League reconstruction

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lbb
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League reconstruction

Post by lbb » Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:00 am

I knew league reconstruction would rear its head when Aberdeen hit bottom of the table. It's a Scottish football tradition. Surprisingly, though, this proposal could involve the brave, fighting Dons actually being relegated. :shock: However, with 3 out of 12 clubs required to go down to bring about the return to a ten team Premier Division, I think it's unlikely it will have much support amongst the majority of clubs.

The reality is, though, we've tinkered with numbers for the last 25 years and it hasn't made the slightest bit of difference. There is no 'magic' formula in which the league will become instantly successful. Unless you encourage proper youth development and good football then you can have as many teams as you want in the league. Play in the summer in weather that's conducive to good, passing football. Get rid of the League Cup. Get rid of Ross Tokeley. Get rid of every Scottish youth coach that ever went to Largs. Award points for goals. Make the goals bigger. Make it 10-a-side. If you want to be radical then you need to think radical. Don't say you're going back to 10 teams and having a 3 week break in January and imagine that you're starting a revolution.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Scottish » Mon Dec 13, 2010 2:37 pm

It wouldn't be Scottish football if there wasn't discussion of the never-ending quest for the Holy Grail of the perfect format. Believe it or not, by the end of this season the current top division format will have become the joint third longest lasting in history. Its eleven seasons equalling the ten-club set-up of 1975-86. Longest lasting was the 18-club division of 1955-75, followed by the 20-club top flight of 1922-39. So while there was quite a lot of changes between 1890-1922, reflecting the growth of the popularity of the game, there was quite a bit of stability between 1922-1986 - four formats lasting in length between nine seasons (16 clubs, 1946-55) to twenty seasons. Or to put it another way, 57 seasons in total with comparatively little change.

Since then, although the top division has never varied between ten and twelve clubs, changes have been more frequent. To twelve in 1986, back to ten in 1988, twelve again in 1991, back to ten in 1994 and then twelve in 2000 with the SPL breaking away from the SFL in 1998 for good measure.

As you say the suggestion of a ten club league with one relegated and a play-off is hardly new (though the play-offs in the mid-1990s were popular and boosted attendances considerably). Nor is the idea of a winter break. Though for that to succeed there would have to be a great degree of flexibility over what constitutes 'winter' as the past few weeks demonstrate. Imagine there being a frost-free January but clubs unable to play their backlog of fixtures because they were on a break. As for playing in the summer? Again, when is the Scottish summer. There were games postponed on the final day of the season in 2009 because of floods and many's an August match is best viewed from the safety of an ark.

One other thing. Motherwell are the usual beneficiaries of reconstruction though Aberdeen, Hibs & St Mirren have all been grateful to changes in the not so distant past.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by msdkfc » Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:15 pm

My ideal SPL would be a 16 team league, played in a similar time period as Norway or Sweden (starting in the middle of March or end of March/start of April and finishing at the start of November or middle of November), with live games taking place on Friday nights and/or Saturday nights and a reintroduction of limited standing areas.

People can argue/disagree with that but that's what i'd love, as someone who goes week in, week out to see his team home and away. I know i'll never see all that, but i can dream..

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by killiegradge » Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:22 pm

I really cannot understand why such a proposal would come from the SPL and Neil Doncaster? It may benefit the OF in a small way although I fail to understand what benefits it would bring to Scottish football.it will just create a bigger divide between the OF and the rest when it is rejeceted. It cannot have been terribly well researched as it seems doomed to failure already with the 11-1 voting system.Is the hope that perhaps the promise of summer football,winter break etc. may encourage some clubs to vote for the change when if based only on the 10 team leagues they would reject it outright?

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Scottish » Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:02 pm

The only clubs that really benefit are those in the 1st division with the suggestion of teams finishing 2nd, 3rd & 4th being involved in a play-off with the 9th placed SPL club. That's the 'sweetener' to overcome objections from within the SPL and overcome the 11-1 hurdle. That voting system was designed to give the OF an effective veto on any changes but has ended up a powerful weapon for clubs fearful of relegation. By offering a potential quick return to the top flight the SPL thinks it can get round the problem.

I still don't think the proposition is attractive enough for 'provincial' SPL clubs to vote in favour but I can see the merits from the 1st division POV. Look at last season. Instead of an easy (in the end) promotion for ICT and lack of interest thereafter, there would have been a dogfight between Dundee, Dunfermline, Queen of the South and Ross County for play-off places.

