Scottish Premier League clubs will try to rush through reconstruction in time for next season but there will be no mechanism to allow Rangers to be fast-tracked into the proposed new set-up.
The 12 SPL sides will meet at Hampden tomorrow having already agreed “in principle” to a new set-up of two 12-team divisions, which would see each club play each other twice before splitting into three eight-team play-off sections.
The middle eight section would comprise the bottom four from SPL1 and the top four from SPL2.
No proposals have been set for any play-off or relegation slots from the third eight into what is left of the Scottish Football League, nor what would operate below the two 12s, with the SPL not wishing to be seen to prescribe to the SFL who vehemently oppose the SPL plans. It has been suggested that the SFL could invite in two clubs to give them 20 teams, with those then split into two regional leagues of ten to ensure that no team in the senior set-up is ever more than two promotions away from top-flight football.
“We are open-minded and want to enter into any dialogue with the SFL on that basis,” said an SPL source.
SPL clubs, for the first time, will tomorrow be presented with precisely what the financial distribution model would mean for the 24 teams in the new structure. The prospects that some will take fright at the detailed figures means the possibility that the proposal will command the backing of 11 of the 12 SPL clubs, as the voting structure demands, must be considered slender.
“The past has shown that you cannot predict how clubs will vote when it comes to the show of hands,” said the SPL source. “We just have to see.”
Should the unlikely happen, however, the SPL will then seek discussions with the SFL over how to make the two 12s a reality.
It would require a difficult birthing process, with the top 12 placed SFL clubs – effectively the First Division and the top two in the Second Division – then required to decide if they want to accept an invitation to join an expanded SPL a matter of six months after the majority were left enraged at being expected to sort out the Rangers “problem” by admitting Charles Green’s newco into the First Division.
Financial imperatives, illustrated by the fact that stepping up to the SPL could be worth £300,000 to them, are likely to override any lingering resentments from last summer.
The SPL source said: “There is a strong feeling within the SPL that the invitations must be given on merit, rather than any picking of selected clubs, so there is no suggestion of parachuting Rangers in to the new structure.”