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Club reactions to League reconstruction 12-12-18 proposal vetoed

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The league reconstruction proposals for a 12-12-18 split have been rejected after two SPL clubs – St.Mirren and Ross County – voted against the plans to revamp the Scottish game.

Below are statements from clubs up and down the Scottish game [More added as they are published]:

Celtic Football Club

FOLLOWING today´s vote by the SPL clubs on league reconstruction proposals, Celtic have released the following statement.

Clearly we are disappointed that today’s proposals have not been voted through. We believe this is a huge missed opportunity for the whole of Scottish football.

We were pleased a number of months ago to have achieved unanimity across all clubs on the proposals for the way forward. We do not understand the rationale now offered for rejecting these proposals and the unwillingness to take the game forward positively. It is unfortunate that the vision shown by the vast majority of clubs is now not shared by all.

We believe these positive proposals would have fundamentally enhanced Scottish football for the future.

Neil Doncaster has an impossible job to do at times and he and his team have worked tirelessly to initiate positive change in Scottish football. They should be applauded for their efforts in this regard and we would like also to place on record our thanks to outgoing SPL Chairman, Ralph Topping.

We understand today’s events are unfortunate and the implications for the game will generate some uncertainty. However, Celtic has strong foundations and will look forward.

We have enjoyed a tremendous season, we are on the verge of securing back to back SPL titles and yesterday we ensured our place in this season’s Scottish Cup final. This, at the end of a season where we joined Europe’s elite as one of the top 16 clubs across the continent.

While we have not reached agreement on these proposals, our club is fundamentally in a very healthy position and now we move on. We thank our fans for their continued support as we move forward.´

Dundee United Football Club

Today saw Scottish Football miss a massive opportunity to move the game forward. The package that was voted on was a balanced package with many items that would have breathed new life into the game. The proposals would have attracted new sponsors and advertisers and, more importantly, encouraged more fans to attend the exciting and vibrant spectacle we are producing on the park, as was witnessed in the two William Hill Scottish Cup semi finals at the weekend.

I have stated publicly before that the proposals that were presented were not perfect, but that there were enough positive changes in the package for the overall good of the game. Merging two league bodies was a massive step forward, an all through distribution model supported other full time clubs in Scotland, and the introduction of play offs and a pyramid system, would have rewarded ambition at all levels of the senior game. The restructuring proposals also brought more meaningful games during the season with clubs always having something to play for.

At Dundee United we were not happy with a number of issues in the proposals, but we preferred instead to look at the undoubted benefits of the overall package for the game as a whole. It has taken years for clubs to agree a way forward and many individuals and groups have given up a considerable amount of their own time to bring the proposals forward. In doing so, they gained the support of the vast majority of SPL clubs and most of the Division One clubs. Indeed, approximately 90% of full time clubs in Scotland supported the proposals and all SPL clubs were given ample opportunity to express any concerns during the many months of consultation.

In an attempt to overcome some late concerns, concessions were made on the day with regard to voting of 11-1, but these were not even allowed to be amended; never mind voted on!

Despite all of this, two clubs today decided to vote in a certain way and my belief now is that it will be many years before other proposals backed by so many will reach the table again.

As a family who have rightly or wrongly injected £5.6 million into one club, and not an individual who is taking huge amounts out of the game in salary, it’s now time for football supporters throughout Scotland to ask questions.

I personally believed that the proposals were a major step forward, one league body would have been progress and brought sponsors and advertisers to a new and exciting product, the new league structure would have brought excitement and meaningful games and a financial distribution model that would support all clubs in Scotland and in particular all full time clubs.

There are no other proposals on the table and none are likely in the near future.

It is now time to concentrate on all that is positive on the park. Many Scottish clubs, including Dundee United, have a vibrant youth policy and we have also seen many exciting games throughout the season, especially in recent weeks. Our own club still has much to play for this season and the outlook for next season excites me.

I now propose to work even harder at Dundee United and build a better club for our supporters. We have an exciting new manager in Jackie McNamara and I believe we have a bright future ahead of us.

Heart of Midlothian Football Club

Hearts today expresses its disappointment at the outcome of the league reconstruction vote.

David Southern, Managing Director, told Hearts News: “We share the disappointment of the majority of SPL clubs and the wider football community in Scotland.

“There were a number of very positive elements to the proposals to change the league structure and we were keen to play our part in advancing the game.

“As it stands today, there will be no further discussion on league reconstruction and we will continue with the existing league setup for the foreseeable future.”

