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Everything posted by RabidAl

  1. Not really important? That'll be why all World Cup and Champions League final matches kick off at the same time then. And what if the team in 10th in your scenario are only a point or two ahead of the bottom team but then end up knowing a draw against a team who are safe will see them stay up at the expense of the team who are missing out? I'm all for innovation and even some of the more complex Belgian style solutions but that's just not going to work. Yes, and plenty of those World Cup and Champions' League games have nothing riding on them at all, as do many of the fixtures in the final round of league matches of any given season, making it an empty gesture. (The rugby union world cup, as an example, has 4 groups of 5 teams who obviously cannot all play in the final round of matches - and it is a better, more exciting format than our football European Championships and should really be considered for that tournament.) If the team who were in 10th at the split only need a draw against a team that are already safe, at the expense of a team who are not playing, then they will play for a draw - as happens anyway. If you finish bottom at the point of the split, then you'd be least deserving of playing in the final round of league matches; on the other hand, that same team would have all their games out of the way by the final day of the season, giving them the best chance of accruing the points to pressurise on opponents and so saving themselves from relegation. As I said, it is a minor issue - not a show stopper, by any means - and is fair enough for everyone provided that is all advertised in advance, so that everyone knows what to expect. If the league went to 14-14-14 using this set up, there could be plenty of interesting friendlies across the divisions between those teams sitting out; page 32 of this thread shows a possible method of transition from our current set up to 14-14-14, or to 14-14-18 if we were to add a Scottish Youth team, one from Highlands, two from Lowlands. Yep - i'm well past my 'use by' date on here, so i'll quit today. Thanks to everyone who has put up with me; sorry to anyone who i've offended; all the best to you and yours. (Boo-hoo, right?) P.S. - Absolutely agree. It would be fantastic, and is tried-and-tested so the powers-that-be have good precedent to point to when implementing it. Bye!
  2. Not really that important. The team with the least to play for once the post-split phase begins would always sit out the final round of games. For example, the team beginning the post-split phase in 9th (in a 9-5 split) would always play in the first round of post-split matches but would not play in the final round of matches, whilst the team beginning the post-split phase in 1st place would sit out the first round of matches but would always play in the final round of matches. The effect of this would be to keep the league table closer for longer (concertina effect), since the lower-ranked teams would be given the chance to close up on higher ranked teams who were sitting out that week. The biggest clubs would still be playing in the 'showpiece' final games of the season. Similarly, in the bottom 5, the team sitting in 10th at the split could sit out the first round of games with the league closing up behind them, but would eventually have the advantage of playing in the final round of matches. Of course, it'd be important not to over do it with the play-offs for European places, since fans obviously won't turn out for regular league matches if they feel that they're guaranteed a play-off for the Europa League from early on in the season. --- In terms of an improvement to the pyramid that could be made immediately, I think the next step would be to have the bottom 2 teams from League Two play in the end-of-season pyramid play-off competition alongside more teams from the Lowland and Highland leagues. It would be beneficial to the competition in regional leagues for teams to have more than one promotion play-off place to aim for and it would be a step towards a more integrated senior game. They could start with the top 2 from each of the Highland and Lowland leagues qualifying for the pyramid play-offs, possibly seeding the Lowland and Highland winners into the 2 play-off finals, with each Highland or Lowland runner-up playing against one of the bottom two SPFL teams in the semi finals in order to qualify for one of the pyramid play-off finals. They could be a bit more adventurous than that, however, by making it into an 8 team end-of-season knock out, with the top 3 from the Lowlands and top 3 from the Highlands qualifying alongside the bottom 2 of the SPFL. In time, they could have 2 from each of the SPFL, the Lowland League West, the Lowland League East, and the Highlands qualifying for the pyramid play-offs, one from each league going into two separate knock-out competitions of 4 teams, for the 2 SPFL places available. I think it's important for non-league clubs to have more opportunities for promotion than they currently do, but head-to-head competition is the only way to decide upon merit who should be where.
