League reconstruction, part 96...

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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby the hibLOG » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:58 am

I realise technically that it would provide extra games, but my view is that it wouldn't provide the appeal for either spectators or TV companies. I can see it's a valiant attempt to breathe life into the early stages of the League Cup but the fans have shown over many years, even right up to the semi-final stage, that they don't value the competition as highly as either the League or Scottish Cup, and I don't believe it would be easy to sell it to the TV bosses as an attractive proposition. I suppose the top division sides could include the group stages in season tickets which might also boost attendances but I think it will always struggle to escape the notion that it's not the 'real thing'.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby Scottish » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:24 pm

It's worth remembering that the pressure to end the old sections came from the Premier Division clubs after the re-organisation of 1975 because they thought they had too many fixtures with one additional league game plus - & don't laugh - an onerous programme of European fixtures.

These were the League Cup home AVERAGES of the clubs in the old 1st division in its last season 1974-75:
34973 Rangers
19278 Celtic
16011 Hibernian
10060 Hearts
9427 Dundee
7832 Aberdeen
7771 Dundee United
5603 Dunfermline Athletic
5593 St Johnstone
5535 Ayr United
5489 Motherwell
4986 Kilmarnock
4277 Partick Thistle
3116 Dumbarton
2509 Airdrieonians
2454 Morton
2066 Arbroath
1971 Clyde
Airdrie & Kilmarnock, as promoted clubs, only played once against top division opponents in four games with crowds of 3801 & 10022 respectively.

Bear in mind this was at a time when attendances were in freefall and a major reconstruction was felt to be necessary. There's scarcely a team there that would grumble at having a similar figure for ONE home League Cup tie today, let alone the average of three or four games.

Remember too, these were random draws. Regionalised draws (making the simple assumption that the top 31 league clubs today plus Rangers make up the group stages could produce groups like these:

Aberdeen
Arbroath
Inverness CT
Ross County

Hearts
Hibernian
Livingston
QoS

Dundee
Dundee United
Forfar Athletic
St Johnstone

Ayr United
Kilmarnock
Morton
St Mirren

Celtic
Dumbarton
Partick Thistle
Rangers

Airdrie United
Albion Rovers
Hamilton Academical
Motherwell

Dunfermline Athletic
East Fife
Raith Rovers
Cowdenbeath

Alloa Athletic
Brechin City
Falkirk
Stenhousemuir

Okay, not perfect, particularly if you are a fan of QoS or Brechin but it's safe to say that two OF derbies at ANY level are a TV attraction and given that the cameras follow the OF on their travels wherever they go in the Scottish Cup there's no reason to think they wouldn't do so here as well. If not then there are two Edinburgh & two Dundee derbies to pick from.

It's also a pretty safe bet that visits from top flight clubs will draw bigger gates than they would normally do in their own divisions. For the SPL clubs, look at the crowds that currently attend post-split fixtures. Short of the OF or the occasional European or relegation decider (Hibs last season for instance) gates for these games are dire. I seriously don't think Kilmarnock v Morton is going to draw any less than a post-split Killie v St Johnstone.

That's before factoring in derbies.

Admittedly there's a lopsidedness. Two of these groups have three SPL clubs and two have none. But given that the groups would remain pretty constant that would change. A couple of years back and every group would have had at least one SPL side and no group would have had more than two.

I don't think it could be any worse than what we have now and it restores the top division to 16 clubs, a number which many if not most supporters think is right for the top flight.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby HibeeJibee » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:35 pm

Considering the details, there seem a lot of issues with Longmuir's plan.

Firstly, SPL clubs would take a huge hit. Lose their autonomy and by inference their domination of cash, and drop from 38 games to 30. Yes there are 3 games in Sectional stage of League Cup, which effectively replaces the current 1 KO tie in R2 - but with halved gates, and (especially 'seeded' into 4 pots) you could end-up with very uninspiring match-ups and poor crowds in what was previously ditched as a bad format, moreseo if people see it as a quasi-extension of pre-season. Might be fears of the old league 'meaningless mid-table' as well.

Play-offs are strange (13v14 = loser down, 3v4 = winner up).

Potentially 6 of 10 "Championship" clubs turn-over which is huge.

Clubs in tier 3 drop from 36 games to 30, and have to play-off to reach the Sectional stage of LC, and if they don't presumably they sit idle for 3 weeks?

And picking 'Premiership' + 'Championship' is chronically unoriginal, and unnecessarily promotes wild comparisons with England.

STV also suggests OF 'Colt's have been excluded for now "but are part of future plans".

Still, time'll tell...
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby the hibLOG » Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:23 am

HibeeJibee wrote:And picking 'Premiership' + 'Championship' is chronically unoriginal, and unnecessarily promotes wild comparisons with England.


Longmuir was quoted in the Herald thus:

Even the three names – the First Division of Professional Football, the Championship of Professional Football and the Premier League of Professional Football – are quality names that are premium in terms of aspiration.


