Breaking of a 'new dawn' for our game

SCOTTISH football bosses last night hailed a historic deal to reconstruct the national game as a "new dawn".

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Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and David Longmuir are all backing the 12-12-18 proposal
Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and David Longmuir are all backing the 12-12-18 proposal

After more than four hours of talks at Hampden yesterday, Stewart Regan of the SFA, Neil Doncaster of the SPL, and David Longmuir of the SFL, emerged to back a 12-12-18 structure, with a pyramid system underneath.

Despite similar models in Austria in Switzerland proving unsuccessful, the future for the Scottish game is envisaged as two leagues of 12 which split into three leagues of eight after 22 games.

The top eight will fight for the title, the bottom four will join the top four in the second tier to contest promotion and relegation, with the bottom side in the bottom eight automatically relegated into the 18-team national league, where they could be joined by up to two sides through the play-offs.

There was unanimity amongst clubs that the restructure should not be used to accelerate the promotion of any club, including Rangers.

This would mean the Ibrox club would have to start in the national league even if they are crowned Irn-Bru third division champions.

Assuming the plans get the green light from both leagues' clubs in the next month or so, the new future for the Scottish game could be in place for the start of next season.

All 12 SPL clubs have already indicated their support for the proposal, while 75% of the SFL's contingent (22 of their 29 clubs as Rangers are still associate members and cannot vote) are required to give the plans the nod when they meet up in a fortnight.

The 12 top-flight clubs are thought to have given up a seven-figure sum in order to facilitate fairer redistribution of cash for the lower divisions and a softer landing should they end up there.

SPL boss Doncaster also hinted that stadium criteria could be relaxed.

"It is a new dawn, I think you would say, for Scottish football," said Regan.

"What's encouraged me most is that both sides have actually made concessions in order to make this happen.

"Neil's made comments that his clubs have given up a substantial seven-figure sum that's actually going to be shared through the rest of the game.

"Also the SFL have agreed to open up for the first time ever, subject to club consultation, and introduce a pyramid for the game. Both of those are huge concessions and they indicate there is a desire to change."

Doncaster added: "What it represents, amongst other things, is a huge redistribution of wealth down the leagues.

"The bigger clubs are giving up a lot of money to fund, particularly the gap between the top 12 and the second 12 that exists at the moment and insuring a trickle down of wealth for the whole game.

"There is a genuine desire to ensure that sporting merit is the basis on which clubs fill the positions."

Should they endorse the plans, the SFL clubs would be giving up their previous support for a 16-10-16 structure.

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