THE SPL: what does the future hold?

Last updated : 21 December 2010 By Allys Army

Who knows how the league will look in ten years time, if it still exists at all, but one thing is for sure - the current format does need revised.


My stance on this is very clear as I think what we have just now works perfectly well, however, as recent times have shown - we simply cannot cope with winter football. We have had many suggestions including a ten team league, an eighteen team league and more recently Stephen Thompson's "Play-off for the SPL title". I am going to try to have a look at these and pick the pros and cons and we will see who agrees. First - lets discuss Stephen Thompson's idea. 


A "play-off". I cannot help think everyone outside Rangers and Celtic will want this introduced as it would see anyone between first and fourth position having a chance of winning the Championship. If Thompson's proposal was to go through it would mean that the team who finish top would not necessarily be champions; instead it would see a two-legged 'semi-final' between first and fourth and second and third, and then a final at Hampden to decide the winner. The Sun has Thompson quoted saying his idea is worth at least "£4,000,000" in revenue. If you ask me this is the worst idea put forward yet. 


A Play-off is acceptable in lower leagues if it is for promotion - but to have a play off in top flight football, to me, is laughable. With the difference between first and fourth in the SPL last season being 33 points - surely a play off giving 4th the chance to be crowned Scotland's Premier Team is out of the question? 


On to the ten team league proposal. I do not think this will help anything, cutting the league down will not make it more interesting, In fact, it will give smaller clubs a loss of revenue. Who wants to watch their team play nine other teams three or four times a season? It's bad enough just down with 12 teams. I do not see how this will significantly benefit - it could make relegation battles a little more interesting but nothing will change at the top whatsoever. Not much has been said about the ideas for a ten team league - which can only mean not many clubs are in favour. 


This leads on to a LARGER league. I think in this case, an 18 team league has an upside and a downside. It will bring benefits for new teams, a change in the away days and playing the same teams less in one season. But I think that the introduction of six clubs from the lower divisions is a very bad idea. These clubs are in the lower divisions for a reason and to just grant them promotion would be ridiculous. This would also affect first, second and third division accordingly, and again - it will not change anything at the top of the table. So just who would want this idea to go ahead? Well obviously teams at lower ends of the table or teams facing relegation such as Aberdeen, Hamilton and St Mirren. This would give them the chance of staying up for seasons to come. 


My point of view: I think that the League is fine the way it is, however we should work it around the winter so that games are NOT being played during the months of November, December and January (A summer season, if you like). Anyone who disagrees with this just has to look at the current fixture congestion... this is a clear sign of problems - and I don't think the problem lies wholly with the current format, but with the current dates at which the league ends and resumes.


Any arguments about the league not being 'competitive enough' are weakened if you just look at the season so far - Hearts are playing some nice football, as are Motherwell, which could show signs of promise from smaller clubs. 


The only other way around this is a European League for Rangers and Celtic or a move to the premiership, both which have already been discussed and looks like neither will ever happen, but that's a whole different article!