All 12 of Scotland's top-flight clubs "have given their 'unanimous backing' to plans for a revamped 12-12-18 Scottish league structure," according to the PA. Scottish Premier League CEO Neil Doncaster revealed that "consensus had been achieved at a meeting of the 12 clubs at Hampden on Monday." Scottish Football League clubs "will meet to discuss the proposals, which include a merger of the two bodies, on Thursday." Doncaster said: "We got unanimous backing of the way forward today so it now goes to Thursday, and the Scottish Football League clubs will have their views." The plans "were originally backed by SPL clubs last year before Doncaster stepped up talks with his SFL counterparts." However, some clubs which were not involved in the previous meeting "had requested more information amid scepticism from fans but they appear to have been satisfied" Monday (PA, 1/28). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported the plans, if approved by the SFL clubs, "would see both leagues merge and a fairer distribution of income, along with a pyramid system that would allow clubs to move into the professional league." The SFL "needs 22 of its clubs to back the plans with Rangers not allowed to vote as they are only associate members" (DAILY RECORD, 1/28). The BBC's Chris McLaughlin wrote Doncaster insisted that "the mood of the meeting had been positive." Doncaster said, "It was a good discussion. It's always a robust discussion between SPL clubs, but a positive one" (BBC, 1/28).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates believes that "the universities sector is the missing link in Australian sport and one that could take up the slack of federal government funding cutbacks," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. While "staying well above the internal debate raging in Australian rugby about the re-establishment of a third-tier competition, Coates took sharp note of the Rugby Union Players Association's proposal to link such a competition to nine major Australian universities." The idea "resonated with him." Coates said, "I have long believed that the missing link now in Australian sport is tapping into the universities sector. With all the resources they have and I've seen in some sports like rowing, it's very much the backbone of the sport. It has that potential across many other sports." Coates "has no firm statistics to support the theory," but anecdotal evidence portray that "university participation by elite athletes might have plateaued or even gone into decline." Many of the country's top athletes "seem to be taking the option of deferring university study until after they have retired in order to concentrate exclusively on reaching the top in their sports" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/29).
Football execs were given a 12-month deadline "to implement radical corporate governance reforms" by a select committee of MPs who said that fans "had a right to know who owned their clubs," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The committee threatened "statutory regulation" if its demand was not met. The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee issued its ultimatum at the "culmination of a wide-ranging inquiry into the way the game is run that has dragged on for more than two years." In its 93-page report, a response to joint proposals for change put forward by the Premier League, the Football League and the FA nearly a year ago, the cross-party committee "reserved its strongest criticism for a lack of engagement with supporters and a failure to control clubs taking financial risks." The report called on the government "to set up a working group of experts by the start of next season to help remove barriers to supporter ownership." This would include practical approaches to raising capital, buying shares and defending against compulsory purchase orders of their minority stakes. It also said that the Premier League and Football League had a “duty” to provide the identities of the owners of their clubs to the FA, which in turn should make the information public. The report states, "We remain unconvinced that the ultimate owners of football clubs require their anonymity to be preserved either from or by the football authorities. The current situation, which denies fans the right to know who owns their club, is highly unsatisfactory.” (LONDON TIMES, 1/29).