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By ESPN Staff

Scottish clubs plot breakaway league

Scottish Premier League clubs have invited 10 Football League clubs to join a reconstructed two-tier top flight from the 2008-2009 season.

The SPL would remain in its current form with a 12-team structure, while the lower tier would consist of 10 clubs.

Livingston, Clyde and Hamilton are the driving forces behind a plan to sever ties with the SFL.

But they are believed to have the backing of all other Division One clubs, bar newcomers Gretna, who have ambitions of reaching the SPL next season through the traditional method of promotion.

The rebel clubs say they fear for their financial futures if they remain in the SFL, who have so far failed to secure sponsorship for their 30 member clubs after Bell's ended their deal at the end of last season, despite the new campaign already being underway.

But now the SPL clubs have given the green light to the second tier, where there will be a one-up, one-down system of promotion in the top flight and from 'SPL2'.

SPL chairman Lex Gold said: 'Our clubs considered a range of options for structural change at the top level of Scottish football.

'We believe, on balance, a top flight of 22 clubs playing in two divisions offers the best opportunity to strengthen and enhance the senior professional game in Scotland.

'Our clubs are sensitive to the impact a development of this nature could have on the remaining SFL clubs and the opportunity for wider restructuring below a new top-flight structure could also be addressed.

'We have, therefore, written to our colleagues in the SFL and the Scottish Football Association to arrange an early discussion about the impact of these proposals and how they may best be brought into effect.''

The SPL clubs are also hoping to launch a new cup competition for all 22 top-tiered sides.

Entry criteria to the SPL would remain, but clubs wishing to join the second tier must have 3000-seater stadia and pitch protection.