We are in a rut. Until sensible reforms to our game are made it will continue this way. The SPL, SFL and SFA need to come together for the good of the game and do what is best for the clubs, for the fans and for Scottish football - not for themselves. Our game needs changing, but it can only be done if approached in the right manner and for the right reasons.

  • Comment number 73.

    The reason the clubs don't want a 16 or 18 team league is simple. Because the diddy teams generate so little income from attendances, they need to play Rangers and Celtic at least 3 times a year to break even. I.e. they rely on the much-despised Celtic and Rangers fans putting their hands in their pockets to keep these clubs afloat.

  • Comment number 74.

    Here we go again, thrashing around 'ideas'!
    In the 1950/60's when I started to watch live football, the stadiums were often full at all grounds. Football was popular then! We all know about the impact of social change and in particular the impact of TV and technology in general. Football in Scotland failed to remain popular. Let's face it - the 'product' (hate that modernism!) is too expensive, poor quality, uncomfortable surroundings for modern day people, expensive travel costs - need I go on - and the slide will continue!
    What will the 'big' clubs do when Scottish football dies - that is what is happening.
    NO CLUB HAS A RIGHT TO SURVIVE - over the years mighty organisations have come and GONE - this will happen unless we all wake up! Complacency is rife in our 'bigger' clubs. The irony is that when they do all fall from grace and Ibrox, Parkhead, Tyncastle, Pitodrie, etc become town houses, the grass roots level will survive and the really small clubs will thrive again.
    Meanwhile we continue to play the fiddle while Rome burns!

    Our starting point in the discussion on improving Scottish football has got to be -
    Who are we trying to attract to the game - TV audience or stadium fans? It seems to me the attending fans are secondary to the TV wants. If the answer really is TV then football will die across Scotland because none of this money helps the SFL clubs or anyone else other than a select few.
    What source of income do we require and how do we ensure this money helps the game?
    I look out of my window and I see Starks Park in glorious flood lights - no game played there for weeks. In fact most grounds are completely unused and no income for about 95% of their life!
    We need to design a system across Scotland that provides cash to clubs to expand facilities and diversify use.
    Install Gyms, 5 a side facilities for kids, cafes, cinemas, bowling, shops etc
    American baseball stadiums have such facilities and loads of FAMILY entertainment on offer.
    How about indoor facilities? Is that too much to consider? Millenium type stadia with a roof!
    I believe we should consider the live audience and provide modern day facilities. If the 'product' is then attractive to a live audience and the facilities are used extensively in other commercial ways, TV companies will be attracted and the money - if shared FAIRLY and EQUALLY - would be an extra benefit and NOT an essential pot to be grabbed by the biggest hands.

    Playing around with a play off system or a 10 + 12 league will achieve nothing.
    If this is all we can come up with then...
    Scottish football - RIP

  • Comment number 75.

    Right, here's my suggestion for making the SPL worth watching.

    The basic problem is the standard of football, something has to be done to make the games more attacking. Given that the win-at-all-costs philosophy of our game causes teams to set up in a very dour and cautious way, we need to build the incentive for attacking football into the league structure.

    I suggest bonus points for scoring a certain amount of goals. One point for two goals, two points for four goals, three points for five goals. Once a high-scoring defeat gives more points reward than a goalless draw, then we will see enterprising attacking football. Not just because of the attitude of the players, but because the managers will see it is to their advantage to fill their teams with attacking, creative players rather than the lumbering defenders, the defensive midfielders, and the general hatchet men & disruptors who seem to be the staple of our game at present.

  • Comment number 76.

    The best solution from a FANS point of view is this
    1) an 18 Team league
    2) you play each other 17 times in part 1 of the league and have a league winner after 17 games
    3) part two of the season you play another 17 games, same fixtures but home or away based , the opposite of the previous fixture
    4) the TWO league winners have a play off at final end of season to see who over all goes into the chamption league

  • Comment number 77.

