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Permanent League Reconstruction Finally Up For Debate

Date: 11th June 2020

We were delighted to see that the most recent league reconstruction proposals being debated by the SPFL clubs are for permanent change, rather than the temporary adjustments that would have just ‘kicked the can down the road’ and which we believed to be fundamentally unworkable as they would have required either fewer promotion spots or more relegation spots a couple of years down the line.

In April we carried out a high-level survey of supporter opinions on reconstruction – what they liked and disliked about the current league structure, and what changes they wished to see this summer. We offered to take part in the league reconstruction task force, and although that offer was ultimately not accepted we provided the survey findings as an input to the SPFL clubs’ discussions.


Survey Findings

The current structure is viewed positively, but there is clear and strong support for larger divisions – although not at the expense of the current competitiveness. The play-offs are broadly seen as positive, but there is scope for improvement – to ensure fairness, and to remove the current bias in favour of teams from higher divisions. The premiership split is also seen as broadly positive, although the imbalance in home and away fixtures is of great concern. The pyramid has been well received, and there is support for opening this up further.

The financial distribution model is a major concern for fans, relegation can put clubs in crisis and easier transitions between the divisions are needed. We have also seen a lot of criticism towards the SPFL’s voting mechanism and decision-making processes, with suspicion that the current reconstruction discussions are taking place to benefit the few rather than the many.

What do you like most about the current league structure?

  • 29% of responses mentioned the play-offs positively, and 20% mentioned the premiership split
  • Lots of comments about the current competitiveness of the divisions, with few meaningless games
  • Positive comments about the pyramid structure

What do you like least about the current league structure?

  • Over 30% of comments described the boring and repetitive nature of the fixture calendar
  • The play-off structure is seen to be biased towards teams from the higher divisions
  • Lots of negative comments about the premiership split, particularly the imbalance between home and away fixtures that this introduces
  • The voting structure and financial distribution model were criticised by a number of respondents

What would you like to see in a new league structure?

  • The most common response (36% of comments) was “bigger divisions”, most who proposed a particular size for divisions mentioned 16 or 18 teams in each
  • A fairer structure for play-offs would please many
  • More promotion and relegation between divisions, and opening up the pyramid to more teams, would lead to more variety in opposition
  • Strong support for more regionalised divisions
  • Permanent changes are needed, rather than temporary fixes


What Next?

Our offer to provide a supporters’ perspective to the reconstruction process remains on the table, and there is clear appetite for change from supporters and clubs at all levels. This has to be done for the right reasons and for the benefit of all though – not just as a way of protecting the few clubs facing relegation this summer.

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