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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Scottish football: How a 16-team league revamp can benefit all clubs

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The notion of returning to a 16-team top tier in Scotland has been mooted for the past few seasons and with Rangers dropping out of the top tier it has never looked more likely that the 16-team division will come to pass.

There are two major issues at stake with such a proposal.

The first thing that springs to mind is the level of drudgery that could unfold over the final months of the season as two teams stretch ahead at the top of table while possibly another two sink away at the bottom.

The other problem is that in recent years the bulk of the money invested into the game through television rights has been dependent on four Old Firm fixtures happening every season.

There is a solution however that can see a 16-team top flight, which will have everyone playing for a prize in the final months AND four Old Firm games per season.

The explanation may appear complicated but it is simple if you bear with me.

Before each season every team in the SPL is seeded into pots from 1 to 4, four teams in each pot, the seeding is dependent on where you finished in the league the previous season. A draw is made just like the Champions League and we have four groups; SPL A, SPL B, SPL C and SPL D.

The system differs from the Champions League as all 16 teams in the SPL play each other home and away to give us 30 matches.

At this point in the season the four teams that are top of each group go into SPL 1, the four teams that are second in each group go into SPL 2 and so on.

Now we revert to the Champions Leagues format where each team in each group plays each other home and away, but there is a twist, the results of the matches played earlier in the season between the teams based in each group carry forward so there are already six matches played by every team before the second group phase begins.

Once the final six rounds of matches are played the team at the top of SPL 1 is the league champion and the bottom team in SPL 1 is relegated to SPL 2 and finishes fifth while the top team in SPL 2 is promoted to SPL 1 and finishes fourth. This promotion relegation happens between each group for the purposes of determining the final league position and qualification for Europe but also to determine which pot you will be in for the seedings the following season.

It may be a bit complicated but I think it solves some of the problems that will be raised by detractors of the 16-team top flight.

Article by Jim Barry

Calling all fans of Scottish football? What do you think of Jim's plan? Could this be the way of solving the problem north of the border? What do you think is the best way forward for the national game? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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