Q&A: Summer football and Scottish football

David Wotherspoon and Andrew Considine
St Johnstone and Aberdeen finished their season in late May and will play European qualifiers in early July

With three-quarters of Scotland's top-flight clubs having told a BBC Scotland survey that they would consider a move to summer football, the issue is back at the forefront of the game.

There are procedures for introducing changes to Scottish football, so what would need to happen for a summer calendar to be introduced, in whatever form?

Here, BBC Scotland looks at the process.

Who would make the decision?

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Special report - Scotland football explores summer football

The Scottish Professional Football League runs the four league competitions and the Scottish League Cup, while the Scottish Football Association runs the Scottish Cup and the international fixtures.

So, changes to the calendar would need to involve both organisations, although it would primarily be based around the league schedule.

Ultimately, within both organisations, it's the clubs who decide.

Could a change be made in time for the 2016-17 season?

In theory, yes. The vote would need to be held after June 27, 2016, since that is three years since the formation of the SPFL, when the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League agreed to merge.

When that decision was taken, all 42 clubs unanimously agreed to an effective moratorium on further reconstruction or structural changes for three years.

In that time, such issues can only be passed with a unanimous, 100% vote.

summer football graphic

As the BBC Scotland survey shows, summer football does not have that backing just now. However, after June 27, 2016, the old voting structures are restored, so it does not require the support of every club in Scotland.

Does the SPFL have to put it to the clubs at their annual general meeting?

The board of the SPFL could do that, or alternatively, the vote could be raised at a general meeting, which can be called by two clubs.

Would there be enough support for summer football once the effective moratorium has passed?

This is where the situation becomes 'complex', as SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster put it. Summer football means different things to different people.

Some clubs consider it to be a season that runs from March to November, however for others with a more practical perspective, it means a season that runs from July to December and then February to May. The difference is significant.

Blair Alston and Greg Tansey
Falkirk and Inverness contested the Scottish Cup final in May, the tournament having started in August

As the Premiership currently stands, a season from March to November could not accommodate all of the games.

A switch to that calendar would therefore require structural change and a revised financial distribution model, with either a smaller top flight or a bigger top league but with clubs only playing each other twice a season.

For that to be agreed, it requires changes to the SPFL's articles of association as well as the rules and regulations, so 11 of the 12 Premiership clubs would need to vote in favour, along with 75% of Championship clubs, 75% of League One clubs and 75% of League Two clubs.

The alternative is to retain the current league structures, but simply alter the calendar to a July start and with three- or four-week breaks in January and June.

This requires a slightly lower voting threshold since it is merely a rule change - there is a rule that the leagues must begin on or after August 1 - and so would need the backing of 75% of Premiership clubs, 75% of Championship clubs, 75% of League One clubs and 75% of a League Two clubs.

In effect, either model would be scuppered if three or more clubs in any of the divisions voted against.

In reality, thorough discussions would need to be in held in advance to ascertain the financial implications, the potential benefits and how any change would accommodate European and international fixtures, as well as the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup.

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