Monday, January 10, 2011

The SPL: Twelve Does Not Become Ten. For Now

“Scottish Premier League officials have been forced into a tactical retreat in their campaign to cut the number of clubs in the top flight from 12 to ten. That reduction was due to be the subject of a vote at a meeting of SPL clubs next Monday, but the vote has now been postponed in the face of mounting opposition.”

It seems that the SPL, self declared saviours of the Scottish game, can’t even push through a gerrymandered vote on a ten team league.

Despite assurances from SPL chief executive and chairman, Neil Doncaster and Ralph Topping, that ten teams was the only way to save the game the clubs have so far proved themselves unwilling to be saved.

Dundee United had already voiced their reservations while Hearts have seemed consistently unmoved by the plans. Inverness, Motherwell and Kilmarnock were also uncertain.

Now it seems that St Mirren and Motherwell have joined the list of doubters. All the more remarkable when we remember that they were both represented on the SPL working group that formulated the ten team plan in the first place.

That would appear to leave five teams in favour or undeclared with Hamilton joining the other four members of the working group: Aberdeen, Celtic, Hibs and Rangers. It’s those four clubs, or their representatives, that we must now presume to be the movers and shakers in one of the most universally unpopular ideas to hit Scottish football for years.

The ten team SPL isn’t dead. But nor is it as close as Topping and Doncaster had hoped.

Let’s not celebrate this too much. There has been no, or at least not a very big, victory for fan power. Rather the SPL have displayed the kind of incompetence and cack handedness that we tend to expect from our football administrators.

There does seem some hope though that not all the chairmen were taken in by a plan that, from this distance, seemed flimsy and so full of supposition as to be no more than a shot in the dark.

Our problems remain and a solution still needs to be found. The ten team SPL will be back. For now it’s up to someone to come up with a more attractive plan. Our breath is bated.

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