OPINION: SPFL league restructure - Playing 13 teams twice is more enticing than 11 three times

Sports reporter Craig Goldthorp welcomes a 14-team top flight as the SPFL task-force gets ready for a second meeting tomorrow.

By Craig Goldthorp
Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 4:44 pm
Craig Goldthorp reckons the top flight needs 14 teams. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Craig Goldthorp reckons the top flight needs 14 teams. Picture: Michael Gillen.

I am all in favour of news that Scottish football’s new league reconstruction ‘task force’ is bidding to rubber stamp an increase in the size of the Scottish Premiership from 12 to 14 teams within five weeks.

Amid football’s potentially catastrophic and ongoing lockdown due to coronavirus, the Championship, League 1 and League 2 have all been terminated, with the Premiership widely expected to follow after a UEFA delegates meeting today (Thursday). A taskforce, led by Les Gray of Hamilton and Ann Budge of Hearts (pictured) will assess league reconstruction options open to the clubs in the SPFL and I think having a bigger 14-team Premiership in Scottish football would help bring a freshness and more competition to our game. The current set-up breeds too much familiarity, staleness and fear.

And, rather than being a stop gap measure for one season – specifically engineered at keeping Edinburgh giants Hearts in the top flight – I would like to see the bigger league remain on a permanent basis.

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Ann Budge is heading up the task-force with Les Gray of Hamilton. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The existing 12-team Premiership is, in my opinion, crying out for change.

Playing teams a mimimum of three times a season – which can increase to an eyewatering seven occasions if post split fixtures, cup ties and cup replays are maximised – has grown tedious and tiresome.

With all due respect, watching St Johnstone take on Hamilton Accies or Livingston face Ross County for an umpteenth time within the space of a few months in front of another paltry 1500 crowd could be more likely to induce loud snores than frantic gasps and edge of the seat excitement.

Playing against 13 different teams twice pre-split is far more enticing than taking on 11 sides three times before the cut, with the added attraction that playing the Old Firm less means that the league should be considerably tighter and more interesting as teams replace regular drubbings by Celtic and Rangers with more winnable games against teams with similar resources.

Only Rangers or Celtic have a chance in the current set-up says Craig (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In my opinion, it is impossible for anyone other than Celtic or Rangers to win the top flight under the current set-up, I think that – while still being extremely unlikely – there would be at least a chance for someone else to throw their hat into contention once split games arrive.

The top six would play-off as currently, with the bottom eight getting an extra two games to compensate for lost Old Firm Revenue.

So these could be revolutionary and exciting times ahead for the Scottish game.