SPL or SPL2? That is the Question.

Last updated : 16 August 2006 By Firparkcorner

There are two issues to be considered here. Nearly everyone agrees that it is madness to have over forty clubs in the top league system, especially as this is a closed shop with no trap door at the bottom. It would be nice to streamline Scottish football in some way so that the smaller clubs have lower costs and the more ambitious non-SPL clubs still have access to sponsorship and media funding that gives them profile and money. Doing this in a way that would be sporting and fair is tricky. Just about impossible, in fact.

The other problem is that faced by clubs such as Airdrie United, Livingston, Morton, St Johnstone, Hamilton and Partick Thistle; essentially all the big clubs outwith the SPL. Arguably, some of the lower SPL teams, perhaps including ourselves, will side with them in case something unfortunate were to happen. Being outside the top flight cuts them off from all kinds of potential revenue streams and media attention.

Since the so called elite of the SPL have broken away those remaining in the First Division must feel like they are hanging around a deserted railway station. There is the potential to go somewhere, some time, but the chances of an express picking you up are slim. St Johnstone, Hamilton etc struggle to prove themselves to be good enough to get into the top league and they are aware that self interest will prevent the SPL expanding. Their proposed solution, which is being discussed at the SPL's next meeting, is another breakaway league. Since the SPL2 would be tied to the all singing all dancing big league, it is believed that media opportunities and sponsorship cash will flow forthwith. And, of course, being part of the SPL, there would be strict entry criteria to this league in terms of stadium, seats and ground protection. This would have the effect of drawing a line at the top twenty two clubs. Those below the line would have almost no chance of progression.

Is this a good move? Wel,l it is likely that Motherwell will not notice much difference – assuming we don't get relegated that is! We will continue in much the same way but for Partick Thistle and Morton, clubs arguably not that much smaller than ourselves, St Mirren, Kilmarnock etc, it should mean that relegation outside the second league is impossible. These clubs would still have some share in the revenue made by the city clubs while not having to share it with the real minnows. Given that greed led to the creation of the SPL it is no surprise that the big clubs who were left behind are now proposing a back door entry for themselves. It is no use for a club of Morton's size and potential being stuck playing Brechin and Cowdenbeath, or so the argument goes.

It remains to be seen just how this move will affect Scottish football but initially it looks morally reprehensible. It is another move by the rich (and that is a very relative term in Scottish football!) to keep money for themselves at the cost of the poor and at the expense of sport in general. It is little surprise, given the trickle down effect of greed from the G14 that football is going this way. Soon Scottish football will have its own little closed shop and those clubs will chase the bigger European teams in the same way St Johnstone and Livingston chase Rangers and Celtic.

It is Motherwell's good fortune that we happen to be in the clique already but it is a depressing state of affairs when that is the only plus point in this discussion. Is it time to tear down the whole temple and start again? Perhaps that would be the ideal solution for fans but the clubs will not risk anything so drastic. All this move – if it goes through as proposed – will do is further to alienate normal people from the game they once supported.