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Apr 8, 2013

St Mirren against restructure plans

St Mirren have confirmed that they plan to vote against proposals to restructure Scottish football at a ballot for top-flight clubs next week.

Scottish Premier League sides are due to cast their vote on the plans, which would include a merger with the Scottish Football League and the introduction of a 12-12-18 structure, next Monday.

While the Saints are in favour of change and the introduction of one organisation governing all of Scottish senior football, they have concerns about certain aspects of the current proposals. SPL bosses hope to implement the changes, which include splitting the top two divisions into three groups of eight during the campaign, for the start of next season.

A statement from the Paisley club read: "After a very studied consideration of the Structure, Articles of Association, Rules and Shareholders Agreement, the Board of St Mirren Football Club have decided that they will be unable to support the motion at next Monday's Meeting of SPL Clubs regarding this proposal for League Reconstruction.

"This view has been taken after careful thought regarding this proposal including engagement with fans and the views of our coaching staff. The principles of a new league structure, single league body and all through distribution model are part of many aspects of this we fully support, however the proposal as presented does not, in our view, move the game forward.

"The concept of playing 22 games prior to breaking into three leagues of eight, including the middle eight losing their points gained in the first series of games, is not a system we see as taking the game forward in the long term. You will be aware that other countries have tried this system and have since rejected such a set up.

"We also feel that this system is not fair to fans who buy into their club by way of a season ticket, who are then unsure of what they are purchasing. It is also against the basic wishes of the fans for larger leagues as highlighted in all recent fan surveys.

"In the proposed rules, the voting structure is remaining, in all items that are of importance, an 11-1 vote. In our opinion, this is fundamentally wrong in any structure and is the principle reason why Scottish League Football has not been able to restructure prior to this time, a view St Mirren have held for some time. The restriction on any change for three years is also very much against our view. When engaging with any new rule book there will always be oversight and anomalies that need to be revised on an annual basis.

"An area St Mirren are very uncomfortable with is the lock down on various financial rules. The credibility of Scottish Football has been tarnished badly in recent times by financial mismanagement and the time has come for strong financial rules to be in place. Another concern to us is the hard line taken by some in certain areas, like season start date, home-grown talent, under-21 rules. This is not an exhaustive list, however we do think these items require negotiation for the betterment of Scottish Football in general.

"We also do not accept that this is a take it or leave it situation. We do wish to keep working towards one organisation, an all through distribution model and getting closer to our supporters' wishes of a larger league, while being fully aware of the commercial and financial pressures of operating a football club.''

So far 14 SFL clubs have expressed a desire to delay a reshuffle for another season, with the SFL's own vote due to take place next week if SPL clubs give their backing to the plans.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster, however, suggested that an overhaul could be scrapped altogether if top-flight clubs do not back the changes on April 15.

He said: "If less than 11 [SPL] clubs are in favour, the game's a bogey and that's that."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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