  3. If we do not receive more Europa League places (from 2021) but the SPFL are looking for an interim expanded league to bridge towards a 16- or 18- team top division, i'd recommend a 14-team league with a 9-5 split after 26 games (when teams have played each other both at home and away). (A 5-9 split would have been ideal if there were enough Europa League places to 'overhang' the split, giving something for the best teams in the bottom section to play for - but that would not be possible without more Europa League places being available.) The top 9 would play each other once more, either at home or away, for a total of 34 games (35 week season). This would give an open top section where teams could continue to play towards play-offs for the European places, uninhibited by a split. The bottom 5 would play each other twice more, both at home and away from home, for a total of 34 games (36 week season). This would give a 'group of death' bottom section, where 2 teams would survive, 1 would face relegation play-offs against teams from the division below, and 2 would be automatically relegated. I envisage it looking like this: 1 -> Champions' League place / Play-Off for Title, against 2nd (home) 2 -> Europa League place / Play-Off for Title, against 1st (away) 3 -> Play -Off Final for Europa League place, against winner of Semi (home, Sunday) 4 -> Play-Off Semi for Europa League place, against winner of Quarter (home, Wednesday) 5 -> Play-Off Quarter for Europa League place, against 6th (home, Saturday) 6 -> Play-Off Quarter for Europa League place, against 5th (away, Saturday) 7 8 9 10 11 12 -> Relegation Play-Off 13 -> Relegated 14 -> Relegated By minimising the head-to-heads between the best teams during the regular part of the season, fewest points would be dropped all-round among the leading title contenders, so we would likely go into the split with a closer title challenge than we ever see in the current system. This would be very attractive to commercial partners and supporters alike, as would the final 8 game 'sprint' to title and the intensity of the relegation group and play-off head-to-heads at the most decisive time of the season. The 4th Old Firm game would likely be the title play-off match, but it could instead be in Round 2 of the League Cup each season. There is also the possibility of 7th place in the league qualifying for a play-off place if one of the top 3 league sides wins the Scottish Cup (and so a Europa place becomes available for the league. A subsequent 18-team league could then be set up along similar lines in terms of play-offs and relegation, but with more teams involved it would be a little less brutal and so give more time for the introduction of youths. I think our as-many-small-national-leagues-as-possible-pyramid probably inhibits the development of young players through its overly-competitive-therefore-short-term-ist nature, and also as it stifles clubs from progressing to reach their full-time potential. Candidate full-time clubs, given genuine opportunity and openness to progress, would (for me) be: Elgin, Peterhead, Cove Rangers, Arbroath, Edinburgh City, Bo'ness, Stirling Albion, Cumbernauld, Pollock, East Kilbride and Irvine Meadow; there may be others. I wonder what the bare minimum is for a 'full-time' operation? Each club already has a basic infrastructure in place, so: a squad of youths, a coach, a physio, and somewhere to train between 10am and 12.30pm Monday to Friday. Not too onerous. I tend to think that clubs would be best suited to staying part-time in regional leagues until the point at which they are promoted to a national league where they face full-timers (and large travelling supports) on a regular basis; however, I think that the cost-savings from less travel and the increased revenue from greater local away supports within regional leagues would allow some clubs to be able to afford full-time football whilst playing within the regions, even if only on the model set out above. I take the number of full-time clubs as a barometer of the health of our game, in that it shows both strong supporter numbers and also gives more youths the chance to train full-time and play genuine competitive football alongside senior pros at the weekends.
