Scottish football revamp: Rugby has experience of 8-8-8

The contentious 8-8-8 split proposed for the top two divisions of Scottish football is not a new concept, but the jury remains out on whether or not it has been successful, writes.

Rugby’s RBS Premiership used an identical format last season, and Watsonians president Paul Di Rollo was disappointed it wasn’t allowed to 
continue beyond its pilot campaign.

“I thought it was a good set-up and a fair way of doing it. It also gave every team a good, genuine opportunity to prove they were worthy of going into the league above.

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“In a conventional league the team getting promoted is not always necessarily better than the team getting relegated but, with this format, the teams battling for promotion have already taken part in an eight-team league where they can prove whether or not they are capable of competing with the teams from the league above. I found it very competitive in all sections.

The main reason rugby beaks shelved the 8-8-8 approach appears to have been that clubs felt they didn’t have enough time to plan for and market some of their post-split games and consequently lost out on hospitality revenue.

Swiss and Austrian football adopted similar models in the early part of the last decade. The consensus seems to be that Swiss football is in a more prosperous state in terms of finance and attendance since it banished the 
8-8-8 system to revert to two straightforward leagues of ten with the teams simply playing each other four times a season.

The league may be in a healthier state as a result of becoming more compact but Peter Birrer, a Swiss football writer for Tages Anzeiger, feels it was far more exciting in the days of 8-8-8. He told the Evening News: “It was always very spectacular to see all the teams fight to get into the top eight.”