Archives » Scottish Premier League

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.

The Death Of Scottish Football? 3.

I’ve posted about their sheer damned nerve before. Twice over in fact.

But now we see it in all its naked self interest.

These proposals are not to the benefit of Scottish football as a whole.

They would do nothing – absolute zero – to improve the national team’s efforts to qualify for major championships.

They would do nothing to further the development of young players – quite the reverse: their appearance in first teams would be much less likely.

Neither would the base of the game be widened and strengthened. It would almost certainly mean the demise of the current SFL clubs who have little chance of ever reaching Division 1, far less the SPL. By and large these clubs live within their means and on occasion turn up players whom the bigger clubs have missed. They also have dedicated fans (albeit in small numbers) who are passionate about their allegiances and would be lost to the game if their clubs were to go under.

Any clubs who aspire to SFL membership will not gain from this either as very shortly there wouldn’t be an SFL to aspire to. The new SPL2 won’t let the likes of Spartans in, you can be sure of that.

What the proposals might do is ensure that the Old Firm continue to receive the lion’s share of television exposure – and monies – and entrench the current imbalance that is the true source of Scottish football’s malaise. (Two teams win most of the competitions and the rest barely get a look in.)

They will also make sure that the SPL1 and 2 is in fact a closed shop.

The SPL says it has canvassed thousands of Scottish fans about these proposals. Well; nobody asked me.

A discussion on the fan site Pie and Bovril did direct me to a survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) after the proposals were announced, but this isn’t connected to the SPL, I believe. Just in case it is I urge you all to access this and opt against anything similar to an SPL1 and 2.

And as for regionalisation below the SPL, that would largely deprive me of the chance to watch my team as I no longer live in its area. At the moment I can attend lots of away games; under regionalisation that would probably change. From being a frequent attender at matches, I would become more or less a stranger to Scottish football.

The suggestion that SPL reserve teams should play in the regionalised league below SPL1/2 is simply outrageous. They had a reserve league of their own and disbanded it. Let them set it up again or else loan their reserves out to gain experience. Do not sully a totally different competition with teams you can’t be bothered to cater for otherwise. Foisting them on someone else is more than high-handed. It smacks of bullying.

I can’t tell you the despair that these proposals have engendered in me. Quite simply, without the prospect of promotion and relegation throughout the Scottish football system – I am by no means against a pyramid coming into being provided that there is a suitable league for demoted SFL clubs to play in – but, remember, for most of those located in West and Central Scotland there isn’t at the moment – then there is little point in carrying on.

The main things that would free up the current arrangements and lessen the staleness that abounds are either

1. immediately increasing the available promotion spots from SFL1 to the SPL, or

2. getting rid of playing teams four times a season (in other words increasing the size of the various divisions.)

That last would probably mean only one SPL league and two SFL divisions.

I do hope the teams at the top of the SFL Div 1 won’t be seduced by the mere possibility of games against the ugly sisters that they will go for this.

In fact, they’re probably going to do better in attendance terms if they are doing reasonably well in the SFL than if they were struggling in the SPL.

The response of the SFL to all this ought to be, “Two words; seven letters; three of them ‘f’.”

free hit counter script