    Like a previous poster, I hope Thompson's "idea" is just a way to get the debate going full force and kills off the 10 team SPL idea.

  • Comment number 78.

    why doesn't the s p l and the rest of the teams put the old firm in their place. They will leave scotland the first chance they get anyway.
    this so called reconstruction is as much of a farce as scottish football now, talk talk talk and more talk and at the end of the day the paying customer and that would be the fans not the mighty sky are forgotten about.
    the bottom line is always about money so they say, well people are starting to realise that paying £20 to £25 to watch s p l football is a con, one big con.
    there is no confidence in the league, in scottish football or in the stands.
    could someone with a football brain that person maybe even a football fan please stand up and just say this is whats happening and get on with it, would that be too much to ask, ops this is scotland, that will never happen.

  • Comment number 79.

    I would suggest we do what every other country in the Universe does and has a top league of either 16,18 or 20 teams with each team playing the rest home and away. We should stop thinking that for some reason Scotland is special and we should do things differently. We should stop pretending that Scotlands clubs finacial set-up is different to all the other countires in the Universe and that a 16,18 or 20 team league would somehow be 'unsustainable' in Scotland. We should accept the fact that until a 16,18 or 20 team top league is introduced interest in Scottish football will continue to drop alarmingly. We should realise that tiny leagues with silly splits and playoffs make us a laughing stock. We have to understand that by having a bigger league the standard of football simply can't get any worse than it already is.

    If we don't do any of this then I suggest that Scottish football should be wound up and we can all get on doing something else instead (if we aren't already, whcih most of us are).

  • Comment number 80.

    I have the answer to keep all parties happy (well reasonably happy). A 16 team league, each side plays the other 15 home and away = 30 games. The league then splits into four fours based on league position and you play the other three teams home and away = 6 matches, 36 in all. The bottom team is relegated and the second from bottom team plays the second team in the division below in a 2 legged play off for promotion/relegation.

    This would be succesful (and keep all happy) for the following reasons -
    1. Rangers and Celtic would still play four times a season. Their fans, the sponsors and TV would be happy.
    2. Supporters would get to see 15 other teams in a season and would only see three teams visit the ground more than once (Cup draws aside).
    3. There would be excitement in the top four split as the title and Euro spots are decided.
    4. There would be excitement in the bottom four split as the relegation and play off spot is decided.
    5. The 5th-8th split would see a race to 5th and the final European spot.
    6. The 9th-12th split would allow teams to blood youngsters and experiment with formations ahead of the new season.
    7. The league would not be so large as to dilute the quality and the money available to the clubs.
    8. There would be more local derbies and more clubs able to play with freedom of threat of relegation while not having such a big league that there would be lots of meaningless matches.

  • Comment number 81.

    The whole 'expand the league' argument is completely irrelevant as it simply is not viable. As an Inverness fan I would love to see an 18 team league or something similar where everyone plays each other home and away. This would freshen things up and make the league more competitive. However, unfortunately MONEY is what matters and our league is hamstrung by the wishes of the sponsors and broadcasters. I believe that they would not invest in a league without the 4 Old Firm Derbies and the 4 Edinburgh Derbies. This is the bottom line and we need to accept it and support and try to improve the ideas that have been surfacing of late. A 2-tier set up with 2 leagues of 10 may leave us with 20 strong healthy clubs, which is definately an improvement on the status quo.

  • Comment number 82.

    Play-offs for the title is a ludicrous idea. Yes, you would have a handful of exciting games at the end of the season and a shedload of mostly meaningless games before it! Eight months of largely going through the motions followed by a couple of weeks of meaningful games, that's really going to spice up the Scottish game!

    Also, there's enough controversy regarding officialdom as it is, can you imagine a title being won on a single bad decision?

  • Comment number 83.


    the solution to this is very simple. Change the Scottish League Cup into an American football-style conference format with playoffs and play it as a separate contest after (or before) the SPL leagues. Let's face it, we need to revive the CIS cup too.

