Football: Elite object to change

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The Independent Online
Scotland's leading clubs yesterday put paid to the proposal for a 16-team Premier Division next season.

The Scottish League management committee scrapped plans to put a 16-12- 12 divisional plan to a vote of all clubs at the end of the current campaign. Now Scottish football must wait to see what the future holds after a meeting in Edinburgh yesterday between chairmen of the top 10 clubs.

The 16-12-12 plan, originally put forward by Jack Steedman of Clydebank, is now doomed to failure and the matter will not even be raised at the League's annual meeting on 31 May.

"The Premier Division representatives on the management committee indicated they would vote against the proposal en masse and it was decided there was little point in it going forward," the Scottish League secretary, Peter Donald, said. "They also informed us the Premier Division clubs have decided to appoint management consultants and a report will be received at a later date."

The Rangers chairman, David Murray, and his Celtic counterpart, Fergus McCann, are very much at the heart of the plans for a "Premiership", styled on the English example. The top clubs want more control over negotiations with sponsors and television companies - areas in which current contracts expire at the end of next season.

The loan system - common in England - may be reintroduced in the Scottish League, which will be asked at its annual meeting next month to approve clubs being allowed to five players on loan per season as long as three are under-21 age-group players.

There are various provisions written in the proposal to prevent any club having any more than four players on loan at the same time. Those over 21 must be at the club for more than one month but for less than three months - but the younger players can stay longer.

Donald said: "This would mean a major club giving a player on loan to a club in a lower division so that the boy could gain experience. It would help youth development."

Heart of Midlothian have been rebuffed once again in their attempt to play Rangers at Murrayfield on Sunday 11 May instead of at Tynecastle Park the previous day as scheduled.

The Edinburgh club wanted to switch because of redevelopment work at Tynecastle which, they say, will leave them without a police observation box. But the League will not allow a switch of the fixture, saying all last-day games must be played on the same afternoon.

Hearts have now been told to install a temporary police box or come up with another venue.