Clubs make proposal for SPL2

Irn-Bru First Division clubs have moved to break the deadlock surrounding reconstruction of Scottish football by proposing the formation of an SPL2.

Ten clubs sent their proposal to the Scottish Premier League following a meeting at Hamilton’s New Douglas Park last night.

Second-tier clubs fear for their ability to sustain full-time football after the collapse of a plan for a new merged body, which was vetoed by Ross County and St Mirren at an SPL meeting last month.

Hamilton chairman Les Gray tonight confirmed they had grown frustrated with the Scottish Football League board and the rebel group hope the SPL will meet them to discuss a two-tier structure.

Gray would not go into details of their proposal to the SPL, whose clubs are due to meet on Tuesday at a second meeting to discuss introducing play-offs as an alternative to the failed plan to split the top two tiers into three divisions after 22 games.

But he told BBC Radio Scotland: “We have always said we would prefer a 42-club solution. If they are unable to do that, we can’t sit on our hands and see what happens.

“We have given them (SPL) an alternative and that option includes a second tier, a Championship. That’s all there is to it, there is nothing sinister behind this.

“There were 10 clubs at the meeting who were all in agreement to put this proposal. I’m not going to name them.”

First Division clubs were the biggest losers when the SPL rejected the proposals, which were designed to create extra revenue to spread among their ranks.

Gray added: “I have spoken to the SPL chairman over this and I have always felt there was some warmth towards the idea of a second tier, but it has never got over the line.

“We are going at it from the angle that this is the last chance to do something for next season and there is a will to do it.

“There are clubs in danger, there are clubs having to consider part-time, and there are jobs in danger. We need to try to get this through so that we can create extra wealth for that second tier.”

The SPL confirmed they would discuss the proposal.

A statement read: “We can confirm that we have received a letter from the overwhelming majority of those clubs which would be in the SFL Division 1 next season expressing a desire to be admitted to the Scottish Premier League for season 2013/14.

“This letter will be put in front of all SPL clubs at their all club meeting this Tuesday when we look forward to discussing how best to take forward the game in this country.”

The SFL, which has received about £1million each season from the SPL as stipulated in the top club’s 1998 breakaway, has a rule stating that clubs need to provide two years’ notice to resign.

But Gray said: “Having taken legal advice on this and bringing a lawyer to the meeting regarding the implications of the settlement agreement etc and the rules of the game, we know it can be delivered for next season.

“I’m not a lawyer but it’s quite clear from the facts that we have that in hand and are not concerned about that.”

The Hamilton chairman revealed he had not spoken about the plans with SFL chief executive David Longmuir, who angered some First Division clubs during the reconstruction talks, for example by declining an offer of mediation by the Scottish Football Association.

Gray said: “David was copied in on all of our communications about our meetings and wouldn’t agree with some of the things we were doing and saying, I’m sure, because we were undermining the board in his eyes.

“And I would totally respect that position but we had to do something that we felt would help make this change if it’s at all possible, and we feel the First Division have not been adequately represented by our board. I’m disappointed with our board.

“I’m not trying to be personal, this is purely clubs trying to survive and it seems to me there has been a general malaise between the SPL board and the SFL board during this process.

“And I’m worried if we didn’t do something ourselves then it couldn’t be fixed.”

Longmuir today insisted his focus was on securing play-offs between the top two tiers.

He told STV: “We met with the professional game board and SPL and SFA chief executives were in attendance. We discussed one issue and that was play-offs.

“That is the action the bodies want to pursue, the position of the SFL is to continue to work towards meaningful change, by that we’re involved in discussions with both parties and we are firmly focused on delivering change.

“We want to move it forward through play-offs with the pyramid structure to come later in time.”

Meanwhile, Gray insisted the future of Third Division champions Rangers was not discussed by the group.

“That’s not what this is about, it’s not about the acceleration of Rangers through the divisions,” he said.

The Ibrox club issued a statement, which read: “Rangers remain profoundly interested in all talks and developments on league reconstruction and has always been willing to play a full part in improving the game in Scotland. However, beyond that we cannot comment.”

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