Thursday, January 13, 2011

14 Is The Magic Number?

Time to sit up and take notice folks. The Daily Record has launched a campaign.

Fed up with Neil Doncaster's increasingly forlorn mission to build a brave new, decagonal Jerusalem in our green and pleasant land, the Record is calling for a 14 team SPL. It is, ladies and gentleman, the future of Scottish football as imagined by Jim Traynor.

It's not actually a new idea but the Record have decided to claim it.

The proposal is a 14 team league with each club playing twice. Then a split, right down the middle, into two sections of seven. Another two rounds of fixtures. 38 games a season. But the seven-seven split gives each club two free weekends after the split. Relegation will remain automatic for the bottom club with the 12th and 13th placed sides joining the runners up and third placed teams from the First Division in a play-off for the remaining spot.

Obviously this retains the split which has hardly been embraced by supporters since it was introduced. It also means, depending on the fixtures, clubs might be sitting out the final weekend of the season when their title hopes, European dreams or relegation fears are decided.

Not too long ago it looked like we might be about to adopt a 14 team league and a lot of clubs seemed in favour. That was before the SPL sent out their ten teams good, any other possible configuration of teams mentioned by anyone bad edict.

At least the Record are re-airing the 14 team debate. It seems unlikely that Doncaster, Ralph Topping or the SPL working group would get round to it without a kick up the backside.

It's not perfect. But maybe it is a compromise to work towards. A minority, albeit a powerful minority, want 10 teams, most fans want an expansion. But it seems unlikely the clubs will go for 16 or 18 teams.

Maybe this imperfect compromise is a workable solution.

But will it be any better? Too often in Doncaster's attempts to sell his ten team utopia I felt he was relying too much on assumptions about revenue and that his underlying argument was "well, it can't be any worse than what we've got."

Even if that were true it is not a persuasive argument. Does the same apply to a 14 team league?

I'm still undecided. I'd appreciate your views.

If it was me I'd argue for two up, two down and an extra place to be decided in a play off between the third bottom side and third and fourth in the SPL. That would be a way of ensuring a certain freshness every season.

But, as I say, undecided. Over to you.

The Scottish Football Blog News Feed

1 comment:

  1. The SFL should take a look at the models used by the Portuguese League and the Irish Premier League. A 16-team top flight would expose more Scottish players to higher quality competition while lowering the number of league games to 30, and thus reducing the cost of running the clubs. They can also arrange the fixture list so that congestion is avoided during UCL/Europa League matchdays. The only proposed drawback to this system is that the OF clubs wouldn't visit each ground twice during the league season. However, this can be countered with deeper cup runs and the increased hope for European competition.

    The SPL would also do well to investigate moving to a March-November season like the IPL. They could enjoy less TV competition, and therefore increased TV money, during the English summer break and give clubs more time to scout and evaluate top Scottish players. The SFL can work on the fixture list to take advantage of the English season (i.e. an OF and/or Edinburgh derby the day of the FA Cup Final). Plus, the winter break would prevent late season congestion and the wild postponements which have plagued the leagues the past few seasons.

    These ideas would help not only the clubs improve the quality of the league and their European coefficient, but it could also help the national team as top players could get picked up by EPL teams and learn from, and compete with, the best players in the world.