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SBD Global/June 13, 2013/International Football

Scottish Football Leagues To Combine After Smaller Clubs Back Reconstruction Plan

The SFL has been "swallowed up" by SPL after clubs vote to form new league.
Scottish football clubs "will be reunited in a new professional league next season after smaller teams backed a plan designed to spread limited revenues more evenly," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The agreement "reverses a breakaway by top clubs to form the Scottish Premier League" 15 years ago, and "will allow more money to filter down to the second tier." Scottish Football League clubs "approved the changes on Wednesday, marking the end of the road for a league body set up in 1890." The shake-up "has already won the blessing of SPL teams." The main change that fans will notice "is the introduction of end-of-season play-offs to decide one of the places in the top division." The current structure of a 12-team top flight and three lower divisions of top 10 teams "each will remain" (REUTERS, 6/12).

MAJORITY VOTE: The SCOTSMAN reported "a minimum of 22 of the 29 SFL clubs eligible to vote -- Rangers did not get a vote as they are associate members having joined last summer -- were needed to push reconstruction proposals through." Amid a background of acrimony surrounding the vote and with the ever-present threat of a breakaway by the first division clubs, 23 clubs voted yes with six against. SFL CEO David Longmuir admitted "there was some sadness behind the end of his organisation," saying, "yes and those feelings are heartfelt.” He "also conceded that there were many misgivings among the clubs, even those who had voted yes." Longmuir: “But nevertheless a lot of them have seen it for the good of the game and we all accept that Scottish football is better governed under one roof" (SCOTSMAN, 6/12).

TAKING OVER: The HERALD SCOTLAND reported the SFL ended 123 years of its history by being "swallowed up" by the SPL. It was "widely perceived that the new governing body -- to be called the Scottish Professional Football League -- would be the result of a merger," but SFL President Jim Ballantyne was "strident when asked if he felt it was more of a takeover." Ballantyne: "It is not a feeling, it is a fact. It is a takeover. We are joining their company, their organization. They have swallowed us up. We could use nice words about it, but it is a takeover" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 6/12). In Glasgow, Parks & Ralston reported the Scottish FA and First Division clubs were accused of “shafting” lower league outfits. Scottish Third Division Annan Chair Henry McClelland "rounded on First Division clubs and slammed them for selling out on lower league clubs," who are set to be up to 25% worse off under the new system. McClelland: “I only hope the conscience of the First Division clubs is clear. They have shafted their peers in the second and third division, who have done nothing wrong whatsoever" (DAILY RECORD, 6/12).

RANGERS CLOCK TICKING: The SCOTSMAN reported the SFA "will decide by the end of the month whether it will investigate links" between Rangers and former Owner Craig Whyte. SFA CEO Stewart Regan said that the SFA board would examine a report requested by the current Ibrox directors regarding allegations Whyte was involved in former CEO Charles Green’s bid to buy the club’s business and assets (SCOTSMAN, 6/12).
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