Scottish Football Structure

The current set-up in Scottish football is moronic. For those who may be hazy on the details:
* Top division is SPL. 12 teams. 1 team is relegated.
* SFL run the next three divisions, each of 10 teams.
* One team promoted from Division One.
*  One team relegated from Division One.
* Ninth team in Division One plays a playoff with 2nd, 3rd, 4th in Division Two.
* Same system operates between Divisions Two and Three.
* There is no relegation from Division Three.
* In each division teams play one another four times.
* And there’s the super crazy split at the three quarters point of the SPL season to dictate who your last set of games is against. After 33 games, the division is split into two halves. The teams then just play once more against the teams in their half. And the teams are fixed in their half, so the 7th place team usually finishes with more points than the 6th place team. [THIS IS NOT A JOKE. THIS IS THE GENUINE STRUCTURE OF LEAGUE FOOTBALL].

All of the above makes my head hurt with its stupidity. Every season is like groundhog day with minimal turnover in teams, and multiple meetings against one another. And the very bottom end is a closed shop.

Regardless of the Rangers issue, the entire Scottish football system needs to be entirely revamped. And a solution should be found for that, over and above any Rangers issues.

There are 42 teams across the SPL and SFL. There are only just over 20 proper-sized football clubs in Scotland (clubs with crowds of 1000 or more). The rest are amateur-sized munchkins.

They need to stop the playing one another four times per season. They need to become a real league, a sensible amount of proper-sized teams playing one another twice per season.

All the leagues need to be run by one body. A new body with all new staff. Purge the morons of the SPL. And draw up a whole new set or rules and league regulations. Particularly with clear rules on punishments for financially mismanaged teams, administrations, CVAs, dual contracts, and liquidations. And paying keen attention to rules around suspensions and match officials’ working conditions and neutrality.
And perhaps also even do something similar with the personnel, structure, rules and regulations of the SFA. Make the new ruling bodies genuinely independent and non-partisan. Rid the league’s ruling body and the SFA of any perceived Old Firm bias of one direction or other.

The structure of the leagues is the most important part. It is difficult to get right though with the limited number of proper size teams. This is how I feel it should be laid out, with proper size divisions and sporting integrity:

* One top national division of 18 teams. With two teams relegated per season.

* Then a second national division of 18 teams. The top team promoted. And then 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th have full playoffs to decide promotion of one to the top division.
And two teams are relegated from the second national division.

Then a regionalised pyramid structure of amateur or semi-professional clubs below all of that.

The only flaw in that is a weak 2nd division, but that is pretty unavoidable. And you would hope that all the aforementioned improvements to Scottish football would lead to an improvement in the attendances, finances and playing quality of the likes of Ayr, Berwick, etc.

For me the restructuring should be entirely regardless of the Rangers situation, but with the above scenario I would place Rangers in Division Two with a substantial points penalty for at least one season. But this isn’t about Rangers.

Scottish football needs root and branch reform, a blank piece of paper and an entirely new league structure. And it needs to be created with sporting integrity, regardless of the Rangers issue, and without bullying or media-grandstanding.

The SPL and SFL have emailed the SFL clubs with their own pair of proposals, but they both sound regressive and bad for the game

The SFL clubs seem in no mood to be railroaded by the authorities, so we’ll see how all this mania pans out.

Turbulent times for Scottish football.

by @tom7p

Follow us on twitter @feetballsblog

1 comment
  1. I’ll be honest, I like the split.
    I know it’s mental, but it gives you higher quality games at the end of the season. It also means that no teams have the advantage of being more likely to qualify for Europe/survive relegation because of easy fixtures at the end of a long season while their rivals have to play big games.
    Then again, it would have robbed us of the wonderful drama of Wigans survival this year, beating Arsenal, Spurs and almost Chelsea on the way to survival.
    I’ve talked myself back on to the fence.

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