  4. If we're serious about developing young players to benefit the future national team, then we should really be looking at introducing a quota of at least 3 Scottish teenagers per starting XI in SPFL matches. This would undoubtedly give them the experience that they need at an early enough age and would be fair in that it would apply to all teams across the League. Failing that, a less cut-throat league set-up would give managers the freedom to introduce youngsters without such fear of losing their jobs; our current high-stakes small leagues seem to encourage short term-ism, and it seems only to have been the recent financial woes of SPFL clubs that have forced managers to introduce youths. It is not a dichotomy, however, as larger leagues can be competitive as well as helping to develop youngsters... ...there is a double dividend available if we have a larger league with a conventional season of playing each opponent once at home, once away followed by play-offs for the European places. Firstly, since any two teams cannot come away from any given match with full points, a larger league will minimise the throat-cutting that we have at the moment between potential title challengers. In itself, this measure would likely keep several teams within a few points of each other at the top of the league until the season's end, and so would be very attractive to sponsors and supporters - such as with an 18-team league, 34-game season. Secondly, end of season play-offs for European places would provide an additional spice for supporters and boost for commercial revenues, not only with more to aim for during the course of the season (negating the 'meaningless games' argument), but also in a winner-takes-all type finale to the season. Such as: a play-off ladder from 6th-3rd, where the team finishing 6th plays away to 5th, the winner plays away to 4th, the winner of that playing away to 3rd to decide the Europa League places; this could be a quick-fire week of Sat-Wed-Sun one-off games to decide the season. These European play-off places could extend down to include 7th-place in the league in seasons where the Scottish Cup is won by one of the top 3 teams. 2nd could play 1st for the title if they finish within a reasonable number of points, such as if they within 10% (or about 9 points) of 1st place; the play-off could also be for the Champions' League place, if 2nd finished within 5% (4-5 points) of 1st; this could be either a one-off match or a two-legged affair, as required. Other benefits of a larger league would be a greater variety of fixtures/less boredom from playing the same teams repeatedly, and more winning teams in the top flight so (possibly) higher attendances. If there was an issue with there not being enough guaranteed Old Firm games in a larger top division, I would recommend deliberately drawing the Old Firm together in Round 2 of the League Cup each season to give a guaranteed Old Firm game for commercial revenues and so one fewer OF match being required of any given league structure; or, more controversially, draw them together in a two-legged quarter final each year. Any imbalances/odd numbers of home games between them could, of course, be played at Hampden. If a bridge between the current 12-team top division and an 18-team top level is needed for a few seasons, I would recommend a 15-team, 34-game, 37-week league season. As outlined below. Teams would play each other home and away for an initial 28-game, 30-week season. Due to the odd number of teams, everyone would have two free weekends each during this part of the season, so our Champions' League representatives (for example) could have their free weekend between the two Champions' League Play-Off Round matches in order to help their progress. (The SPFL could look at doing something like this at the moment, scheduling Round 2 of the League Cup for the Saturday in between CLPO matches.) Thereafter, the league would split into a top 4, middle 7 and bottom 4. Teams in the top section would play each other both at home and away for a further 6 games; teams in the middle section (of 7) would play each other either at home or away, for a further 6 games; teams in the bottom section would play each other both at home and away, for a further 6 games. This would guarantee everyone 17 home games each, and 34 league matches each. It would look like this: 1 -> Champions' League place 2 -> Europa League place 3 -> Europa League place 4 -> Play-Off (Final) for Europa League place 5 -> Play-Off (Semi) for Europa League place 6 -> Play-Off (Semi) for Europa League place 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 -> Relegation Play-Off place 14 -> Relegated 15 -> Relegated This would require a fourth European place to be allocated to the League, which happens when one of the top 3 win the Scottish Cup; if so, the top two from the middle section would meet in a one-off play-off game, with the winner progressing to meet the team finishing 4th in the league in a play-off for the final Europa League place. (Ideally this would require additional Europa League places to be allocated to Scotland.) This set-up would give more variety of fixtures, most teams would have something to play for at the season's end, would give 4 Old Firm League matches, would give a less cut-throat season until the end-of-season splits (giving more teams in the title race until that time) and could also give more room for young player development during a more open regular phase of the season.
  5. I think it might, and would be worth a look given that the loan system seems to be discredited since it and our current league structure have comprehensively failed to produce a national team with players capable of even taking us to a major finals, let alone be competitive at one. I think the best under 18s would be more competitive at that level than the under 20s have been in the Challenged Cup, because there'd be more concentrated quality in a single squad of our best 23 under 18s, rather than in 12 squads of however-many under 20s/development sides. It'd give the future national team real competitive experience training and playing alongside each other, which you would think should pay off in the long term. And it's only a pilot, so flaws could be ironed out or it could be binned completely after a couple of years. Other tweaks I can see to the current system that could help the national team would be around the development league, where dumping 14 teams in a division with only one prize to play for shows a complete lack of thought or imagination from the powers-that-be on how to develop talent. If we agree that youngsters need competitive football around senior pros in order to develop to their potential, then it can't be right that most of the games are entirely meaningless since most haven't a chance of winning the title. It would show more gumption if the development league was split into leagues of 8, for example, with autumn and spring seasons, top few playing off at the (overall) season's end, promotion and relegation, etc. Further, younger players could be guaranteed more games by simply shifting the quota around, so that 5 under 19s (for example) would have to be on the pitch at a given time during a match; this would continue to give game-time to 20 year-olds who would become part of the over-age element, and it would also give more older senior pros minutes on the field - since most clubs still cannot afford to run a full reserve team, a hybrid system is the best we can do.
