Thursday, 27 December 2012

Scottish Football: League reconstruction

With all the talk of SPL and SFL reconstruction going on, I will talk you through the proposed formats for the SPL and SFL.
Firstly a little bit of history,( before the SPL was created) the SFL had two divisions of 18 and 20. The leagues in the final season of this structure can be seen below:
Scottish First Divison 1974-75 (Top 10 promoted to new Premier Division)
4Dundee United34197872432945
7Ayr United34148125061-1136
9St Johnstone341112114144-334
13Partick Thistle341010144862-1430
15Dunfermline Athletic3479184666-2023
1974-75 Scottish Second Division (Top 6 promoted to First Division) Note: Medowbank were a new team
2Queen of the South38237877334453
4Hamilton Academical382171069303949
5East Fife382071157421547
6St. Mirren381981174522246
8Stirling Albion381791267551243
9Berwick Rangers38176155349440
10East Stirlingshire38168145652440
12Albion Rovers38167157264839
13Raith Rovers38149154844437
15Alloa Athletic381111164956-733
16Queen’s Park381010184154-1330
17Brechin City3897224485-4125
18Meadowbank Thistle3895242687-6123  
20Forfar Athletic38173027102-759
At the end of this season, the leagues were reconstructed into three divisions of 10, 14 and 14. This meant that the top ten teams in Division One entered the new Premier Division, while the rest of the Division One clubs entered the new First Division. This new structure was created to increase interest in the league as attendances were dropping at an alarming rate.

This 38 team structure stayed until 1992 as it was tweaked to become leagues of 12, 12 and 14. Two years later the league system changed again, to include a fourth-tier to make all leagues have 10 teams. Highland league outfit Ross County and new team Inverness Caley Thistle (a merger of Highland league teams Inverness Thistle and Inverness Caley) were placed into Division 3 (ring a bell), also three points were awarded for a win instead of two.

On 8 September 1997, the football clubs in the Premier Division decided to split from the Scottish Football League and form the Scottish Premier League, following the Premiership in England, which came into force during the 1992–93 season. This decision was fuelled by a desire by the top clubs in Scotland to retain more of the revenue generated by the game. Originally, league sponsorship money was divided proportionally between clubs in all four divisions. After the SPL was formed, its clubs retained all of its commercial revenues except for an annual payment to the SFL and a parachute payment to relegated clubs.

 In 1999 there was a increase from 10 clubs to 12 was part of the deal offered to obtain approval from SFL member clubs. Since then, the SPL has operated a "split league format" to prevent the need for a 44-game schedule, which was once used in the Scottish Premier Division, but is now considered to be too high a number of games in a league season. The current system is below:
1Scottish Premier League
(Clydesdale Bank Premier League)
12 clubs
2Scottish Football League First Division
(Irn-Bru Scottish Football League First Division)
10 clubs
3Scottish Football League Second Division
(Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Second Division)
10 clubs
4Scottish Football League Third Division
(Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Third Division)
10 clubs

These are the facts that we know will change according to BBC Sport Scotland:
  • The SPL and SFL will merge into one body at the start of season 2013-14 again as the SPFL.
  • Play-offs between the top two divisions will be introduced in time for the coming season with one team from the top flight and three from the second tier competing for a place in the following season's SPL
  • There will be an increase in the parachute payments made to clubs relegated from the SPL
  • Changes will be made to the distribution model for clubs in the top two tiers with teams in the lower leagues earning a similar amount to the current set-up
  • A new pyramid system will become effective from season 2014-15 that will allow a potential place in the new league format for a team from either the Highland league or newly-created 'Lowland League'

There are many proposals for SPL reconstruction here are the two main ones.

Proposal A - 16 teams - backed by the SFL and I

This Proposal is a 16 team league would be a 37 game season with a home and away then a split it would include the current twelve SPL sides and the top 4 in SFL1 which is at the minute Partick, Dunfermiline, Morton and Livingstone. Neil Doncaster the SPL chief executive is against the 16 team league. SFL chief David Longmuir wants a system 16, 10 and 18 with Rangers and Celtic Reserves playing in the the lower leagues. It is unlikely that this will be successful as most SPL clubs are against this.

Proposal B - 12 teams and SPL2

The SPL have voted for this as their favourite, the top 12 SFL will be invited to a new SPL2. A lot of fans are against this if it means that The Rangers Football Club are parachuted into SPL2. There will be two leagues of 12 under this proposal, in each league there will be 22 game normal season then the top 8 of SPL will play for the league whilst retaining their previous points from the 22 game season. The bottom 4 of SPL and the top 4 in SPL 2 so 4 teams could be relegated or none could be relegated. The bottom 8 SPL2 teams play to stay in the league whilst retaining their points. This is a 36 game season.

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