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May 3, 2013

First Division clubs propose 'SPL2'

First Division clubs in Scotland have proposed an "SPL2" as an alternative to the foundered 12-12-18 reconstruction plans.

Plans for Scottish football to follow the 12-12-18 format fell at the first hurdle as Ross County and St Mirren voted against, but second-tier clubs - struggling to fund full-time football - remain eager for change.

A meeting was held at Hamilton's New Douglas Park on Thursday night and ten second-tier clubs have submitted a proposal to the Scottish Premier League.

Hamilton chairman Les Gray, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, did not divulge the details of the scheme but confirmed First Division clubs had tired of the Scottish Football League board's inability to secure change.

"We have always said we would prefer a 42-club solution," Gray said. "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 ten clubs at the meeting who were all in agreement to put this proposal. I'm not going to name them."

Gray believes that, despite Ross County and St Mirren voting against the proposals, the SPL would be keen to give second-tier sides a better platform.

"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," he added. "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."

Top-flight clubs are to hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a play-off system as an alternative to 12-12-18, and the SPL confirmed it would discuss the proposal then.

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."

SFL chief executive David Longmuir, who upset some First Division clubs during the reconstruction talks, maintains that play-offs - rather than the SPL2 - is the way forwards.

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."

Gray insisted the First Division clubs were not trying to undermine Longmuir but merely wanted a workable financial system.

"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," he said.

"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."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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