  6. With more Europa League places available from 2021, it'd pretty much terminate the larger league=meaningless games argument and leave a clearer path for the larger top tier that the majority of supporters prefer; a consequence of this would be to enable the SPFL to change to the 3 national tiers that supporters also prefer (see page 32 of this thread). The remaining difficulties regarding an expanded top division relate to fitting in 4 Old Firm matches per league season (for tv deals), and whether having more full-timers in the top tier makes the second tier less financially viable for clubs in that division to remain full-time (because there are fewer large travelling supports in a division where there are fewer full-time clubs). Firstly, it's surely more appealing to have fewer head-to-heads in the course of the regular season and saving them for the decisive time at the season's end - so a regular season of playing opponents once at home and once away in an expanded division of 16 or 18 teams, followed by play offs for the title and for Europa League places at the season's end, would give the additional OF and other head-to-heads greater meaning. (A 14-team top tier with a 5-9 split would achieve something similar.) The Champions' League place could still go to the team with the highest points total. Secondly, an expanded top tier would give much more scope for promotion and relegation between the top two divisions, so full-timers relegated to tier 2 would not find themselves stuck in tier 2 or 3 for the years that they currently do - more fluid promotion and relegation keeps the money flowing around the game and would enable them to continue with full-time squads. The other thing that i'd be interested to see, if they do introduce an 18-team bottom division of the SPFL, would be a pilot of a Scotland under 18s team in that division. The Scottish FA could take the best youths in the country from their clubs on a unique development loan, training them full-time at Oriam during the week and playing them in all the competitive league and cup football for that level at weekends. It'd be the logical outcome for Club Academy Scotland/Project Pave graduates to have a year or two to finish honing their skills, being coached tactics and techniques by the best that we have, and also playing at a high level. I see them as playing at either Linlithgow or Livingston, since both are handy for Oriam and both offer good rail links for supporters travelling from our highest-populated areas - around Glasgow and Edinburgh - from where there'd surely be plenty of interested supporters. I'd expect there to be good interest from sponsors, given the media attention on a national team of the future. Furthermore, it'd put to bed the idea of Old Firm colts/B teams in the league. The issue over the inconsistency of a team of youths could be addressed by simply reversing the fixtures at the mid-point of the season, so that teams having the easier fixture against an inexperienced team of youths at the season's beginning would also have to face the hardest fixture of playing the youths towards the season's end - a bit more fair that way. The pilot would determine if this is the correct level to develop a team of our best youths, and whether promotion or relegation would be a factor if a Scotland Academy FC was to become a permanent feature in the leagues.
  7. Oh, I nearly forgot; there's just one more thing - If you consider that the Europa League may be expanding from 20211, the SPFL would be looking at having any restructure in place in time for an increased number of Scottish teams being able to qualify for that expanded tournament - so season 2020-21 would need to be the first year of any new structure. It is probably coincidence, but both the SPFL's main sponsorship2 and tv3 deals expire in 2020 - i.e. in time for new deals to be agreed alongside a new league structure from season 2020-21. The first evidence of this change was shown in a recent article4 on 'colt' teams in the league, where it was claimed that the bottom tier of the SPFL was going to be expanded to 18 teams in 'year 3' of a pilot scheme (which was due to begin next season): this would mean the SPFL are looking at an expanded bottom division beginning in season 2020-21, and it seems unlikely that would be the only change to the league's structure. If we really are looking at change from 2020-21, then next season will be the last of the current set-up - season 2019-20 will have to be a transition season, where teams are playing towards however many promotion/relegation places are available for the divisions of the new-look SPFL. 1 https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/celtic-chief-peter-lawwell-reveals-11527511 2 https://spfl.co.uk/news/article/spfl-retains-ladbrokes-as-title-sponsors/ 3 https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/916502/Scottish-Premier-League-Sky-Sports-TV-deal-Neil-Doncaster-football 4 https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/chris-mccart-gives-detailed-insight-11925894 Then again, 2 + 2 = 22. Sorry to have bothered you; I, eh, I appreciate your time.
