Alex McLeish: Former Scotland boss calls for expanded Scottish Premiership

Scotland are scheduled to face Nations League rivals Israel in the Euro 2020 play-offs
Scotland are scheduled to face Nations League rivals Israel in the Euro 2020 play-offs

The "pressure" of the 12-team Scottish Premiership set-up has contributed to the national team's failings, says former Scotland manager Alex McLeish.

And with an SPFL taskforce exploring league reconstruction, McLeish has called for an expanded top flight.

Hearts would be relegated if the Premiership followed the lower leagues in being declared as it stands.

"Make the league bigger, don't leave the sword hanging over all our clubs," McLeish told PLZ Soccer.

"From day one until the finish of the season, they are playing under a hell of a pressure.

"For us to improve, we have to keep the clubs with the big supports. It would be terrible for the Scottish game to lose big clubs from the top flight, we need them there."

The 12-team top flight has been in place since 2000, two years after Scotland's World Cup finals participation marked their last appearance at a major tournament.

McLeish's second spell in charge ended in his departure a year ago following a poor start to Euro 2020 qualifying.

However, under his stewardship, Scotland won their Nations League group to earn a Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel, which has been postponed until June due to coronavirus.

"There's too much pressure in the Scottish game and that's one of the reasons why we haven't done as well in international football as we should have," McLeish added.

"The Scottish game has suffered really badly in the last 20-odd years [with Scotland] not qualifying for a major competition. Hopefully [head coach] Steve [Clarke] can change that and we get to Euro 2020."

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