    Here's how it works:
    16 team SPL, everyone plays each other twice. (30 games)
    14 team SPL 2, ditto. (26 games)

    1 up and 1 down automatically and the playoffs for the other SPL 1 spot against the seoond bottom side of SPL 1.

    Ditto at the bottom of SPL 2 to the regional leagues?

    The League Cup
    Where you are placed in the League Cup depends on where you finished in the League. Both the SPL 1 & 2 teams compete. That means no game is meaningless as it affects which team you will face in the League Cup.

    The cup contest is split into six conferences of five teams.
    Conference A - 1st place in the league (i.e. Rangers or Celtic) plus four other teams from SPL 1 & 2. (8 games)
    Conference B - 2nd place etc.

    Every team in the conference plays home and away. You are placed according to Wins, Losses and Draws and a tie-breaking code.

    In the end the six conference winners plus six teams who did not win a conference but have the best records (i.e. wildcards) go into sudden-death playoffs.

    Whoever was in first place and in second place in the league are kept in separate sides of the draw (i.e. probably Rangers and Celtic)
    i.e Conference A plays against teams from Conference C and E
    Conference B plays against teams from Conference D and F.

    We makes a big deal out of winning a conference - lets hand out some silverware.

    The playoffs.
    The top four conference winners with the best records get a bye into the second round of the playoffs i.e. the quarter finals and have home field advantage. Since these are sudden death games, the gate money is split evenly.

    The remaining two conference winners and the six wild cards play play in round one of the playoffs. (Strongest record plays weakest record etc) The four winners from those games play in the second round against those teams with a bye into the second. The winners play the semis and then on to the final.

    The advantage is that the money from old firm matches gets spread around the SPL 1 & 2. Those who were in a conference with the old firm get an obvious bonus of playing them, but those who are not in a conference with them get their chance in the playoffs and make more money out TV rights etc.

    Everyone gets the 16 team league they want. The money men may be happy with this too. We avoid the awful 10 team SPL 1. Rangers and Celtic should be happy with this.

    A new league cup like that also gives every team something to play for, no matter how dreadful a teams league season was. We have a 16 team league with oinly 30 games, but we know that makes it more competitive and avoids the games without meaning trap as much as possible.

    It also amswers the number of games questions. All SPL 1 teams would have at least 30 + 8 = 38 games. Probably more.

    All SPL 2 Teams at least 34 games, but they also get cash from playing bigger sides to make up for less games.

    The Scottish Cup.
    Sudden death - played to the death and with penalty shootouts. No replays! All SPL teams plus all the regional league teams take part.


  • Comment number 84.

    I don't think there's ever been such a vexed football issue in this country as league reconstruction. That's not just for the present. I'm going all the way back to the 70's and beyond. Since 1890 we've changed our league set-up at least 15 times. Unfortunately, I don't think any of those changes were brought about through consultation with the most important group amongst Scottish football's interested parties, the paying customers, i.e. the fans.

    The Americans are great with things like this. They too have tinkered with their sports league arrangements right from the start, almost as much as we have. Unlike us though, American sports authorities regard their fans as customers and as we all know, the customer is king. However, even if they are regarded as royalty American fans don't ask the earth, all they want is meaningful sports events. More precisely, they want competition. If they don't get it, they don't attend and when they don't attend the sport loses money. Naturally, when that starts happening the sports authorities will intervene to attempt to restore a more competitive balance. For example, if the New York Yankees start to over-dominate in baseball then baseball people will start to ask questions on how to make it harder for them to win the following season, i.e. to give them a reduced college draft pick, to make them pay a higher 'luxury' tax or to make them pay more in 'salary' tax and so on. And the Yankees will agree with this. They will agree because they know that the sport will only thrive if it can present a meaningful, competitive product. New York knows that its success is not just measured in how many tickets it sells. It's based also on how many tickets Boston sells, and how many Baltimore sells and Tampa Bay and so on. Taking their example then and applying the concept here we can reasonably say that the most successful league would be the most competitive league, where the final outcome is in doubt from the beginning and and for the longest period thereafter.

