SFL reject SFA offer to intervene after veto

SFL Chief Executive David Longmuir. Picture: SNS

SFL Chief Executive David Longmuir. Picture: SNS

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THE Scottish Football League has rejected the Scottish Football Association’s offer to help resolve the row over league reconstruction, opting instead to work on its own proposals.

The SFA yesterday offered to “get involved” in driving change after St Mirren and Ross County vetoed reconstruction proposals at a Scottish Premier League meeting on Monday.

The plans, which would have included the five principles of a single league body, fairer financial distribution, introduction of play-offs, parachute payments and a pyramid below the Third Division, needed an 11-1 majority before being sent to the SFL.

The SPL board has invited SFA chief executive Stewart Regan and president Campbell Ogilivie to hold talks in a bid to achieve consensus but the SFL wants to find a solution within its own clubs.

A statement from SFL chief executive David Longmuir read: “The Board of the Scottish Football League wishes to convey its thanks to the governing body for its offer of assistance at this time. We are, however, currently working with SFL clubs in all divisions with a view to agreeing an alternative way forward which builds on the five core principles. We would like to confirm our continued commitment to those principles. We are also very keen to share our proposals with the SPL and the SFA as soon as practical. We therefore respectfully wish to ask the SFA to work with us at this time, whilst we progress our proposals.”

Speaking after an SFL board meeting at Hampden yesterday, Longmuir said: “We would like to exhaust all possible avenues of a solution within the clubs themselves.

“We appreciate the offer of help but, at this time, we would like to continue to try to get a solution ourselves. I think it’s only right that the leagues do that.

“On the board are representatives from all three divisions and we are now going to work on our ideas, that we have always had, to try to deliver a solution that might move the thing forward next season, maybe in a different way from what’s currently being proposed and at least make one step along the way of change.

“That’s really what we are working on at the moment with the First, Second and Third Division clubs.”

An SPL spokesman confirmed: “The SPL Board has invited Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie to meet the SPL Board to hear their ideas as to how consensus can be achieved.”

However, it is understood that the view of the Board is that it should be down to clubs to decide what league structure they want.

Iain Blair seeks help in rules

Scottish Premier League secretary Iain Blair will study the organisation’s rulebook today to see if there is provision for the Scottish Football Association to intervene following the collapse of league reconstruction proposals on Monday.

Both St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour and Falkirk counterpart Martin Ritchie called for the governing body to step in and mediate after the SPL vote on the plans failed when the Paisley club and Ross County voted against it.

The SFA last night released a statement saying that it is prepared to “get involved” in a search for consensus but stating that it would “require a mandate from both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.” Blair will have a look at the SPL’s rulebook to determine whether clubs could vote to suspend the league’s authority.

“On the one hand, there is the opportunity for a third party to become involved,” he said. “The SFA have been involved in all the discussions which have been going on.

“As to how you go about suspending your rules, I’m not sure how that can be done. That’s one of the things I will be looking at. The SFA would not have a role in suspending the SPL’s rules. That would be a matter for the SPL.

“I think the important thing is the clubs decide how they want to take this forward. Once this decision has been reached, then we will put it into place.”

Pressed on whether the rules could be suspended, Blair replied: “I need to go and have a look at our rules to find out.”

Hunger for league reform still strong despite clubs’ failure to find agreement

MANAGERS of Scottish Premier League clubs still have an appetite for change within Scottish football despite failure to reach agreement on league reconstruction plans.

St Mirren and Ross County vetoed proposals at an SPL meeting on Monday, which required an 11-1 majority to send the potential reforms to the Scottish Football League.

The plans would have seen both league bodies merge in a 12-12-18 structure with a pyramid system below, with the top two leagues to split into three sections of eight after 22 games.

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall said: “I can see it from both sides. I know behind the scenes there has been a lot of work done to try to get change. I can see a lot of good points. The only downside for me as a manager, after 22 games, it is slightly early to decide.

“Everyone thinks of Ross County this season. I think at one time they were tenth and now they have a chance of getting into Europe.

“The pressure is on the managers to get into the top six after 33 games but you can accept that, it is a good part into the season.

“But to get the chance to fight for the right to get into Europe after 22 games is too early. If you have a few injuries early on then it will detract.

“I can understand Ross County’s chairman talking about trying to sell season tickets after 22 games because you don’t know where you will be. But, likewise, I know the effort and time put in by a lot of people to come up with something positive for the game.

“There has been some really good games this season but the crowds have still gone down, so something has to change in a way.

“But I am not one for shooting things down when I haven’t anything better to offer and I haven’t.

“Far brighter people than me have tried to come up with solutions and worked a lot harder to come up with solutions. It is unfortunate that something couldn’t be resolved.”

Hearts manager Gary Locke is also in favour of change and was disappointed by the failure to reach consensus. He said: “I wouldn’t say I was surprised the talks collapsed. Disappointed is a better word to use. I, like everybody else in Scotland, wanted to see change. It’s important that we do change but it has not happened and we will just need to get on with it.

“Could some of the things, like play-offs and a fairer share of the money, be introduced without the overall package?

“Possibly but that is for people above the position that I am in. I’m the manager of Heart of Midlothian and, from a personal point of view, it would be great to see change in Scottish football but it has not happened and there is nothing I can do about it. They have made their decision for now and we will just have to get on with it.”

Kilmarnock assistant manager Jimmy Nicholl said: “I wanted to understand why they (St Mirren and Ross County) voted against it so I had to sit down and read the reasons for it and they had good reasons. There were good things in the 12-12-18 as well.

“It certainly needs some sort of change. I’ve always said I would love a 16-team league and have the split with the top eight and the bottom eight. I’ve always fancied it.”

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