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Volume 6 No. 195

International Football

Scottish Premier League clubs said that "they have unanimously agreed to pursue an expansion of the top flight," according to the BBC. Representatives of all 12 clubs "met at Hampden to discuss reconstruction, in response to recent proposals from the Scottish Football League." SPL clubs "will meet again on Dec. 3 to debate the matter further." BBC Scotland revealed over the weekend that "the SPL was considering the creation of two divisions of 12 with an extended playoff system." And the SPL "would like to see the changes in place for the start of next season" (BBC, 11/19). The PA reported the plans "would see two leagues of 12 split into three divisions of eight after 22 games." However, they are "significantly different to proposals adopted by the 30 SFL clubs last week for a three-tier structure." SPL CEO Neil Doncaster said: "There is a view that we need to be expanding the top league to be looking after the whole of the professional game in Scotland, but also those clubs that aspire to be full-time professional clubs." Doncaster and SPL Chair Ralph Topping "will outline their proposals at upcoming meetings of the Scottish FA's professional game board later this month" (PA, 11/19). STV reported the clubs "have given full backing to change that would see the SPL expanded to include more teams, though no definitive timescale has been given for expansion." The move "is designed to minimise the financial disparity between the top-flight and the second tier of Scottish football and would have a new financial distribution model for clubs" (STV, 11/19).

SFL PLAN IS BEST: In Glasgow, James Traynor states it's "difficult to know the best place to begin, what to say or which group to support." There are so many people "whispering and cajoling and trying to gain backing for their ideas and plans, which they claim would make Scottish football better. Sadly, we’ve heard it all before." Traynor said of the SPL plan, "Frankly, though, this is intellect at a bungalow level. It isn’t clever, it isn’t radical and it isn’t new. Instead of thinking about the greater good of the game this is just another shoddy attempt by a handful of clubs, who see themselves as bigger than the reality suggests, to protect what they have at the moment." He continued: "But this is also about a stubborn refusal to accept there might be more intelligence within the SFL, that directors of smaller clubs can think on a grand scale. The attitude is insulting but if the SFL, who were left behind when the SPL was formed in 1998, remain united they can succeed with their proposal and bring an end to the SPL which has been shown to be shambolic and vindictive." The SFL’s "proposal isn’t perfect, but it is more radical and more intelligent than anything the top flight have come up with and it addresses the needs of fans." Also "weren’t the SPL clubs fond of telling everyone they had no choice but to listen to their supporters during the close season? Hopefully they’ll still be listening when the same fans tell them where to stick their SPL 2" (DAILY RECORD, 11/19).

The Supporters Direct group "has hailed Portsmouth's fan-backed takeover as 'a landmark' moment that will set a precedent for more clubs to be run by supporters in the future," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. The League One club is expecting its "ownership saga to be finalised by Christmas after the Portsmouth Supporters' Trust last week signed an agreement with administrators PKF, although the deal hinges on winning clearance to purchase Fratton Park." Supporters Direct, which was established 12 years ago, "has helped a number of clubs through the difficult transition into fan ownership, but believes Portsmouth will be a shining light for others due to their size and stature." A spokesperson said, "It is potentially a landmark for a club of this size to turn to this model and collectively look at the business advantage of not propping up revenue losses each year. Supporters, more than any other group -- more than the owners, managers and players that come and go -- make lifelong commitments to their clubs and invest in them on a long term basis. Their interests and motivation are simply different." The PST distributed its share prospectus on Monday, which encourages supporters to invest in the "most exciting 'fan ownership' project in the U.K." The trust "has already received significant funds from a number of wealthy supporters," named as presidents, who have invested directly into Portsmouth Community Football Club Ltd. -- the Public Limited Company that "will hold membership with the FA and the Football League" (GUARDIAN, 11/19).