Robbie Neilson: No point in 16-team top flight talk

Robbie Neilson. Picture: SNS

Robbie Neilson. Picture: SNS

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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson thinks Falkirk are wasting their time calling for a 16-team top flight.

Falkirk, who sit just behind Rangers and Hibernian in the Ladbrokes Championship table, have argued that Scottish football needs to expand the Premiership to save attendances from falling and help Scotland’s performances on the international stage.

At the end of the day it comes down to money and TV revenue

Robbie Neilson

Hearts won the Championship last season and now sit second in the Premiership table but Neilson feels a 30-game league would not work.

Speaking ahead of the sell-out Tynecastle clash with Dundee, Neilson said: “Every two years we look at something different, don’t we? A 10-team league, a split here and split there.

“At the end of the day it comes down to money and TV revenue. The bigger league you have, the less big games you have and the less revenue for clubs.

“We take big crowds to away games two times a season. Teams would only get that once. We could sit here and say we want to do this and that, but ultimately it comes down to the revenue.

“In a football sense it would be great to have more teams but these teams have to be at a level where they can compete and where people want to come and watch.

“I think it can become predictable but it comes back to finances.”

One of the advantages of a bigger league would be to allow managers to blood young players with the threat of relegation eased for several teams.

“It might help where you probably have teams in mid-table that don’t have the pressure of getting relegated but sometimes these games become meaningless and people don’t turn up to watch them and you lose finances,” Neilson said.

“Idealistically you have a huge league and teams can blood young players but it’s not going to be like that because we don’t have enough teams with the finances to compete every week.

“There is pressure on football managers, it’s a results business. But if you have a board that understands you want to develop players then it’s easier.

“But players have to be at a level where they can come in and do the business. We are lucky here that we have young players that can come in and play.”

The renewed league reconstruction debate comes as Scotland boss Gordon Strachan and others at the Scottish Football Association continue looking at ways of improving the youth development system.

Neilson said: “I think everyone’s being really negative about it. Okay we have had a couple of bad results in Europe and not qualified for the Euros but things aren’t going to change overnight. The German model took 10 years and we are hoping for something to happen in a year and a half.

“I think there’s a lot of good young players coming through. Scotland Under-19s did great in Ireland over the weekend and the under-21s have a lot of good players. We need to be patient and stop changing it all the time. It’s going to take seven or eight years before we get there.”

Hearts face their predecessors as Championship winners on Saturday as Paul Hartley brings his Dundee side to Tynecastle.

“Paul has started the season really well and built a decent team,” Neilson said. “It will be a tough one. Paul was a huge player here and I’m sure he will get a good reception from the fans but hopefully we get the three points.”

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