Football bosses vote through restructuring of SPL and SFL

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie and vice chairman Douglas McIntyre.
26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie and vice chairman Douglas McIntyre.
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Scottish football league clubs have relented and voted through the restructuring proposals for a single league body.

At yesterday’s Hampden meeting, Falkirk’and Stenhousemuir’s chairmen Martin Ritchie and Bill Darroch and Tadek Kopszywa, East Stirlingshire’s club secretary, were among those who voted on the proposal to merge the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League into one.

The 23-6 in favour of the proposal was enough to nudge through change – 22 teams were needed to pass the motion.

Proposals will see a league pyramid set-up created - potentially relegating Third Division clubs from the present senior set-up – plus opening up the SPL to more First Division clubs via play-offs.

An alternative financial distribution model will also be applied, dripping more cash further down the leagues.

East Stirlingshire were one of the six clubs to reject the proposal and though they voted against, the club secretary was at pains to insist they would be active members of the new structure and work with it.

“Our opposition ended at the meeting. The die has been cast. We will be active members of the new set-up even though we rejected the idea.

“We feel the package and what it would achieve, seemed an extreme measure to dissolve an organisation more than 100 years old.

“From an East Stirlingshire perspective, after giving all considerations to our best interests, we felt staying with the SPL and other 30 clubs was the way to stay.

“The new structure also opens up the possibility of clubs in the Third Division falling through the trap-door, and as one of those, we are liable although hope our rebuilding this summer reduces that possibility.

“We are not against a full pyramid, but are against this one and want a set-up reaching right through, from the public park to the SPL.”

Bill Darroch of Stenhousemuir voted for the proposal but added: “It is sad to begin the closure of the oldest league body in the SFL which has been very supportive and well-run over the years. But I don’t feel there was another option.

“It wouldn’t have been workable on the outside in a 22-20 split (if the First Division had broken away to join the SPL as threatened).”

Martin Ritchie, who has been personally pressing for change agreed: “The 42-team outcome is the one we always wanted – it’s far better to have everyone involved. A single league body will be a massive improvement,” he said.

Several SFL teams changed their views from the indicative vote taken at last month’s annual general meeting. Legal teams will now kick into action to create the new body in time for June 27 and the SPL’s AGM.