Really. I am rendered speechless by the utter vacuity of that statement.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby HibeeJibee » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:03 pm

You'd almost think (hope?) it was subtle sarcasm...
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby the hibLOG » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:23 am

And here is the SPL's opening gambit: http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/foo ... e.19448547

Effectively SPL 1&2, whilst strenuously denying it with more 'branding' guff, but nobody would be under any illusion that it's the same organisation, somewhat enlarged. Novelty factor is the split whereby we have an interdivisional mini league to determine promotion and relegation between the two leagues. (See, I knew my suggestion of something like this a while back wasn't completely mad. Or at least my madness is shared by others.)
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby HibeeJibee » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:41 pm

On paper it looks a more viable plan, with 36-game seasons for everyone, and plenty competitiveness all the way. It requires clubs to accept the possibilty of quite a lot of turnover between 'SPL'1 + 'SPL'2 but in a way that's mitigated by you having a decent chance of getting back next time. There are perhaps a few things to be clarified, like whether all clubs will need USH or not (to split in January/February).

But, by the sounds of it, they'd want 12 SFL clubs to resign and that requires will from them. (And time... 2013-14 makes no sense given SFL's notice period?).

And, of course, what about Rangers...
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby the hibLOG » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:48 pm

Just thinking about the promotion/relegation mini-league - it says that as many as four SPL1 clubs could be relegated. I guess that must be right, but presumably this playoff section doesn't start from scratch. That is, the points differential between clubs accumulated over the first 22 fixtures must surely be retained? It would be unfair if the 8th club had won 10 more points than the 12th and that was rubbed out. And where are the top 4 SPL2 clubs placed points-wise, since by dint of finishing top after 22 games their actual points total will be likely substantially more than the bottom 4 in SPL1. Do you place the top SPL2 team, say, 2 points behind the 12th SPL1 and the rest according to their points difference below them?

EDIT: I read on the STV website that the points would be reset to zero for the promo/relegation league. That in my view is bonkers. The article also makes some quite unhelpful comparisons with the similar Austrian set up from the mid80s/90s based on a conversation with one person: http://sport.stv.tv/football/clubs/aber ... xperiment/
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby HibeeJibee » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:55 pm

It does seem a bit odd to base a whole piece on 1 (universally unknown) man's view - especially as he's drawing comparisons to Austria's current 10-team league (i.e. we're already in the situation of having 12 teams and a split).
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby Scottish » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:01 pm

I know that teams reached the 22 games mark at different times and that the comparison with the 1st division isn't strictly accurate as it wasn't a 12 club league, but based on last season there would have been a seven points difference in the SPL between fourth last and bottom after 22 games. In the 1st there were 13 points between 1st and 4th at the same stage.

Oh, and if reset to zero for relegation/promotion, then why not for title/Europe?
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby HibeeJibee » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:29 pm

I presume the argument is that those clubs have all played the same 11 opponents pre-split... same applies to the Bottom 8. Whereas in the Middle 8, you have to start on 0pts perhaps with some bonus points (say 4-3-2-1pt for 9th-10th-11th-12th / 1st-2nd-3rd-4th). Or only carry points gained in the 6 games v those 3 sides coming over with you. Resetting - even just halving - points would narrow those Top + Bottom 8 races too, though, no doubt.

On paper, I think the model works... you'd have a lot of excitement before the splits with teams trying to get into the Top 8 (in the case of SPL1) and Middle 8 (in the case of SPL2). And then a decent amount of excitement in the Top 8 going for Europe - definetely in the Middle 8 where it's a 14-game shoot-out for SPL1 football next season. Where more details are needed is:
* is there a potential for stagnancy atop the Bottom 8?
* will all 24 clubs need undersoil heating? (presumably like now there'd be a short winter break following MD22 but it's still potentially problematic)
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby the hibLOG » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:56 pm

HibeeJibee wrote:* is there a potential for stagnancy atop the Bottom 8?


Probably, but any more so than in the middle of another setup? It's impossible to eliminate meaningless games, but Doncaster seems to think that his plan will minimise them. It probably also depends on what the plan is for relegation from SPL2. If 2 out of the bottom 8 go down then the threat of the drop could actually extend quite far up the league if it happens to be quite competitive. It's quite conceivable to have a difference of only 10 or a dozen points between 8 teams by the end of the season, and with 3 for a win that's not a huge comfort margin. However, that does put a wholly negative complexion on the bottom 8.

