Peterhead urge SFL clubs to embrace reconstruction

PETERHEAD have urged fellow Scottish Football League clubs to embrace plans for league reconstruction for next season .

SFL clubs met at Hampden last week to discuss the proposals, which would include a merger of their organisation with the Scottish Premier League.

The SPL is set to vote on the issue on 15 April but 50 per cent of SFL members expressed concerns about the proposed 12-12-18 revamp being pushed through in time for the coming campaign.

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Peterhead now fear the SPL could take the proposals off the table completely, amid growing uncertainty over the best way forward for the Scottish game – including fears that First 
Division clubs would pursue an SPL2 in the event of the current proposals being rejected by the SFL.

A statement issued by chairman Rodger Morrison and vice-chairman Ian Grant read: “On behalf of the board of Peterhead Football Club we would like to urge [SPL chief executive] Neil Doncaster and [SFL chief executive] David Longmuir to meet further to discuss lingering doubts, and allay the doubts of those members who are concerned over the timescale of these proposals.

“We would also like to urge our fellow members of the SFL, who voted against the reconstruction and unified governing body plans, to please reconsider their position of requesting a further season of deliberations.

“In the past year, our leadership within the SFL over the Rangers saga and league reconstruction has been faultless. Now is the time to stand together and take this opportunity to revitalise our game and not give the SPL the option of walking away from these proposals.

“Major change, and especially football change, requires a leap of faith by all parties concerned. Status quo is not an option beyond this season if we are to bring excitement and competition back to our game.”

The Irn-Bru Third Division outfit are among those most concerned by the talk of an SPL2.

The statement added: “Clubs in the Second/Third Division have nothing to gain financially in the short term from ‘Reconstruction’. But we, as a club, must look at the wider picture and judge what is best for the future of our national game.

“If we risk a situation whereby the First Division clubs move to join the SPL, then it would spell disaster, and the opportunity to form one association to drive Scottish Football forward would be lost. The clubs that would remain would become a forgotten entity by media, sponsors and fans alike, and stifle ambitious clubs such as ourselves in making progress up the ladder.”

Falkirk chairman Martin Ritchie, meanwhile, has signalled that his club are ready to help push for an SPL2 if the SFL reject the reconstruction proposals.

Ritchie was left deeply concerned by last week’s SFL meeting and is adamant he cannot allow the present opportunity to “slip through our fingers”.

He has since held discussions with SFA chief executive Stewart Regan and president Campbell Ogilvie and, amid the breakdown of the consensus built just weeks ago, has urged the governing body to “take a role in getting the proposed changes over the line”.

Ritchie firmly believes there will be no second bite at the cherry if the 75 per cent majority required by the league teams is not achieved.

With Hamilton Accies chairman Les Gray vowing to lead a First Division revolt if the SFL votes ‘no’, Ritchie has confessed he was part of a breakaway meeting with SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster following last Thursday’s get-together.

He said: “At (last week’s) meeting, Neil Doncaster addressed all of the listed outstanding issues and it was apparent that all parties were very close to a final agreement and that there were no ‘show-stoppers’.

“He also reaffirmed that there is a desire for change now within the SPL and that if this moment is lost there may not be another opportunity.

“From my experience with the SPL, I believe this is the one chance for change.

“Following the meeting, I was one of a number of the First Division chairmen who arranged an ad hoc meeting of the nine First Division clubs present and, later, a meeting with these clubs and Neil Doncaster.

“We were agreed that the state of the full-time clubs in the First Division is deteriorating and that we need change now.

“I have been involved in league reconstruction discussions since the day we escaped relegation at Inverness in 2009 and this is the closest we have ever come to actually achieving change.

“If this cannot be achieved, the board owes it to our club and to our supporters that we pursue any other viable options.”