SCOTTISH Football League chief executive David Longmuir has broadly welcomed the revised reconstruction proposal announced by the Scottish Premier League but insists it will be a “tough call” to put it in place for the start of next season.
Longmuir has called a meeting of the SFL board for today in response to the new plan. He is unhappy at the SPL stating a 42-club solution is being pursued “in line with the stated preference of SFL1 clubs”, a clear reference to the threat from the rebel ten clubs last Friday to resign from the SFL if the opporunity came to join the SPL.
Having battled consistently to ensure any new structure encompasses and benefits all 42 senior clubs, Longmuir again pointed out that it was the SPL clubs who scuppered the previous reconstruction proposal last month.
“They mention the stated preference of SFL1 clubs, I think that’s possibly a mistake,” said Longmuir. “It should say the stated preference of the SFL but that’s maybe not how they want it to come across.
“The SFL have always embraced a single merged league of 42 clubs as we did when the Henry McLeish report came out two years ago. There has been nothing in anything we’ve done which has stated anything other than that we want a 42-club solution. So I’m not sure where that comes from.
“12-10-10-10? That’s what we have at the moment and we have very successful play-offs between the third, the second and first divisions.
“To have that format replicated in some way between the Premier and the First would be a good thing. I’ve always said that, it’s exactly what we asked for last week through the SFA’s Professional Game Board.
“An all-through distribution model is part of the original five-part package agreed by the SFA, SPL and ourselves in January. A pyramid system, just to make it clear, would come in at the end of 2014-15 and it would be a play-off for position 42 only, that would be the very first step. Play-offs involving team 11 in SPL and teams 2, 3 and 4 in the division below, that’s fine, but the format would have to be agreed.
“In terms of timing we publish fixtures in about six weeks’ time. This is a tough call in terms of getting everything in place but in general I will speak to the board of the SFL tomorrow morning and get their reaction.
“We are back to square one again here – an 11-1 vote is still to be confirmed by the SPL before an SFL special general meeting to agree the full package. These take time and effort to arrange and they are governed by lead times in terms of getting them in place.
“We have 14 days’ notice normally for us. Given that a lot of the work has already been done on governance and rule book and articles, the major change here is that it’s now the same structure as we have at the moment with play-offs.
“My clubs will still feel that this is a very tough challenge in terms of timescale but it will be the 11-1 vote which determines whether this gets to my clubs.
“That’s the key issue here. It’s an interesting change, a similar package but it’s a different structure. I’ve always been a fan of play-offs, we have play-offs we’ve run them for many years. We’re just about to enter into our play-off season. I think play-offs is a step in the right direction. It’s a breakthrough.
“It’s an enhancement to the previous package, in terms of play-offs. It’s whether or not all the other elements are deliverable in time. I’m not too fussed about the timescale on the merger of the leagues. I agree on the principle of a merger, but it should not necessarily be driven by a deadline. There’s a huge amount of work in that. The rest is all possible.”
Asked if he’d be interested in being chief executive of any merged body, Longmuir, said: “I like the folk I work with just now. That’s all I’m saying.
“They are good people with the game at heart and I like representing them, including the clubs.
“If you go back to the McLeish report, it said the SFL voice must be heard. We have maintained that and I think that’s only fair. We have 30 members, some full-time, some part-time, some a combination of both.
“Trying to accommodate that in one body with an all-through distribution model is a challenge at times, as they have different income streams and different mentalities in terms of where they want to take their clubs.”