St.Mirren Football Club

Further to yesterday’s SPL Club meeting held at Hampden Park, St Mirren FC is extremely disappointed by the comments of certain clubs’ representatives and some journalists towards our club and seeks to clarify our position.

We made it perfectly clear in our statement issued last week that we were against the league structure proposed and also that of the proposed 11-1 voting system. It would appear that certain individuals have tried to move this round to being only an objection to the voting structure. Please read our statement of last Monday (see below*) for clarity of this. Both of these items were our primary issues with the proposals.

The following resolutions are described as Qualified Resolutions in the proposed rules and require an 11-1 vote to change:-

– Retaining home gate receipts
– League restructuring
– Distribution model of finance
– Squad size
– Under 21 rules
– Season start date
– Numbers of home live TV matches
– Salary capping

You will probably be aware that during the meeting a proposal to change one of these Resolutions, namely the League Restructuring section, was brought to the table by two clubs who suggested reducing this to a 75% majority ie 9-3.

As this was only part of the Qualified Resolutions this was not acceptable to St Mirren. The items in this section require to be changed completely to a 9-3 level of voting, excepting the retention of home gate receipts which would be totally unfair to the larger clubs. We are also happy to contract that no club shall have more live home TV matches than anyone else.

This democratic set up in the SPL is one that has been in place since its inception and has proved not to be fit for purpose, hence our objection to it. It is ironic that this is what has stopped the proposal going forward.

However, clubs have the right to vote as they see fit and directors have a legal responsibility to look after the interests of their club, a criticism that appears to be directed towards St Mirren. It should be highlighted that Aberdeen could have indeed changed this voting structure last year had they seen fit to vote with their fellow clubs. That is their decision and we respect that, however before being critical of others they should possibly take stock of their previous decision not to allow this change to go forward.

While on the subject of criticism, we find it hard to accept other Football Clubs telling us how to vote on football matters, or indeed questioning our motives. It is the right of all Clubs to make their own decisions and other Clubs should respect this.
We are being accused of self interest. Is that the self interest in consulting with our supporters and staff prior to the board making this decision? If so, we are guilty. We are very grateful for all the messages of support we have received not just from our own fans but also from supporters of many other clubs who did not wish this proposal to go ahead. We firmly believe in our heart and in our head that this is the correct decision for Scottish Football.

St Mirren Football Club are still intent on change in Scottish Football within a system for all 42 clubs. We wish to make it very clear that we have no SPL 2 agenda. We believe that that is not the way forward.

It should be noted that at the start of yesterday’s meeting we asked clubs to consider revisiting the proposal before the meeting. Our suggestion was that we looked at the following compromise;

– One League Body
– All Through Financial Distribution Model
– Introducing a Play Off Place
– A Voting Structure of 75% of the Top League Clubs having to agree.
(Subject to an agreement re home gates and the number of home live TV matches)

Some clubs were willing to discuss this and hopefully come to a compromise.

Regrettably this was rejected by a majority of clubs who wished to only stick to the all or nothing proposal.

There have been suggestions of influence on our Board by other clubs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Board of St Mirren has only the interests of St Mirren and Scottish Football at the centre of their attention.

Finally, St Mirren FC hope that all 42 Clubs can get round the table in the very near future to progress the formation of one league body and the all through financial distribution model as the first steps to finding the best league format to encompass the views of Clubs, supporters, sponsors and all other people involved in Scottish Football.

Rangers Football Club

RANGERS have this evening released the following statement after the meeting of SPL clubs at Hampden Park earlier today.

A club spokesperson said: “We note the outcome of today’s SPL vote on League reconstruction. Rangers has already openly talked about what we believe were constructive proposals and hope that these will be considered at some point in the future.

“The vast majority of supporters did not want 12-12-18 and the two clubs who voted against this should not be singled out for criticism. They stood up for what they and their fans believe.”

The Spartans Football Club

We are very disappointed to learn of the outcome of today’s SPL vote on league reconstruction. Like many involved in Scottish football, Spartans believe that something significant is needed if we are to safeguard and develop the game in this country. As an ambitious club we had, obviously, welcomed the idea of a pyramid structure and the prospect that our national leagues would become inclusive rather than exclusive. We had believed that other clubs felt the same and that this time action would accompany the rhetoric.

However, while this decision was disappointing, like all forward-thinking clubs, we will continue to look for opportunities to progress and strengthen the sport for all and endeavour to work with like-minded clubs to make it more equitable.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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