SFL clubs propose new three-tier league system in Scotland

David Longmuir and SFL president David Ballantyne
David Longmuir and David Ballantyne

The 30 Scottish Football League clubs have unanimously voted to propose a new three-tier league structure of 16, 10 and 16 teams for season 2014-15.

Its top-flight would be called the Premier Division, the second the Championship and the third would be called the First Division.

The plan involves a merger between the SFL and the Scottish Premier League.

SFL chief executive David Longmuir's plan would require agreement from the SPL and the Scottish FA.

Following a meeting at Hampden, the SFL is also proposing a new format for the Scottish League Cup based on a seeding system similar to the Champions League.

Longmuir's original proposal had raised the possibility of second sides from Celtic and Rangers being added to the bottom tier to take the total to 18 teams.

But a number of clubs had voiced their opposition to the idea ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

The SPL presently has 12 clubs, with their governing body progressing its own plan for a 16-team top flight, although there is also an option of two top leagues of 12.

SPL sources have suggested there is no prospect of the SFL plan receiving the support of the 11 clubs required for such change to be accepted by the present top flight.

But Longmuir argues that the plan would benefit all clubs in the senior Scottish game, with many clubs and fans having espoused the benefits of a return to one league body.

"It involves the merger of the SPL and the SFL coming together to collaborate and work together going forward, which I think would be a good thing for the game," he told BBC Scotland.

"And it involves a governance model which also would provide a balanced governance of the game."

"It's about how much incremental benefit it can deliver, both commercially, from broadcast and sponsorship revenues, but also in the development of young Scottish talent and also from the impact of the broadcast media, who may well be interested in something that is dynamic."

The SFL plan proposes the introduction of promotion and relegation play-offs involving the top flight.

Teams finishing 15th and 16th would be automatically relegated, being replaced with the Championship title winners and runners-up.

Sides finishing 13th and 14th in the Premier Division would enter play-offs with those finishing third and fourth in the Championship.

There would be automatic relegation for the sides finishing ninth and 10th in the Championship, with a play-off taking place between the side finishing eighth and the sides in third, fourth and fifth in the First Division.

The First Division champions and runners-up would be automatically promoted, while the side finishing bottom would be involved in a play-off to remain with the senior set-up as part of a new pyramid structure.

"It encourages the flow of clubs between the divisions, it encourages change, it encourages refreshment and vibrancy of clubs changing their positions," explained Longmuir.

"But it also accommodates the threat and challenges faced by relegation and what that means financially."


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