Monday, 17 January 2011

Don't fall for the SPL spin

If you listened only to Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster, you'd think that the SPL elite had their future pretty much sewn up after today's meeting at Hampden - which, we are told, "agreed" a plan for a ten-team top division, a twelve-team second tier... and to hell with the rest. Well, they didn't announce that last stanza, but that's clearly the idea. The 'diddy' teams just don't matter to the money men.

In practice, however, the situation remains rather more complicated ("chaotic" even, according to one paper), and there are still more public and private dissenters than will fit into the 10-2 voting requirement. Oh, and the Doncasterites don't actually have a worked-out or testable plan yet, either. (Oddly, this was the reason they gave for alternatives being "non-starters". The logic is a little hard to discern.)

But whatever the eventual plan they concoct (in around two months time) says, Mr Docaster has beneficently announced that SPL clubs "can give [it] their ringing endorsement", in a show of North Korean-style solidarity. This is because money and arm-twisting counts for more than principle or common sense in the kind of world he inhabits and fashions, it seems.

Meanwhile, of the SPL dissenters, Dundee United appear to have rolled over, but Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonian Thistle look like they will push for structural revisions, and Hearts managing director David Southern says that although there is insufficient support to pursue a larger top league, "We believe that serious consideration is now being given to a revised income distribution model which will allow for a more equitable distribution of monies in the game."

All very noble. But, of course, such redistribution will be among the top two divisions, not for the likes of Dumbarton or those below us. That's clear. The SPL elite and those they favour (in their own interests, not those of the larger Scottish game) are not going to deliver for the "minnows". Which is why it is up to the Scottish Football League clubs, who are currently faced with being frozen out altogether, to take their future into their own hands.

Among other things, that means coming up with some fresh ideas, and rejecting regional leagues run for the benefit of SPL reserve or 'B' teams - which is a recipe for losing a credible, professional game below the top 20 or 22 clubs.


Jack Deighton said...

I fear we may be talking to ourselves as far as this is concerned, Simon

Simon Barrow said...

I'll let you know after this coming weekend's Supporters Direct meeting, Jack. I don't think this story is over, by any means.