Thompson says opposition will stop SPL reform

By Gordon Tynan
Thursday 06 January 2011 01:00

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson insists three clubs share United's view that the Scottish Premier League reconstruction proposal is not workable in the current format and may abstain from this month's vote.

All 12 top-flight clubs met at Hampden on Tuesday to discuss plans for league reconstruction amid other radical reforms, including an earlier start to the season, a winter break and the re-introduction of play-offs.

Afterwards the SPL chairman, Ralph Topping, and chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed to be optimistic the plan to have an SPL One and Two with 10 teams in each division would be ratified at the next meeting on 17 January. An 11-1 vote is required to push the proposal through.

Thompson was absent from the discussions but has spoken with representatives from three separate clubs who were present. He said: "I know there's certainly another three clubs who are against the current proposals. It's up to us to stand firm in what we believe in. If we believe it's not right, then we won't vote for it.

"Or rather than not vote for it, which means voting against change, abstain, which is as good as a no vote anyway. In the current format I don't think it's going to happen, unless something dramatic changes within the proposals."

A strategic review group featuring Topping, Doncaster and representatives from six clubs – Hibernian, St Mirren, Motherwell, Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen – formulated the proposals following research by Doncaster, who believes a 10-team top flight is the only proposal which can deliver on a financial basis.

However, like Dundee United, Hearts are believed to remain unconvinced by the plans and Thompson called for further discussion. He said: "Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good things that the Strategic Review Group have come up with, but I'm certainly not going to vote for it in its current format.

"I think there's a lot of good things in it, a lot of good things that could happen without changing everything, but it seems to be take it all or nothing. Distribution of wealth in the SPL hasn't been addressed in the slightest."

The reconstruction would favour Rangers and Celtic, with eight teams battling it out to avoid automatic relegation and a relegation play-off, according to Thompson. Such a format would arguably discourage managers from selecting younger players and may make it difficult for the non-Old Firm clubs.

"It's not a very good ratio to be involved in," Thompson added. "If I went to the bank and said 'Instead of having a one in 10 chance, we've now got a one in eight chance of getting relegated', then the bank would just laugh at me."

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