    How to apply the above concept on a practical basis in this country? Unless you go down the road of a 2 division national top league, one for teams in the East and one for clubs in the West and an East v West home and away play-off for the league championship, then its just about impossible. Competition only works when you have like-sized and comparable competitiors. The Old Firm are just too big. They make any division that they are a part of lop-sided. Hence the East - West suggestion above. It's the only way to minimise their near-overwhelming effect. The problem is that while clubs in the East division may begin to benefit through greater attendances due to more competiton, our clubs in the West division would likely continue to diminish as their position would effectively be unchanged from the present.

    The situation really needs not radical but revolutinary thinking. Thing's like loaded fixtures and weighted results i.e. Hearts to get 5 points for beating Hibs but Rangers to only get say, 3 points. Or The Old Firm to play each other 4 times but everybody else to play them only twice. Naturally, there is no way anything like that will happen. Not a chance. Of course, the simplest solution would be for the Old Firm to join the English Premiership. Problem solved! A reasonable competitive balance achieved at a stroke.............? 'Fraid not. I think that's even more unlikely than the loaded fixture list and weighted results.

    Why do I have the feeling that this will still be getting discussed in 2110?

  • Comment number 85.

    League set ups have been discussed over and over again, for those that want the bigger leagues , we had them pre SPL and guess what they didnt work, why ?? because there were too many meaningless games at the end of the season that nobody could be bothered watching. At least the SPL kept interest going and in the 10 team format both Aberedeen and DundeeUtd won the league and constantly split the old firm.

    We need to understand what the real problem is here,and in many ways its not got a lot to do with us in Scotland. I believe that Tv is the problem especially sky TV. I believe we now have greater choices than ever before and we dont have to put up with the garbage that is on offer in the SPL and if we want to watch good football we have endless hours of EPL , Spanish , German and Italian football.

    The honest truth is I can choose to waste money watching the biggest lot of garbage ie a game between Dundee Utd and lets say Motherwell ( nothing against theses 2 teams first names that came into my head ) and pay approx £20.00 for the privelage of watching this dross or I can watch really good entertaining games with great skill etc etc on Sky TV for a fraction of that price.

    The real problem with Scottish football is whats on offer is 2nd rate and people just cant put up with it anymore, we are paying the full price for not changing everything radically at the bottom of the game, we have ignored technique and skill for far too long , whilst everyone in the entire rest of the World understood where football was going we ignored it and continued on our way of producing big thugs who are good at ankle biting but useless at actually playing the game.

    We need to look at Barcelona and ask ourselves why they can produce great talent by themselves almost on a conveyor belt and why we cant even get within 1% of that. I refuse to believe that we have no talent in this country its the way we teach them how to play the game.

    If we need radical thinking then we need to start that at the bottom of the game starting with the 8/9 years olds and have stratagy that follows right up to 18/19 years old that concentrates on technique and ability.

    What will bring back people to the game are a multitude of players like Davie Cooper or Jimmy Johnstone , what will keep people away is a multitude of Zander Diamonds ( again nothing against the guy first name that came in to my head ).

    Finding new ways to bring new league winners by default will do nothing for the game except ridicule and embarrasment in Europe, play offs for Europa cup places I think would work but thats it.

    As for league set ups just now the 2 leagues of 10 are about the best we can have, I say that not because its Ideal but because we are a small nation with a small cake and there are way way too many people trying too get a slice of the cake, we have no means of making the cake any bigger so we have too cut the numbers feeding at it too survvive its common sense. In Business you dont continually throw money at the loss making parts for no good reason at the expense of the parts that are working you rationalise and you get rid of the dead wood then you concentratew on the bits that work and make them better. Scottish football has got to the point where we neeed to get rid of the dead wood, come up with an interem plan ( 2 x 10 leagues) then work on how we can improve standards in the game, it is not league set ups that is killing the game its the standard of garbage that we are forced to watch.

