Huge majority of fans oppose ten-team top flight, survey reveals

AN OVERWHELMING 88 per cent of football fans oppose the proposed reduction of the premier league to ten teams, with a staggering 92.5 per cent angry that supporters have not been adequately consulted on the revamp.

With the 12 SPL clubs due to meet this week to vote on the idea of forming two top leagues of ten in a bid to cut the financial gap between the elite sides and most ambitious clubs in the current First Division, fans, managers and players are disgruntled that, once again, their views have not been taken into consideration, with all three groups vehemently opposed to the structure which is currently favoured by the club chairmen.

More than three quarters of nearly 5,000 fans who took part in an online survey, commissioned by Supporters Direct Scotland from 17-22 December, opted for a league of either 16 or 18 teams, with the strength of opinion pretty consistent between those who support the current Scottish Premier League sides and those who back teams in the Scottish Football League.

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"It is critical that the paying fan's voice is heard in the current debate," said Supporters Direct Scotland development manager James Proctor.

"These results show that while supporters welcome some of the changes proposed - play-offs between the top two leagues, a winter break and an earlier start to the season - the clear message from this survey is that supporters want leagues to be made larger, not smaller, and that they want to be consulted about the decisions that affect the future of football in Scotland.

"While the issue of league reconstruction is uppermost in people's minds, we should remember that Henry McLeish's report clearly called for greater involvement of fans in the national organisation and for fans to be represented in the important decisions in Scottish football.

"The results of the fans' survey back these recommendations and we look forward to working with the football authorities to ensure they are achieved."

Adding credence to the fans' stance are the chairman of the Scottish League Managers' Association, Alex Smith, and his counterpart at the Professional Footballers' Association Scotland, Jack Ross.

They claimed that their members are also unhappy at both the proposed size of the top flight and the lack of dialogue, and they say they would support moves for a working group which would include representatives from all areas of the game, including the supporters.

The survey was promoted via online forums, club websites and various media outlets.

In all there were 4,931 respondents and the results were independently analysed to ensure the validity of the data.

The SPL refused to comment on the findings of the survey.


JANUARY 2, 2011