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Peter Houston insists Falkirk’s expansion hopes are not self-centred

Date: 26th November 2015

By Capital City Press

Falkirk boss Peter Houston is adamant the Bairns’ call for an expanded Premiership is not an attempt to secure a cheap return to the top-flight.

Club chairman Doug Henderson last week lit the touch paper on another reconstruction debate, describing the current system as “out-dated” and stating “we must put vested interest aside and reform our leagues by bringing about a 16-team Premier Division.”

Falkirk, who have been in the second tier since 2010, are perennial playoff contenders but have seen their promotion hopes hamstrung in the past two seasons by the presence of fallen giants Rangers, Hibs and, last year, Hearts.

Any expansion would be likely to benefit the Bairns – currently in third spot – but Houston is adamant Henderson’s comments were not self-serving.

The former Dundee United boss said: “I’ve always said I think there should be a bigger league. I can understand people saying it’s because of where we are in the Championship and our desire to get back into the top league.

“But it’s about finding answers to the issues. In a 12-team top league, with teams scheduled to play each other four times a season, there is too much familiarity. Factor in cup competitions, and teams can play each other six or seven times.

“A 16-team league might not be ideal, but with so many teams out on a limb to stay full-time, it would bring a freshness and new opportunities for these clubs.

“I understand there would be a need for discussions regarding how many times clubs play each other, because you can’t live on 30 games. That’s something that needs to be looked at.

“There might be meaningless games – but you get meaningless games in the Premiership now! I see where the chairman is coming from and I would like to see it extended.

“I’m not the man with all the answers, but it’s a discussion to be had and there is a solution out there. We need to find the formula that suits everyone financially and gives the game in Scotland a freshness it needs.”

The SPFL’s three-year moratorium on league reconstruction, which was set up when the SPL and SFL leagues merged in 2013, ends next summer and Falkirk are hopeful there will be a meaningful dialogue regarding an expanded top-flight.

And Houston believes the Bairns would be able to compete in the current Premiership.

Houston continued: “We knocked Patrick Thistle out of the League Cup, then went to Ross County and got hammered 7-0. You have your good days and your bad days.

“But I think we would give a really good account of ourselves over the course of a season, particularly against the sides in the bottom half of the Premiership.”

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