  • Comment number 86.

    Playoffs? Why on earth would we need Playoffs? As a mere example, if the Old Firm finished in the Top 2 spots, as usual, and 2nd finished the usual 10+ points in front of 3rd, who somehow go on to win the "Playoff", would that honestly make them deserved Champions? No . . .

    A Champion is decided by the Regular Season Games (Currently the 38 League Games) why would we need an EXTRA 3 games to decide who's the best out of the Top 4? If Celtic finish top, they're the best, likewise if Rangers finished Top, or any other team for that matter. As I Celtic fan, even if we finished 3rd, we don't deserve another shot at it, we're 3rd for a reason . . . No need for Playoffs.

    What we do need is either a 16 or 18 Team League, play each team twice (30 or 34 Games depending on Number of teams) and either 2 up, 2 down, or 1 up, 1 down and the Playoff System from the SFL (2nd bottom of Higher League & 2nd-4th of Lower League) 30, or 34, games would also give them a chance to re-introduce the Winter Break, which seems inevitable and IMO would make an more open League, maybe barring the Top 4-6 teams (funnily enough, JUST LIKE the EPL, where there's an obvious monopoly, as always, down to finances).

    Celtic, Rangers, Dundee Utd, Hibs, Hearts to be a regular "Top 5" team, with a surprise team each Season pushing them (this Season it appears to be Inverness, who are playing extremely well! Kudos Caley!)

    It's about time the SPL, SFA & SFL took note of what we, the football fans, want from OUR League. We support the teams, we shell out for tickets & merchandise, yet we're forced to watch a structure that simply doesn't work. Reducing to 10 teams again would IMO make it worse, it worked before, but I can't see it being popular again. It appears alot of fans are agreeable in an extended League, which might even stop the rumours of the OF moving to England (which i'd love, but doubt will happen)

    I know some people may disagree with my thinking, but I really can't face the 10-team League, or this Split nonsense any longer, ludicrous stuff . . .

  • Comment number 87.

    the idea of a play off for the title is stupid. just to change sports for a moment, im a fan of rugby union side leicester tigers. around a decade ago we were walking the league by miles, we wouldnt of got caught whatever happened. so the rfu decided around march time, around 3/4s of the way into the season to bring in play offs for the title that season. we lost in the final even though we had won the division with 4 games left. like my grandad said to me at the time 'they have done it to spite us, if you have come top then you should win the title, end of'. i have to agree, those who watch rugby will see teams are happy to come 3rd because they can still win the league and they rest players towards the end of the season so they are fit for the play offs.
    anyway i feel maybe a league of 18 would maybe the right way to go, giving a season of 34 games and then relegation/promotion play offs. 2 teams can go down automatically with then the team in 16th and 3 teams from spl2 in the play offs.
    i just want to know what will happen to the teams that are not in spl1 or 2??? there needs to be a conclusion that helps all teams, not just the big boys

  • Comment number 88.

    Would introducing extra points for larger wins not have a more detrimental effect on the game, when FIFA introduced the golden goal instead of teams going for it it was the opposite.

    Is it not also the case a lot of the clubs are going for the fittest, strongest player rather than the most skilful player because of the fear of losing.

    If a larger league setup was introduced maybe the emphasis can be brought back to skill and going for the win rather than going out to try and not lose.

  • Comment number 89.

    74 Bill Cuthbert.

    Bill, you make a lot of good points and I agree with you on wondering who we are trying to attract to the game. TV money is important but if there are few fans in the ground it becomes a vicious circle......few fans poor atmosphere on tv....fewer fans turn up....even poorer atmosphere on tv.

    One key element that will have to be addressed aside from lack of quality, technique, excitement and suchlike, is how do we ensure a greater chance of someone outside the Old Firm winning the SPL.

    We've heard a lot about sporting integrity but where is the integrity in sport when two clubs have such enormous resources compared to the rest.

    The game is suffering now with such absolute dominance, if we cannot change that or at least offer hope of some serious competition then the future is bleak.

