Football Expert & Columnist
Plans to change structure of Scottish leagues are too complex and confusing, says Andy Walker
Andy Walker says the proposed changes to the Scottish leagues are too complex and confusing.
Last Updated: 07/01/13 1:18pm
With the SPL in a two-week break, all the talk centres on how the game can make a positive step forward and after much discussion between all interested parties, a format of two top leagues of 12, which split into three leagues of eight after 22 games, is on the cards.
It seems to me that if there's a way of making an easy game of football much more complex, we'll find it.
SFL chief executive David Longmuir has described the on-going talks on league reconstruction as being very positive. Following the collapse of Rangers in the summer and a rulebook that had no provision to deal with such a scenario, their eventual placement in the bottom tier of Scottish football resulted in relationships between SPL & SFL clubs being extremely fragile.
Initially, the SFL wanted a top league of 16 with a league of 10 and another league of 16 below that. A fairer distribution of wealth was their driving force with play-offs also top of their agenda.
But apart from Rangers, the biggest and most powerful clubs are obviously in the SPL and their chief executive Neil Doncaster immediately described the idea of a top league of 16 as "unworkable".
This new proposal of 12-12-18 is gathering favour and here's how it would work.
The top two divisions would split after two rounds of fixtures, 22 games, with teams meeting home and away. The top eight then play a further round of fixtures home and away giving a total of 36 games. These teams would be playing for the title and European places.
The bottom four of the initial 12 would play against the top four of the lower division of 12 and these eight clubs would also play another round of games home and away with the top four staying in the initial 12 for the following season and the bottom four being relegated.
The bottom eight in the lower 12 would also play off against one another for relegation places.
Confused? I'm not surprised.
Switzerland and Austria tried the same experiment in their top division for seven years before going back to a 12-10 set up.
All of this of course has been on the back of a recent report from the SFA by former First Minister Henry McLeish who took a year to examine in detail the set-up, finances and best way forward for our game in the immediate to short term.
The SFA are an easy target for criticism but in giving him a free reign to say exactly what he thought, the former East Fife player didn't hold back.
With no hidden agenda and no allegiance to any side, McLeish proposed going back to a top league of 10, playing each other home and away twice for a total of 36 games with one relegation place as well as the second bottom being involved in promotion/relegation play-offs.
He also suggested every club should be under one body, something almost everyone agrees with. Having an SFA, SPL and SFL means self-interest is the driving force in every league.
But surely we can come up with something better than two top leagues of 12 splitting into three groups of eight?