What's worrying though is what happens below that. The suggestion is for an undefined 'regional' structure with no details of how promotion or relegation would work and which requires the abolition of the SFL with virtually the whole of league football at all levels in Scotland run and managed by the SPL, leaving the SFA with the various national sides and the Scottish Cup. If it's a move towards a genuine pyramid system then all well and good. But does anyone really think that the best interests of the twenty existing SFL clubs outwith the 1st division plus the various other leagues are best represented by the people who have been running the SPL for the past twelve years? Where ownerships of clubs can change not only personnel but nationality overnight?

Look south to see what happens when an overmighty league virtually takes over a national association. Was Roman Abramovitch busting a gut for England's 2018 World Cup bid? No, he was part of the Russian delegation. Were the owners of the Manchester clubs or Liverpool in the slightest bit interested in the success of the English national team?

We already have ownership problems in Scottish football. One of our largest clubs is more or less operating under bank instruction after several failed attempts to sell it and the biggest shareholder in the other is more frequently absent than present at matches. Can such individuals really have any motivation towards the welfare of the smaller clubs?

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by lbb » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:31 pm

scottish wrote: One other thing. Motherwell are the usual beneficiaries of reconstruction though Aberdeen, Hibs & St Mirren have all been grateful to changes in the not so distant past.
It just feels like it's happened to Aberdeen more often. They always seem to escape relegation by the skin of their teeth.

I don't really see any benefit for the Old Firm either. I know there is talk of more 'glamour' friendlies being squeezed in - Celtic playing Arsenal on top of the Burj Al Arab hotel for the sake of PPV ex-pats in Hong Kong, for example - but this is surely the stuff of tabloid fantasy. I doubt there's any real mileage in these matches for either club.

I liked the idea of a winter break but the idea of a winter break is not really to get a break from the winter. So it doesn't really matter what the weather is like. It's about giving players a rest, giving pitches a rest and allowing supporters a financial break from games just after Christmas. I thought it worked which is presumably why they got rid of it.

I like the idea of games being played on Friday and Saturday nights but I doubt the police would. These are far more preferable times to play games than the horrible lunchtime kick-offs that kill atmosphere.

I don't think the proposal overall has been given much thought. I doubt Doncaster has spent more than 10 minutes on this given the lack of any real detail. It is puzzling to think where and why this has suddenly came through. It is no more than half-baked and it's far more interesting to wonder why Doncaster felt the need to go public with this now.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by jimmygrumble » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:45 am

It is difficult to see exactly who might benefit from these proposed changes.

Current SPL clubs - a 10 club league will result in two clubs, whether it be Hamilton, St. Mirren, Aberdeen or whoever losing their current SPL status and with it the financial benefits of hosting the OF on a regular basis.

Current First Division clubs - it is suggested that some of the SPL prize money will find its way to First Division clubs if they join an SPL2, in which case, chairmen will be rubbing their hands with glee. Of course, with two less SPL1 places up for grabs, the likes of Dunfermline, Dundee, Falkirk will find it more difficult to achieve the more lucrative ambition of promotion.

Current Second/Third Division clubs. The proposals are a real kick in the teeth for these clubs. Regionalisation would still require Elgin and Berwick to play each other every year, so offers very little in terms of cost savings. The prospect of SPL reserve teams taking part devalues the competition. The SPL clubs decided, all by themselves, to scrap their reserve league - that should not give them the right to hijack the SFL, just because their fringe players are now restricted to bounce games. Anyway, would Rangers fans flock to Ibrox to watch Rangers Reserves v. Albion Rovers, if the first team were playing at Motherwell on the same day? Most probably not. Not much away support either when Celtic reserves travel to Stranraer if the Hoops were entertaining Hearts at Celtic Park at the same time.

Minimum seating capacity (3000?) would result in most D2/3 clubs becoming ineligible to join the SPL2. Only Alloa, Clyde, Livingston and Queen's Park meet these criteria and could take advantage of promotion, and Clyde are quitting Broadwood anyway. Without any realistic chance of promotion, the SFL would become a stagnant competition, attendances would suffer, and clubs would wither and die.

Scottish League clubs prevented from entering the Scottish League Cup? This summarises the arrogant and patronising stance the SPL have taken in this matter. Was it not the SPL clubs who showed a total lack of respect to the Co-op earlier this year, causing them to withdraw their sponsorship of the competition?

I guess the majority of fans in Scotland support the OF, and from their perspective, these proposals are a genuine attempt to breathe some life into the game. For the rest of us, it is difficult to comprehend the logic behind such ill-conceived, greed-induced stupidity.
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Gordon Baird
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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Gordon Baird » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:03 am

Doncaster's proposal will not benefit Scottish football but will achieve its aim of reducing the influence of the SFL even further.
Until the authorities understand that most supporters are sick to death of playing opponents (at least) four times a season there will never be any meaningful reconstruction.
Friday/Saturday evenings will never happen - haven't the police already vetoed Scotland matches on a Friday night?

