Ritchie says breakaway objective complete

Falkirk chairman Martin Ritchie has welcomed the SPL's proposed league reforms.
Falkirk chairman Martin Ritchie has welcomed the SPL's proposed league reforms.

Martin Ritchie has welcomed the move for a 42-team game governing body and stood by his position at the forefront of the First Division breakaway.

The Falkirk chairman, and Les Gray of Hamilton and Raith Rovers director Eric Drysdale were key figures in meetings last week where a group of clubs motioned to leave the Scottish Football League and join the Scottish Premier League in a new division.

It prompted the SPL to pencil in plans for play-offs and a united governing body overseeing the entire domestic game which Ritchie says is one objective completed.

Although Falkirk have always been advocates of an expanded top-flight, the Falkirk chairman told The Falkirk Herald: “That will always be on our agenda, but that’s a discussion for another day.

“So far we have made an enormous leap with the proposed 42-team body and play-offs which is something we have always been in favour of.

“The 42-team body was always the preferred outcome.”

The clubs moved because the window of opportunity to make a change was running out. Maintaining a 12-10-10-10 structure in the leagues will also keep the system simple, and give Division Two clubs such as Stenhousemuir their chance of a pay-day from two visits by Rangers next season.

“Hopefully this will be good for Falkirk,” Mr Ritchie added. “If nothing had happened the opportunity for doing something would have been lost and we’d have been back to square one.

“The objective has been getting so close to change we had to move it on.”

The changes should also include a fairer restribution of wealth and relax the stadium criteria needs of the top flight which currently limits promotion for clubs with grounds that do not have at least 6000 covered seats. This includes pitch surfaces and will be one of discrepancies ironed out between the divisions in the new structure.

Falkirk have now put their own pitch plans out to tender and boss Gary Holt was in Holland last week to study surface options.