SPFL: Clubs to vote on lower leagues; Premiership decision on hold

Dundee United celebrate
Dundee United would be handed the Championship title if the vote is carried

SPFL clubs will vote this week on whether the Championship, League One and League Two seasons should be ended - but a decision over the outcome of the Premiership has been delayed.

For now, the Scottish top flight will remain postponed "to give the best possible opportunity" for it to finish.

But it would also be decided on points won per match "if the SPFL board determines" the games cannot be played.

No decision will be taken until after Uefa's executive meeting on 23 April.

For the resolution to pass, nine Premiership clubs, eight Championship, and 15 in Leagues One and Two combined need to vote in favour, with Friday 17:00 BST the deadline.

The result is expected to be announced early next week and, should the clubs vote to accept the proposals, Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers would be promoted from their respective divisions, with Partick Thistle and Stranraer relegated.

All play-offs would be cancelled, meaning the pyramid play-off involving the Highland League and Lowland League champions would be scrapped.

However, the SPFL says that, should the plans be approved, they commit to consulting with clubs in April and May about reconfiguring the leagues for next season.

'We are keen to work with Uefa'

Last week, Uefa cautioned that declaring campaigns early could mean countries would not be able to take up places in European competitions.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said that the position regarding the top flight "remains particularly complicated".

Leaders Celtic are 13 points ahead of Rangers at the top having played a game more, while Hearts are four adrift at the bottom, with most teams having eight games still to play.

"Everyone is aware of Uefa's desire for the family of European football to work together to resolve the issues that confront us all," Doncaster said.

"We are keen to work with Uefa and remain in discussion with them over the situation in Scotland."

Doncaster said the SPFL board had "consulted extensively with clubs in all four divisions" and had "taken expert legal and commercial advice".

Scottish Government advice that restrictions could remain for at least 13 weeks mean the outstanding games "cannot be scheduled without significantly damaging" the chances of playing next season in full.

"The quicker we reach a final position the better, but there is no doubt this is the most complicated and challenging situation our game has faced in living memory," Doncaster said.

"Now is the right time to act. We all know there are no easy answers or simple solutions, but the board's recommended proposal will give us a far greater degree of certainty, minimise the harm to the game overall."

Doncaster confirmed that approving the plans would mean end-of-season payments could be made to lower league clubs, something that would alleviate "significant further financial harm".

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'You wouldn't award Usain Bolt the gold medal after 75m'

'Some skin and hair will fly' - analysis

BBC Scotland chief sportswriter Tom English

The time for talking is almost at an end. The moment for clubs to make up their minds about how they see the future is now at hand. With a deadline of Friday at 17:00 being set for the return of voting slips from all 42 senior clubs, we will soon have clarity on what's going on with the Championship, League One and League Two.

Some skin and hair will fly, but those leagues will be called in short order. That's the direction of travel. The unlocking of end-of-season payments to cash-strapped clubs will be the determining factor.

Where the three lower leagues will go, the Premiership will surely follow. The SPFL have given themselves some breathing space on the calling of the to flight but, once more, the mood among the majority is to call it.

There's some chat to be had with Uefa about this. Hence, the stalling by the SPFL. Clubs will want a guarantee from the governing body that the calling of the Premiership will not remove them from European competitions next season.

The way it's looking, this season is done. Celtic will be champions, Hearts will be relegated. Promotion and demotion will be settled on the tables as they exist right now. But that's only phase one.

Phase two will be an immediate conversation about league reconstruction in time for next season. There's a long way to go before we get to the endgame in all of this

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