    One thing is for sure with all of your responses, the idea of a play off for the top clubs seems to be non starter.....but it never was anything other than an attempt I suspect to shine a light on the lack of competition in the SPL.

    And that lack of competition for winning the title is the greatest threat to the long term viabilty of the game for the kind of reasons most of you have mentioned.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think the playoff at the top end is a bad idea. OK maybe it works of a fashion in rugby but I think they have far fewer games.

    For me the 16 team playing each other twice is the better option. If that means reduced incomes because of dropping 3or4 home game then so be it. The reduced income and less thereat of relegation I feel would help bring through younger players. Its then up to coaches to get their teams to actually play decent football with technical ability rather than physical.

    If 4 old firms game is a must why can't they have another 2 outside of the league ? Perhaps a home and away style cup (maybe marking the Ibrox disaster or something else more appropriate) which they could flog to TV and donate some of the gate to a Glasgow kids charity.. just a thought

  • Comment number 91.

    The proposed system - two SPLs of 10 each, 1 up and down automatically and play-offs is good start, as is regionalisation and a proper pyramid. BUT, as is quite clear here, fans want variety in who they face. So, why not the following:

    - SPL 1 and SPL 2 of 10 teams each.

    - Season split into two championships in both divisions, 'Winter' and 'Spring', with two champions and 2 up-2 down BETWEEN the championships. The second promotion spot in SPL2 could still be decided via play-off, possible 3rd v 4th with winners playing 2nd at Hampden/Ibrox/Celtic Park.

    - Relegation from SPL2 is only at the end of the entire season and judge by an aggregate table, again 2up-2down.

    - Scottish League Cup replaced by SPL Cup with a group stage, quarters, semis and final.

  • Comment number 92.

    Never commented on a blog before.... but i tried suggesting this in a debate elsewhere, so will try it here!

    Some other poster said how in Argentina (i think he said) they have two championships per season!
    At the time i thought " well THAT is just plain dumb!" ... but reading other suggestions and in the fear that we are going to get a two-tiered SPL.... then maybe just maybe it could be the very thing!

    Here are some reasons for adopting this:
    1st despite my being against it... this (barring something cataclysmic) guarantees 4 OF games per season....
    2nd it brings different teams into the running
    3rd it means there would be far less meaningless games.

    And here are my suggestions to make it so:
    After the first season finishes the bottom two teams would go down and the top two of the SPL2 would go up.
    ....the new season starts afresh.
    At the end of the 2nd season the two who were relegated into the SPL2 would be immune and the two promoted out would also be immune, but for the rest you total all the points won over the two seasons to work out relegation ... perhaps just 1 automatic down and up and then a play-off for another spot [- needs work]

    In terms of overall winning the SPL (assuming there are two different winners for the two championships)then there would be a play-off between the two... so maybe a fifth OF Game!?!
    For UEFA places it would go to points accumulated over the two seasons in the top tier, so even if one of the promoted teams did brilliantly they would be highly unlikely to get a European place - thru league position at least ... in the result of any ties here perhaps more play-offs?
    At the end of the second championship to decide relegation in and out of the SPL 1 & 2 it would be a straight 1 up 1 down.
    What do you think Jim?

  • Comment number 93.

    Play offs to decide the SPL winners is a ludicrous idea especially when you consider the struggle to retain an automatic Champions League spot. What could a 4th placed team who finished up to 20 points behind the old firm do to our Euro co-efficient? Disastrous.

    We want our best competing in the Champions league not someone who fluked a title over a couple of games.

  • Comment number 94.

    What about a south American style autumn/spring championships? The rest of the teams have more chance competing over half a season before injuries/suspensions kick in. The winner of each half season could then meet in a playoff at the end of the season. Similar thing could happen at the bottom.

  • Comment number 95.

    Ok , I have had a right good think about this and yes, the fans want a change and we need a change, but its not all about change at the top, the whole thing needs revamped, the end of the day the smaller clubs in Scotland have to survive also. They need competition and fans through the gate also to survive.

