The case for a 20-team Scottish top flight.



Another day and another bad financial news story in Scottish football. This time Motherwell, who have recorded a £180,498 loss in the financial year up to May 2013 – a year in which the club finished second in the SPL and made its debut in the Champions League.

The reasons behind this significant loss have being partly attributed to the lack of a new league sponsor since Clydesdale Bank ended its sponsorship of the old Scottish Premier League back in May 2013.

With the arrival of the new Scottish Professional Football League this season – supporters in Scotland were promised a bright financial future. However now as we approach the end of January 2014, two of Scotland’s three major trophies remain without a title sponsor.

Only the SFA’s Scottish Cup has a sponsor in William Hill.

So far the brand new SPFL have announced that Scottish football is to be beamed into China for ten-years and that it’s official soft drink is Irn Bru. But apart from this we have heard next to nothing from Doncaster and company.

Back in October 2013, Neil Doncaster stressed that he was looking for the “right fit” when it comes to finding a sponsor and that the SPFL had not put in place a timescale to find a league and league cup sponsor.

He also added: “We remain in discussions with a number of different bodies around league title sponsorship and also league cup sponsorship… These conversations will continue. It is important that we take the time to partner with the right organisation.”

Unless Doncaster and the SPFL have a title sponsorship for next season waiting in the wings, it may be time to put in place a drastic restructuring of Scottish football.

The introduction of extra promotion and relegation places between Scotland’s two top divisions and the initial steps towards a pyramid league system are signs of progress in the right direction but it isn’t entirely the change that supporters and club directors have being looking for.

A twenty team top and second tier could be the change Scottish football is needing.

Currently Scottish football supports 21 full-time outfits from Ross County to Queen of the South. Below the Premiership many of these full time sides struggle to cope with the tight financial conditions they are faced with.

A 20 team top tier would allow the maximum room for Scotland’s top professional outfits securing a much safer financial future for those clubs.

The merging of Scotland’s top two divisions would soon see the re-establishment of some of Scotland’s biggest derbies.

It would also provide extra needed fixtures for clubs. A 38 game season is currently one game more than the current 12-team Premiership provides and two games more than the 10-team Championship.

It would also remove the fears of Ross County chairman Roy McGregor about season ticket sales as clubs would know their fixture list from the beginning of the season as a 20-team top tier would have no need for any split.

It would also stop the mass repetition of fixtures seen throughout Scotland’s four leagues, instead sides would face off only twice a season in league competition.

To counter fears that any renewed Old Firm derby could be restricted to just two games a season, a new localised league cup set-up could be introduced. This could increase the number of local derbies to ensure extra revenue from bumper crowds.

The new second tier championship could see Scotland’s third and fourth tiers merge with those initial 18 sides joined by the league winners from the Lowland and the Highland League.

An increase in promotion and relegation spots between the top divisions would also have to be introduced in order to make sure there is enough excitement and tension in the new league set-up.

Alongside these league and league cup changes, steps towards better youth development, affordable tickets prices and the introduction of safe seating and summer football could all go a long way towards making fans, chairman and players happy and can help give Scottish professional football a fighting chance.

As always at Scotzine we would like to hear your thoughts, do we need more league reconstruction? Is a 20/20 league system something you would like to see implemented?


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