SPL fails to vote through 12-12-18 reconstruction plan

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Interview - Aberdeen chairman Stuart Milne

The Scottish Premier League has failed to achieve the 11-1 majority required to agree a new league format.

Ross County and St Mirren voted against the proposal at Hampden on Monday when the clubs considered a new 12-12-18 model for Scottish football.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne has accused the two clubs of "putting Scottish football in jeopardy".

Clubs in favour had proposed altering the required majority for changes in league structure from 11-1 to 9-3.

But that was rejected by the two clubs as well as the main proposal, which would have scrapped the current 12-10-10-10 make-up for the start of next season.

A positive vote from the SPL clubs was required if the proposal was then to progress to a vote of the 30 Scottish Football League clubs on Friday.

In addition to the new league structure, the plan envisaged one league body to replace the SPL and SFL, the top two leagues splitting into three divisions of eight midway through the season and a redistribution of wealth to lower-league clubs.

County chairman Roy MacGregor told BBC Scotland that, while disappointed a solution could not be found, he had gone with the desire of his shareholders and fans to vote against the proposal.

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour, who refused to comment as he stormed out following the vote, had arrived at Hampden saying that he hoped for further compromise.

Aberdeen's chairman was angry that his counterpart from the Paisley club had not been willing to accept the change in voting structure in exchange for passing the full proposal.

"I'm not surprised he was angry," said Milne. "Everyone else was angry at the attitude he adopted.

"We've got the SPL as an organisation to have an interest in and we also have the wider Scottish football to have an interest in.

"None of that was displayed by Stewart Gilmour and St Mirren today.

"There was a major concession on the table today and if it didn't deliver then the opportunity was there to look at it down the line within two to three years.

St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour
Gilmour spoke to the media before the meeting but did not comment as he made an angry exit

"This is going to have major implications for Scottish football in the short term and could potentially damage the game in the long term.

"I am very angry because today we have let down Scottish football and one person in particular."

A statement on behalf of the SPL board expressed its "deep disappointment" that three years of "tireless work" had been "blocked".

Chairman Ralph Topping, who had previously announced that he was stepping down, said: "I would like to thank those who have supported these proposals, including those full-time professional clubs outside of the SPL, who find themselves let down by today's vote."

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster insists that he will not be resigning his own post but said he felt most sorry for Division One clubs who are in a precarious financial position and would have benefited from a redistribution of income.

However, he said that the current television deals would not be affected by the decision.

"There's a real sense of disappointment because these proposals would have delivered so many of the things that supporters say they want; a merged league; a better distribution of money down the leagues, a pyramid structure - they've now been lost," said Doncaster.

"The clubs have been very clear over recent weeks that a 16-team league is not financially affordable. Whilst it may be what a number of people say they want, the clubs who have to vote on these changes have made it clear that they can't afford that change."

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Interview - SFA chief Neil Doncaster

Hearts chief executive David Southern accused St Mirren of not being frank in public over their reasons for opposing the plan.

"I think it's been shown today that the 11-1 vote was just used as a smokescreen to protect other people's interests," he said.

"We go back to a 12-team SPL, one team relegated, one team up from the SFL and it's business as usual but with an even tougher economic climate for clubs.

"I don't now see where we will go. I think maybe now the onus is on the Scottish FA to become actively involved to try and steer the game to better waters."

The SFL said that, in light of the SPL vote, its own special general meeting would not be required but insisted that the opportunity for restructuring remained.

"We believe that positive change for the good of the game can still be achieved, but this will require compromise and a more flexible approach to some key issues," said a league statement.

"If all parties agree to this approach and some realistic time frames can be agreed then the current momentum for positive change need not be lost."

Both Celtic and Dundee United issued statements describing the vote as a massive opportunity missed for Scottish football.

Meanwhile, Rangers praised the Buddies and County for reflecting the wishes of their fans and the Third Division champions hope that their own proposal for three leagues of 14 might now be considered.