    I will like to see

    18 PL - home and away - 3 relegated - Sponsorhip and TV money more evenly split based on final position( ie, not 70% to top 2 and 30% amongst everyone else)
    2 x 12 regionalied leagues winners promoted/2nd and 3rd in each division in a playoff for other promotion place - play each other 3 times and then the split ( like the current SPL format) top 6 playing for championship and play off places and the bottom six going in to the Challenge cup, where it would be 4 groups of 3, winners going through to semi and then final - This way I think everyone has something to play for most of the season and will draw in more fans if there is some excitement.

    The regionalied leagues is not just about the clubs, which they have come out recently as not agreeing with it, they need to look at the advantages of playing teams closer to themselves with the potential of more fans going to see local derbies or teams with less travelling for the fans ( boosting crowds, in which is what the ultimate goal is)

    The League Cup could be changed also _

    1st round of 36 games (top six from pl last season getting bye and further 12 pl teams being seeded)
    2nd round 8 groups of 3 ( top six being seeded )

    What you think ? Rubbish idea ? non starter ? dont give up the day job ? or all of the above ?

  • Comment number 96.

    I feel that one of the main problems is that the league doesn't offer much excitement. Rangers or Celtic win the league every season and after the split we end up with meaningless fixtures.

    To have a successful product, we need quality players but we also need a league system that from start to finish offers excitement and interest. Not a league that's over with about 6 or 7 games left. By the time the season comes to a close, we have 1st and 2nd battling it out and maybe 10th to 12th place fighting relegation but inbetween this we have drab meaningless fixtures. I have been thinking of a way that keeps the season interesting from start to finish. The idea may seem obscure on the outset but i believe it has many benefits and it also includes play-offs (Ooooh, controversial i hear you all say). What i propose is :

    - The SPL would have 14 teams split into 2 "Conferences" of 7. These don't have to be regionalised in anyway but may need to be seeded so that both sides are equal.

    - Each team would play each other twice including cross conference similar to the MLS. If Motherwell were in Conference 1 and Hibs in Conference 2, they would still play each other twice. This set up would mean each team would play 26 games.

    After 26 games :

    - The top 4 from each conference go into a knock out. The knock out would be set up something like Conference 1 Winners v Conference 2 4th Place, Conference 1 2nd Place v Conference 2 3rd place and so on. Each game would be played over 2 legs.

    - The winner of the knockout wins the SPL and earns the Champions League spot assuming it's 1 CL spot and 3 Europa League spots. The runner up would get the first Europa League Spot. The Losers of the Knockout semi final would playoff over 2 legs to see who gets the better seeding for the other 2 europa league spots.

    - Relegation would involve all the teams that finish in the bottom 3 of each Conference. My preference would be that the 1st division would have 16 teams at this point playing each other twice (30 games) in the familiar league format.

    - Conference 1 6th place would play Conference 2 7th place and Conference 1 7th place would play Conference 2 6th place over 2 legs. The losers of these 2 games would be automatically relegated to division 1. The teams that won these games would then play off against the teams who finished 5th in the league with the winners avoiding relegation. The losers of these games would play off against the 3rd and 4th placed teams in the 1st division. The winners of these games would stay or be promoted to the SPL depending what division they were in. In this scenario it would always be an SPL team v a Division 1 team but you still have the possibility of 4 teams being relegated/promoted.

    I know many of you will be perplexed by this suggestion but what i think it offers is a competitive competition all season round. Every game has something to play for. Teams will strive to be in the top 4, teams will try and edge away from the bottom 3. It also adds some interest to the 1st division aswell. With 2 automatic promotion places and 2 play off spots, teams will be using the top 4 spots as their goal for the season. I would have 2 automatic relegation and 2 playoff spots in the 1st division aswell. Under this i would regionalise the setup by emalgamating the rest of the SFL teams with the highland and junior set up.

