Oh, Hell

SP Hell.

I see the proposals for a reconstruction of the Scottish football leagues have advanced to the point they are now to be voted on.

I haven’t commented up to now as I’ve been resigned to gloom all season. The 4-3 at Falkirk and 3-0 at Morton did cheer me up, though.

The proposals would see a merger of the SPL and SFL with a top league of 12 clubs (as now; so no change at all!) The second tier will also have 12 clubs (an enlargement of 2.) The third tier will have 18 clubs (effectively a merger of Divs 2 and 3 of the SFL minus 2 clubs.) The fourth tier disappears (but there is a mooting of introducing relegation to/promotion from a pyramid below it.)

There is in addition to be a “split” after the top two Divs have played 22 games (home and away against each other) with the 24 clubs divided into three sections of 8,8 and 8 where again there will be home and away games against each member.

There is an air of indecent haste about this as it seems to be envisaged that this will start in season 2013-2014. That would mean changing the finishing post halfway through this season (and also effectively kybosh the play-offs for this year.)

As far as the top two “new” Divisions is concerned how is this different in essence from the SPL 2 which was shot down in flames about a year ago?

And I wonder how many promotion/relegation places will there be between the third and the second. Not enough I would suggest.

It all sounds to me remarkably like a way to hike Rangers up to tier 2 a year early. They will undoubtedly win Div 3 this season and I can see the argument running that they won their league; so deserve to be promoted. The Div 2 winners (Queen of the South?) would be going up to the second tier anyway.

In this regard it would be nice to have Rangers saying that if their promotion to the second tier in one go was advocated they would refuse to accept it – but I can’t see them making that refusal: even if they have described the plans as an abomination.

By all means have a merged league – provided there are equal voting rights across the Divisions. (Otherwise how long will it be before the top two Divisions vote away the lower completely?)

Very few fans, however, want to keep the present system where clubs play each other 4 times a season. The proposals do not really address this point. Under them 20 clubs will still be doing exactly that.*

The main trouble is that Rangers and Celtic are too dominant within the Scottish game. I have frequently said that unless and until the gate income is once again shared between the two competing clubs, along with more equal division of TV monies, no other club will have a hope in hell of challenging the big two.

I do know one thing though. Whatever and whenever league reconstruction happens Dumbarton will be demoted. That’s what always happens.

1922: third bottom Div 1. Three clubs relegated to adjust division sizes. Previously only two clubs had been relegated. It took us 50 years to get back up.

1975 : fifth bottom Div 1. Only the top 10 clubs stayed in the first tier. It only took us 8 years to get up to that level (for a brief one season visit.)

1994 : fifth bottom Div 1. Three Divisions rearranged to four, bottom five in Div 1 demoted to new Div 2. Promotion the next year saw us then have our worst season in living memory (and beyond) before tumbling down the leagues. 16 long years later we finally got back to Div 1.

Demoted
Under
Materiallly
Biased
Arbitrary
Regulation
Thrice
Over
Now

*Edited to add. The 24 “top” clubs will all play four times against at least three teams.

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2 comments

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  1. neilwilliamson

    Can’t see your reasoning, Jack. By rushing it in for next year, surely what they’re doing is ensuring that Rangers stay in the bottom tier. If they win D3 that’ll place them 10th bottom of the league structure, which is still well within the bottom 18 and they’ve already stated that the restructure will be done according to league placing.

    What’s pissing Rangers off is that they’ve not been asked to contribute to the restructuring discussion in any way.

  2. jackdeighton

    My reasoning was that as league winners they would have* to be promoted. That could only mean to the new second tier (so leapfrogging about 8 clubs) as the third tier would effectively be where they’d come from. There is precedent for this. It happened to Stranraer in 1994.

    (*I hadn’t read the bit about “restructure will be done according to league placing.” But that could still be foogled to allow their promotion on the lines I’ve suggested.)

    “What’s pissing Rangers off is that they’ve not been asked to contribute to the restructuring discussion in any way.”
    Well, they’re not full members of the SFL so won’t even have a vote!

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