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By ESPN Staff

SPL changes look set to fail

The Scottish Premier League's restructuring proposals appear set to fail after Inverness and Kilmarnock joined Dundee United in reacting with scepticism to the plans.

All 12 top-flight clubs met at Hampden on Tuesday to discuss plans for league reconstruction amid other radical reforms including an earlier start to the season, a winter break and the re-introduction of play-offs.

Afterwards SPL chairman Ralph Topping and chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed to be optimistic the plan to have an SPL 1 and 2 with ten teams in each division would be ratified at the next meeting on January 17. An 11-1 vote is required to push the proposal through.

But Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson, who was absent from the discussions, said representatives from three other clubs were likely to abstain from the vote and Caley Thistle and Killie yesterday declared their unhappiness with the plans. Hearts reportedly also remain unconvinced.

Inverness chairman George Fraser said in a statement: "Our initial impression was that the SPL Strategy Group was looking to choose between 12 and 14 clubs and it was a big surprise to us and others that they have come forward with a proposal to actually reduce the SPL to 10 clubs.

"That is much less attractive to a club like ours and we need to carefully consider the financial implications and what has now been placed on the table in that regard following this week's SPL meeting.

"There's a lot of discussion required before the crucial SPL meeting on January 17 and we will be in dialogue with all concerned in the meantime."

Dundee United chairman Thompson admits change is necessary, but he is not in favour of all of the reforms proposed by the strategic review group featuring Topping, Doncaster and representatives from six clubs - Hibernian, St Mirren, Motherwell, Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen - following research by Doncaster.

The SPL chief executive believes that a ten-team top flight is the only proposal that can deliver on a financial basis.

Thompson told STV: "It's up to us to stand firm in what we believe in. If we believe it's not right, then we won't vote for it. Or rather than not vote for it, which means voting against change, abstain, which is as good as a no vote anyway.

"In the current format I don't think it's going to happen, unless something dramatic changes within the proposals."

Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston added: "If voting goes ahead as things stand, Kilmarnock will be voting against.

"To expect a proposal made on January 4 to be passed on January 17 is unfortunate."


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