THE 30 Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs have voted unanimously in favour of proposing a new three-tier league structure for season 2014-15.
The plan outlines three divisions, with the top flight named the Premier Division, the second named the Championship and the third the First Division. Both the Premier and First Division would comprise 16 teams, whilst the middle division - the Championship - would be made up of 10 teams.
The proposal would involve a merger between the SFL and the Scottish Premier League (SPL), with SFL chief executive David Longmuir requiring agreement from the SPL and the SFA on the plans.
The SFL is also proposing a new format for the Scottish League Cup, based on a system of seeding similar to that used in the Champions League.
However, a number of clubs have already voice opposition to the plans, with Ross County manager Derek Adams expressing concern over what he described as a lack of quality in the clubs below the SPL level.
The SPL currently comprises 12 clubs, with the league’s governing body progressing its own plans for a 16-team top flight, with an additional option of two top leagues of 12 teams.
SPL sources have suggested that there is no chance of the SFL plan receiving the support of the required 11 SPL clubs (as a result of the 11-1 voting system) for the suggested changes to be agreed.
The SFL’s plans for league reconstruction are based on a three-tier competition. The three divisions - tentatively named the Premier Division, Championship and First Division - would be made up of 16, 10 and 16 teams respectively and would involve more play-offs and promotion/relegation places.
The plans for the three-tier system include:
• Comprising 16 teams
• Two automatic relegation places with a third relegation place for the loser of a play-off between 13th and 14th placed teams
• Each side will play 30 games in a season; playing the other 15 clubs at home and away
• Plans include a winter break proposal for the Premier Division
• Comprising 10 teams
• Each side will play 36 games in a season
• Two automatic promotion places with a third promotion place for the winners of the play-off between third and fourth
• Two automatic relegation places with the eighth-placed team facing a play-off with the third-, fourth- and fifth-placed sides from the third tier
• Comprising 16 teams
• Each side will play 30 games in a season
• Two automatic promotion places with three promotion play-off spots involving third-, fourth- and fifth-placed teams
• Bottom side in the three leagues would play the best side from a pyramid structure in a bid to maintain their league status
No details have been revealed concerning places for ‘Colt’ teams from SPL clubs but this is believed to be a part of future plans.
League Cup revamp
The SFL’s plans for a revamped League Cup competition would see the tournament start in mid-July, with the 20 clubs who finish bottom of the proposed-three tier structure in the previous season facing each other in a round of knockout matches.
The ten clubs progressing would then join the league’s 22 other clubs and participate in a 32-team group stage tournament - similar to the Champions League.
The tournament, which would be seeded, would be based on league placings, creating eight sections made up of four sides.
Three matches would be played in each group, with the teams that finished in the top 16 position in the previous year given two home games, and bottom 16 sides given one home game. Gate proceeds would, however, be shared equally.
The sides finishing in first and second place in each group would then advance to a round of 16, playing through on a knockout basis to the final.