League reconstruction: Current squabble nothing new

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FOR the seventh year in succession and the eleventh time in recent years, the league management committee’s reconstruction proposals have been thrown out by the clubs who appointed them. Only 17 of the 37 clubs were in favour of the 16-12-12 plan.

The smaller clubs have thus again vetoed the proposals, but the most surprising aspect of the ballot was that at least four First Division clubs voted against reconstruction. It is understood that Celtic opposed the scheme as they felt it was not for the First Division to tell the rest where and when they should play.

Stirling Albion, of course, opposed the change on the grounds that the plan was unjust, especially to them. Other leading Scottish clubs are also said to have voted against reconstruction.

Mr T Ferguson, the Stirling Albion director, said last night that he was delighted that Stirling’s position had been safeguarded. “It would not have been British justice if we had been relegated in such a fashion. The plan would also have put nine Second Division clubs in a financial wilderness.”

He added: “It is clear that the clubs do not want reconstruction and who can blame them? It is simply self preservation, the law of the jungle.

“I can’t see any advantage in reconstruction,” went on the Stirling director. “No-one can convince me that reconstruction will bring the crowds back. It is up to the clubs themselves to do that individually.”

Mr Hugh Nelson, chairman of the league management committee, who framed the proposals, said he was very disappointed. “We have tried for seven years running and failed each time. If there are to be any further moves it will have to come from the clubs themselves – if they want reconstruction.”

His club, Arbroath, voted for 16-12-12, as did East Fife and Stenhousemuir.

For the officials involved, and especially the league secretary, Mr Fred Denovan, it must be an exasperating situation. What the solution is now is anyone’s guess, but it seems that those who favour reconstruction will just have to live with the present unhappy state of affairs.

The vote means that the Scottish League will again consist of 18 first division and 19 second division clubs next season. The failure of the committee’s proposal to go through was not surprising in view of the recent meeting held in Stirling attended by the First Division clubs, Stirling Albion and Hamilton Academicals and 16 of the 19 Second Division clubs.

At that meeting, it was clear that most of the clubs who attended were against the scheme and this was confirmed at yesterday’s specially convened meeting of all the league clubs in Glasgow. The surprise was the size of the victory.

One Second Division club official said: “I was amazed at the margin of our victory, as I did not think we would get such strong support.”

Queen of the South would also be pleased at yesterday’s result, as the Dumfries club have spent money this season strengthening their team in a bid to get back to the First Division.

A number of Second Division clubs are holding another meeting in Stirling tomorrow week. Some are not so much against reconstruction as against the method, and this will be discussed.

• The Scotsman, 13 March 1966