Monday, 28 January 2013

Scotland: bonkers

Having seen that the Scottish Premier League has voted for the new three tier system, I just thought I'd opine on how bonkers the new set up is that they have settled on.

The top two leagues, called the Premier Division and the Championship, will have 12 teams each and the third division of 18 teams will be called the National League. So far, so straightforward.

However the abominable league split that was introduced back in 2007 - nominally to provide more Old firm games without needing to play 44 matches - remains, despite the peculiar look that it had when seventh place accumulated more points than sixth.

This time, it's even more complicated.

After 22 matches the top two divisions split into three divisions of 8 teams; for clarity (fat chance) I will call these A, B & C.

League A consists of the top eight teams in the Premier Division. They will play each other twice and battle it out for the title and any other European places up for grabs.

League B is the 'Play-off' League. The bottom four clubs of the Premier Division and the top four clubs of the Championship all come together with a zero points tally and will play each other twice. At the end of the mini-season, the top four teams in League B will start the following season in the Premier Division, while the bottom four will start the next season in the Championship.

League C is the pointless league. The bottom eight clubs of the Championship play each other twice in order to ascertain who will drop down into the National League. At the moment it doesn't seem clear how many promotion/relegation spots there will be between League C and the 18-team National League, but if it is fewer than three than this could be a really, really dull league.

As you can see it totally shits on any history of any 'champions' of lower leagues by completely doing away with the concept.

The whole set-up still needs the support of the Football League, which has its own proposals for a 16-10-16 league structure and a member in Rangers who will no doubt like to be heard considering their likely spot at the top table before too long.

If I were the SPL I would switch the league to a summer season. Sky in particular is usually desperate to show some football over the summer and it's not as if Scotland have qualified for any major tournaments recently that would cause an issue. If anything it might encourage teams to field more Scots if their mercurial Croatian winger gets called up for a European Championships in the middle of the season. Follow the timetables set out by the Norwegian and (I think) Russian leagues. Get more for a TV deal as there is less competition and it also opens the door for more possible loan deals between the English league and Scotland (as the recent trend for MLS stars doing a couple of months in the Premier League has demonstrated). Plus there would be better weather and fewer postponements.

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