As for a winter break, I've often thought that supporters need one before Xmas. David will know more about this than me, but aren't crowds usually pretty poor in December? If there is to be a break, would restarting on Boxing Day or Ne'erday not attract bigger crowds?
We've seen before that breaks are used to squeeze in glamour friendlies on the other side of the globe, it's nothing to do with resting players. As domestic crowds continue to fall, this will become even more appealing.
In any case, we may be having a winter break forced upon us - there's growing talk of staging the Qatar World Cup in January, and if that happens all European football will soon shut down in that month in preparation.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Scottish » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:44 am

Gordon Baird wrote: As for a winter break, I've often thought that supporters need one before Xmas. David will know more about this than me, but aren't crowds usually pretty poor in December? If there is to be a break, would restarting on Boxing Day or Ne'erday not attract bigger crowds?
Yes, this weekend is usually one of the worst attended of the year - on a par with end of season matches. Last weekend was bad too. Under 3,000 at Paisley, 2,000 at East End Park and 1,500 at both Cappielow and Firhill. All well down on seasonal averages.

Boxing Day and Ne'erday would attract bigger gates, particularly if there was a reversion to 'derby' fixtures but the powers that be set their faces against this some time ago. We only have them this season due to the happy coincidence of New Year's Day falling on a Saturday. Even then they can't get things right. New Year derbies on the one hand and a full SPL midweek card on Wednesday Dec 29th on the other, which involves the southernmost club, Kilmarnock, travelling to the northernmost, ICT, and Aberdeen traipsing south to Hamilton.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Skyline Drifter » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:12 pm

scottish wrote:
Gordon Baird wrote: As for a winter break, I've often thought that supporters need one before Xmas. David will know more about this than me, but aren't crowds usually pretty poor in December? If there is to be a break, would restarting on Boxing Day or Ne'erday not attract bigger crowds?
Yes, this weekend is usually one of the worst attended of the year - on a par with end of season matches. Last weekend was bad too. Under 3,000 at Paisley, 2,000 at East End Park and 1,500 at both Cappielow and Firhill. All well down on seasonal averages.
Without disagreeing at all with the actual point you are making, because it is well know the Saturdays before Xmas have poor attendances, the ones this year were almost certainly pretty badly affected by the weather, both in terms of people not bothering or being unable to travel and in terms of doubt over fixtures going ahead causing people to plan other things.

I was at East End Park on Saturday and to be fair Dunfermline did remarkably to get the game on. Along the road from East End Park there was snow of several feet on all the pavements and still many a car abandoned on the roadside. I can understand why even many locals didn't venture to the game.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Gordon Baird » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:33 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote: I was at East End Park on Saturday and to be fair Dunfermline did remarkably to get the game on. Along the road from East End Park there was snow of several feet on all the pavements and still many a car abandoned on the roadside. I can understand why even many locals didn't venture to the game.
Absolutely, and for once the police were co-operative rather than just ordering the game off. Whether the cost of the undersoil heating was justified is another matter although, understandably, the club was keen to get the game on for cash-flow reasons.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by steve994 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:46 pm

The proposal is for a 36 game season with the split near the end being abolished. That will mean each club getting four OF matches instead of some getting four and some three. Self interest will see the smaller division being accepted.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Scottish » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:24 am

steve994 wrote: Self interest will see the smaller division being accepted.

Steve
Whose? Of all the clubs that have played in the SPL under the current format, only three have never finished in what would be a potential relegation position under the proposed changes. Every other SPL club faces a much greater chance of going down. And please don't mention 'guarantees' of 'parachute' payments for relegation. The SPL have been trying to get out of their supposedly perpetual and binding contract with the SFL since before the ink was dry on their agreement in 1998.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by HibeeJibee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:54 pm

My views on this shambles of a plan, drafted in secret without consultation of SPL and SFA, which could wreck football for clubs outside the SPL2 and set-up an impenetrable barrier below it, are clear. The fact that they would allow up to 5 "B" teams to ascend into the SPL2 - indicates how much of a complete farce this is. Coupled with the SPL Cup, the 3,000 seats, the enforced regionalisation and "B" teams, the alleged denial of voting rights to regional pool clubs, and so on.

However... guess what...

... Henry McLeish releases his report into the professional game tomorrow.

Think of Doncaster's proposals as the Japanese naval strikeforce, to McLeish's Pearl Harbor battlefleet.

Pre-emptive strike.

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Re: League reconstruction

Post by Scottish » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:07 pm

HibeeJibee wrote:
Think of Doncaster's proposals as the Japanese naval strikeforce, to McLeish's Pearl Harbor battlefleet.

Pre-emptive strike.
So....just under four years until the SPL are nuked?

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