    The only major downfall that i see is that the amount of games is decreased however i would supplement this by restructuring the League Cup and changing it to a group stage scenario but play all the group games before the league season starts as this the time when people are most hyped up about the new players their team has signed and may be more willing to attend these games and it also creates revenue for the lesser teams in the divisions below.

    Comparing the Scottish league set up with most other leagues in Europe, we are one of the few leagues to have a pyramid set up. With the possibility of more promotion/relegation spots and a higher turnaround in teams, perhaps teams that have been sitting tight for many years will emerge and play their way up the leagues. It takes away the staleness and adds a bit of excitement for teams such as the juniors who may have an opportunity to shine.

    As i said before, this idea may seem a little obscure but every match would count, play offs would generate TV money and would entice the fans to go to the games increasing the match day revenue. I don't think you'll get more radical than this.

  • Comment number 97.

    scottish football is dead.

    football is all about money and the spl has none of it, and what is going around is going straight to the old firm.

    plus our game is riddled with religious nonsense and hatred and not just in the old firm.

    which is ironic because 90% of this country wont have any true religious beliefs at all.

    the only way to save the game is to disband EVERY club in scotland and set up a series of strong franchise clubs where the money that iS available is spread around. and rules placed on it, that so much of it has go to youth facilities and development.

    thats the only way to save scottish football, but it will never happen because whilst we complain that our game stinks, the truth is we are too scared to do anything real to fix it, we like our wee mediocre game and the identities we have formed to our clubs over the years.

  • Comment number 98.


    I was tempted to jump in earlier but like Bill Cuthbert said “here we go again” and in response to negative comments about Henry McLeish and his report, he also said what I have been saying for year now and that is – you can have as much league reconstruction as you like, at the end of the day you have to have people coming in through the turnstiles.

    It is that simple fact that seems to be last on the thoughts of those in charge and whilst I agree with Bill’s comments on how to raise revenue by other means, these measures have to be sold to local communities and if they can’t sell football how are going to sell anything else?

    I’m not in favour of league reconstruction unless it considers the game foremost and was reluctant to get involved.

    That said, you can’t help getting dragged in and one obvious omission from Henry’s report is a 16 team top league.

    So there’s a detailed proposal for anyone that is interested at

    Scottish football couldn’t support 20 full time clubs in the days when it was more popular and costs were much lower in relative terms and I don’t see why a 16 team league wasn’t considered.

    Like suggestions by others on this blog I don’t see how you can even begin to look at leagues without doing something with the cups as well.

  • Comment number 99.

    #89 Yet again your bias is showing Jim.
    The OF have always had much greater resources that any other clubs yet in years gone by some of them actually won the league but not by trying to rig the system.

    Part of the answer is, as I've repeatedly posted, for "fans" of clubs like Dundee Utd. to actually attend games and thus put money into "their" club, not to try and wrest if of the OF.

    Hopefully play offs have been consigned to bin where they belong for league winning but we still need something like a fans' poll(season ticket holders?) to vote on the proposals.

  • Comment number 100. doubt you'll see bias whatever I write but according to attendance figures in Roddy Forsyth's "The only game" in season 1964/65 Dundee FC were watched by 204.469 fans in the league that season. Celtic by 310.829. No one doubts that the Old Firm have traditionally had bigger supports than the other clubs, but it was never nearly as pronounced as it is today.

    Hearts that same season had 271.584 through their gates while Hibs had 235.037. Rangers were the best supported that season with 494.511.

    So give or take Rangers were bigger by a factor of roughly two to one than the Edinburgh duo.......and Celtic by a factor of one and a half to one than Dundee FC.

    In recent times the Old Firm have been outgunning the Edinburgh duo by around three or four to one in attendances and by a factor of maybe six to one in turnover.

    So their resources have become much greater.

    It would be interesting to hear your views on why this has happened and whether you think fans of other clubs should be happy to watch the Old Firm win the SPL in perpetuity, or whether you think those clubs should try to change the set up to give themselves a more even chance of success.


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