SPL reconstruction vote to take place in May

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster
Doncaster favours a smaller Scottish Premier League of 10 teams

A vote on Scottish Premier League reconstruction should finally take place in mid May.

Representatives of all 12 SPL clubs met at Hampden on Monday to discuss proposals for a 10-team league.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne told BBC Scotland progress was made at the meeting and a final vote should be taken by the middle of May.

But clubs in favour have failed to gain the necessary backing, meaning any motion would fail.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "Clubs can still vote if they want, but we need 11 votes to take it forward."

BBC Scotland has learned that the lobbying for change will continue with another ballot pencilled in for the summer.

"Ultimately, 18 April is for the clubs to tell us what they are looking for," added Doncaster, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme.

"If clubs don't want our proposals, that's the time for them to put forward alternative plans and new ideas if that's what people want.

"I think there's a real desire for change - a real need for change - and it's up to the clubs what that change looks like.

"The plans will be on the table on the 18th and what we do with the proposals is entirely up to the clubs to decide.

"The clubs have the power. We can only put together a plan."

The SPL has been pushing a proposal that would see the league reduced from 12 teams to 10.

There was broad support for the switch at a meeting at Hampden Park in February, but 11 of the clubs would need to vote in favour in order for the changes to be implemented.

Doncaster has also published a strategic plan for Scottish football on his blog that will be tabled at the next general meeting of all 12 SPL clubs, on 18 April.

The 100-page document targets key areas for the development of Scottish football, proposing the creation of a league that puts fans first and addresses Scotland's declining Uefa and Fifa coefficients.

It also proposes to maximise Scottish football's income and address the financial gap between the bottom of the SPL and the top of the Scottish Football League.

The 12 SPL clubs discussed the plan collectively at all-club meetings in January and February and will discuss it again on 18 April.

The strategic plan has been led by the SPL board - which has included directors from Aberdeen, Celtic, Hibernian, Motherwell, Rangers and St Mirren - and broadly proposes:

  • The creation a pyramid structure in Scottish football
  • Permitted, one-off, short-term opt-outs from the SPL's stadia criteria
  • A merging of the SPL with the SFL by inviting all 30 SLF member clubs to join a 42-club league under one umbrella banner
  • The creation of a 10-team SPL league, with a 12-team Championship and two lower divisions
  • The creation of an extra relegation place in the SPL through play-offs between the top two divisions
  • A redistribution of money away from the top two positions in the league and reallocating it to the other eight clubs
  • An obligation on all Premier League and Championship clubs to become part of the SFA Youth Initiative
  • An earlier start to the season and a return of the winter shutdown

Other proposals include changing the structure of the SPL board to include a director from one of the clubs in the Championship.

However, while he saw merit in many of the proposals, Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston said the central issue of a 10-club top-tier was still well short of a required 11-1 majority.

He thought that it now appeared to have more than 50% of clubs in favour, but he did not think there had been much progress at Monday's meeting.

"There are people who are strongly in favour, there are people who are strongly against and there are a number of people sitting in the middle," said Johnston, who is wants a larger SPL and more cash being filtered down to clubs below the top flight.

"I think the bottom line is that there's still work to be done before we reach a situation where everybody is going to agree there is a plan for the way forward.

"And there are some fundamental issues I have with the proposals that need to be addressed, like the size of the top division and the financial distribution model."