* will all 24 clubs need undersoil heating? (presumably like now there'd be a short winter break following MD22 but it's still potentially problematic)


Global warming will sort that out.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby Rob R » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:40 am

The more I read this , the more input from everyone all with different views on a 12 /12 set up the more I see a 16 club league 6 league cup ties = 36 games dead simple.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby Alan McCabe » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:13 am

I remember David Murray proposing something in the 1990s along the lines of what would be, in essence, a franchise set-up for the elite full-time clubs.
Without knowing everything about this SPL proposal, I see huge similaries in that aborted effort. Most pressing, I think, is the notion that the 12-club second-level would be 'selected' rather than draw upon the clubs ranked 13-24 in the current set-up. So, goodbye Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton and possibly Alloa....welcome on board Queen of the South, Ayr United and Rangers. It reeks of the post-WW2 carve up where small-town provincial clubs were discrarded despite, in some cases, finishing well up the last league tables prior to the hostilities.
I am not in favour of this Doncaster-led proposal, indeed I wouldn't even evacuate a building if Doncaster announced it was on fire!
This entire notion of 'meaningless matches' has been trotted out way too much over the years and would have some think it was a uniquely Scottish concern. Like it or not, the nature of league competition necessitates 'meaningless matches' regardless. The idea that huge relegation battles, i.e. the middle-8 section post-split, would produce an improvement in the supporters' fare is nonsensical. We would more likely have even more turgid, safety-first and negative football than we have now due to the hugely increased fear of relegation.
While the SFL's 16-10-16 plan may look a bit unbalanced, it does at least avoid the possibility of mass relegation threat and offers a degree of a safety to allow clubs to play a bit more relaxed in a larger league set-up. We need to remember that the drop in attendance figures isn't just because of the format employed but is also due to a general fall in standards on the pitch itself.
I am not holding my breath that either option comes to fruition though, since the SPL will undoubtedly fight tooth and nail to preserve its very existence as one of the three stooges of the Scottish game.
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Re: League reconstruction, part 96...

Postby Scottish » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:03 am

I agree with Alan that the assumption that this plan would automatically mean greater competition is flawed. And not just because it would produce negative football but because all the amount of tinkering in the world can't alter disparities between clubs. The SPL this season so far has been a highly competitive league for the simple fact that a club which usually won 80% of the points available is no longer there. Once Rangers have returned let's not kid ourselves that the same old duopoly won't quickly re-assert itself.

In that situation what are the differences between the current set-up and what is proposed? A split at eight instead of six and after every club has played each other once at home and once away. By itself that's better than the current mess which sees the split come in with five games to go and a competition in which most clubs play 19 home games but some can have 18 and others 20. There will be an equal number of home and away games under the new proposals and that's to be welcomed.

But - and it's a big but - where does the guarantee of greater competition come in? Up to the split, yes I would think so. But after? For the top eight it's by no means inconceivable that the clubs in 7th or 8th are already 20 or so points behind a European place. They are also in no danger of relegation. What do they have to play for?

It's also far beyond the realms of improbability that at the split a group of clubs between 6-12 are closely bunched together. There are clubs which then might be removed from the relegation equation on goal difference after 22 games and with no hope of Europe. The present set-up, horrendous as it is, would be more competitive for these clubs than the proposed new one.

Similarly if the league leaders are a mile in front after 22 games, an earlier split isn't going to make any material difference.

Theoretically the middle eight should be highly competitive but not necessarily so. Look at how Dumbarton & Airdrie United - 3rd & 4th in the 2nd division last season - are getting on in the 1st. Ask yourself how you think the clubs which finished 3rd & 4th in the 1st division last season - Falkirk & Hamilton - would be doing against the bottom four in the SPL - Aberdeen, Inverness CT, Hibernian & Dunfermline. These clubs have taken one point from two home games v the Pars. How many more against teams much better than Dunfermline?

It's very easy to envisage a situation whereby three clubs establish survival very quickly with three having no chance and only two clubs in any sort of battle for an SPL place. Much as happens now in the exisiting SPL most seasons.

Then there are the eight remaining 1st division clubs. There is no mention of what happens to them other than that they will play another round of matches. What incentive is there with fourteen games to go in knowing the best you can do is 7th place? Especially if, in a tight season, the club in 7th may be only a couple of points off a potential play-off in 3rd or 4th. What happens to the club(s) at the bottom? Where is the pyramid structure? Or is it a "professional" league with no relegation or promotion? That will really bring the crowds out for, say, a bottom of the table clash between Ayr United & Hamilton Accies, eh?

No, this plan is geared solely for the big clubs and by that I don't even mean the SPL as a whole, even though they have endorsed it unanimously. I compare it to the 1975 reconstruction when turkeys did indeed vote for Xmas. Within five years of that being established 60% of the initial membership had been relegated. That DID produce competition but it certainly wan't the intention.

It's the same here. The non-city SPL clubs think they are building themselves a bulwark against relegation, while at the same time extending their chances of obtaining four home OF matches a season with eight instead of six as at present. But I guarantee you this: as soon as a club which finishes 9th in the SPL by a baw hair after 22 games ends up going down after the second stage there will be howls for further change. It's all right saying the path back is easier. Unless there are generous 'parachute' payments then relegated clubs will have to cut severely. And if there are such payments so much for competition.

But if the SPL want to know what genuine competition looks like, the bottom two clubs apart, and without any fancy tinkering - just a regular league season - they could do worse than look HERE
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