Football: Scottish elite admit two new members - David McKinney on the football Super League in conflict with authority north of the border

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The Independent Online
THE founder members of the Scottish Super League raised their number to 10 yesterday and in the process closed the membership on Scotland's elite band of clubs.

Dunfermline and Partick Thistle were the final two clubs to be admitted, taking the number to the agreed total for the new league whose board again insisted that the league will become a reality.

Such confidence seemed misplaced in view of earlier events in a busy day when the Scottish Football Association issued a statement to the effect that the Super League members were acting illegally in breaking away from the Scottish League. The SFA executive committee stated that the Scottish Super League is 'an unauthorised body' and continued: 'As such the SFA is not in a position to have dialogue of any matter with a body which is not recognised as a football body in terms of Article 73.'

Article 73 states that no league can be formed without the consent of the SFA or affiliated national association and without such consent the Super League would be unofficial and its members unable to compete in European competition.

Clearly SFA approval is imperative for the 10, but the response from the Super League was an unexpected one. Rather than form a huddle with lawyers to discuss its next move, a spokesman made light of the situation saying: 'The statement was a case of the SFA operating by their own rules. They have not yet had the opportunity of studying our articles of association and rules. But now that we are up to strength they will have that opportunity and we are 100 per cent certain that they will see the advantage a Super League will give the game in Scotland.'

Yesterday's decision to include Dunfermline and Partick Thistle was a unanimous one, although the board made it clear that the competition from Dundee and Airdrieonians made it no less easy.

To give Dundee, Airdrie and other ambitious clubs the chance eventually to join the elite, the board of the Scottish Super League yesterday contacted the Scottish League to inform it that the 10 club chairmen involved wish to meet with the League as a matter of urgency. The prospect of promotion and relegation will also be on the agenda.

For the first time since they published their proposals in June, those involved with changing the face of Scottish football gave consideration to those clubs outside the top league. Their statement continued: 'The SSL does not want to see any small club which gives pleasure in its own community disappear. However in the long run and with declining investment in the game this eventuality is much more likely to happen within the present set-up. Under our proposals radical changes at the top will filter down to other leagues offering more incentives to both clubs and their supporters.'

With the future of the Scottish game in mind the Scottish Super League issued a plan of action which includes continuing effort to meet with the Scottish Football League, presenting the SFA with its articles of association and rules, finalising the playing format, continuing negotiations with potential sponsors, and keeping an open door for clubs interested in future association.

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