Doncaster: meeting should offer insight into way ahead
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:10
By Richard Wilson, The Herald.
Neil Doncaster, the chief executive of the Scottish Premier League, admits the SPL faces being stuck in a rut if the member clubs cannot come to an agreement on how to reconstruct the top flight.
The 12 member teams will meet on Monday to discuss the issue, with a proposed vote on Doncaster's plan for a 10-club league and merging with the Scottish Football League unlikely to happen since there is not enough support for that plan.
Any structural change of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League requires an 11-1 vote in favour, but some clubs favour a 14-team set-up, which would still require a mid-season split and would also create some meaningless games between sides in the middle of the table. With a 16-team league not financially viable, according to Doncaster, and the current set-up considered past redeeming, the only other option is a 10-team league.
"The status quo will continue to exist until we get an agreement on the way forward," Doncaster says. "But it's my strong view that we have a plan that all our clubs buy into. Particularly in this financial environment, we need a plan for taking the game forward.
"We don't know how many clubs are yes or no. The meeting should be useful in terms of flushing out what people want. There's a real acceptance that we need to change, the key issue is what that change is. We're just trying to find a consensus."
Doncaster was speaking yesterday at the latest in a series of Glasgow Talks seminars held by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, supported by Clydesdale Bank and the University of Glasgow. With attendances falling, and a new television deal to be negotiated at the end of the season, this is a critical time for the SPL.
Member clubs are disagreeing over not only the league's size, but also how revenue is distributed. "If we bring in a new model that generates more money for the lower divisions, it's important that there's an acceptance that the decision-making needs to be driven by the bigger commercial entities," he says.
Doncaster also feels that, following Uefa's decision to investigate sectarian singing among Rangers supporters at a recent Europa League match, the efforts of clubs to tackle the problem has been overlooked.
"One of the things that is regrettable is the lack of focus on the really good things our clubs are doing to combat sectarianism," he says. "They're working very hard with groups of youngsters. There is a lot of positive activity going on."