SPL clubs agree league reform package for next season

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Interview - SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster

Scottish Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed on a package of measures that would deliver a merged league body in time for next season.

The single governing organisation would oversee the 12-10-10-10 divisional structure that is presently in place.

But there would be greater financial redistribution to the second tier.

The SPL also wants to introduce play-offs involving the team finishing 11th and teams second, third and fourth in the league below.

The proposals include a "pyramid for the entire game", which would allow access to the senior ranks to clubs currently operating outside the top 42.

A statement from the top flight clubs says: "The SPL looks forward to working with the Scottish FA and Scottish Football League [SFL] to deliver vibrant change for the game as a whole."

SPL chairman Ralph Topping said: "I am pleased that SPL clubs have today agreed on a way forward for the game in this country.

"We have tremendous sympathy with the SFL1 clubs and their plight and with their shared ambition for a 42-club solution.

"Much work needs to be done in a short space of time to achieve our objective of a single merged league this summer. But, where there is a will, there is a way. The time for action is now."

Season 2013/14 in Scotland's top flight is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, 3 August.

SPL clubs will gather again this month to formally vote on the matter.

The 30 clubs in the SFL's three divisions would then need to approve the plans.

On leaving the SPL gathering at Hampden, chief executive of relegated Dundee, Scott Gardiner, said: "Hopefully, Scottish football is on a pathway to sort out the shambles it has become.

"Hopefully, the new structure will be in place for next season. The new all-through financial distribution model is key to getting the agreement of all 42 clubs."

Ross County and St Mirren last month vetoed a similar plan for a 12-12-18 divisional set-up.

Those clubs were unconvinced by the merits of a system to split the top two divisions into three after 22 games but this element has been removed.

Following the breakdown of the SPL vote, which requires an 11-1 majority for major change, 10 clubs indicated a willingness to break away from the SFL, asking the SPL to consider forming a new second tier.