  8. Hehe, caught me! I did that, but it's mostly from impressions that I've formed from years of looking at individual attendances and asking whether, say, Annan would have brought many supporters up to Arbroath or wherever - probably not, or not much more than 10% of their home support - and so arriving at whichever club's core home support by deducting that way. --- The regionalisation thing - I just look at the difference between the high attendances at the derby matches and low attendances at the matches against clubs from Timbuktu and my mouth waters. Obviously, too many derbies would kill them off for the fans in terms of interest but plenty of fans are happy to travel in good numbers fairly locally - because we are creatures of habit and would love to see a game every weekend if the distances/costs (time, money) weren't so prohibitive. Anyway, I'm clearly in a minority of one on these issues so i'll head back off to dreamland and leave youz in peace. (Also I am a hypocrite since I quit going to senior football a dozen years ago - it was too expensive and too repetitive; now just happy going to watch the local youths at the weekend, which is free, several matches to choose from, and I can leave after half an hour if I'm too cold, too bored or when my old knees are too sore from standing without feeling guilty about having wasted sixteen quid!) Cheers.
  9. Yes, i'll just produce that evidence when there isn't a regional set-up in the SPFL at the moment. Don't be silly! Yup one thing that I am suggesting is that full-time football in a regional league is possible, that greater local travelling supports would help to pay for it and so would reduced travel costs. You don't know that it doesn't work, because we haven't yet seen it. (And probably never will.) So would I - I think it'd be very instructive. Again, I think with Airdrie managing full time with their crowds in a part-time league, and Livingston doing so with a similar home support to yours, but with the larger away attendances, Arbroath may well manage full time football in tier 2. Interesting about Peterhead's attendances, because whenever I check in the papers on a Sunday they seem to be 700+.
  10. Fair enough, but I think Airdie's full-time-with-youngsters set-up of last season has set the benchmark of what can be done with a limited (but healthy) home support of 700 or so. My view is that semi pro League clubs need to look seriously at this model because the alternative is looking like being the lower leagues full of colts teams. If the big clubs don't trust their youths to be developed by semi pro clubs because their development with these clubs is currently stunted by not being able to train full-time, then they're going to continue to push for the introduction of full-time colts teams into the lower leagues. If we want to avoid Project Grave and other such nonsense, then we really need to be looking at how we can 'blood' youths in a competitive first team environment whilst allowing them to train full-time throughout the week. Nope, but what I keep suggesting is that playing regionally is a more cost-effective model that curbs this sort of thing by lowering costs and bringing in more supporters. A previous post (not by you) dismissed travel for a semi pro Glasgow club to Stranraer or Peterhead as being effectively the same thing, even though trips to Peterhead and Elgin are twice as far as away trips to Stranraer and Annan - large savings are to be made by regionalising along east-west lines. Meanwhile, the travelling support attending semi pro clubs in a West Conference of 10 at tier 3 (for example) could be significantly boosted by the more local matches of: Alloa, Stirling, Stenhousemuir, Albion Rvs, Airdrie, Clyde, Dumbarton (if relegated, for Ayr promoted), Queen's Park, Stranraer and Annan. Clubs at this level could be making more money than they are and spending plenty less. I'm quite sure the advent of a senior Pollock would add more to their coffers also. Raith Rovers' core home support is closer to 1200, but you may have been looking at their average attendances from seasons where they have benefitted from being in a league with mostly full-time clubs and their larger travelling supports. Ayr United's would be about 1100 - both currently managing full-time football in a part-time league, I think. Peterhead regularly have 700+ of a home support, so based on the Airdrie model I included them as potentially full time. I agree about your lot as well who, as you say, also have very good attendances and who I think would benefit from being in an East region at tier 3, with Angus derbies regularly boosting attendances to over 1000, if I remember that correctly. I think you'd manage full time football well enough in a tier 2 surrounded by full-time clubs with larger travelling supports. Haha, take it they're not too chuffed with it then? As I said above, I think full-time-with-youngsters needs to be looked at by more clubs - for early player development towards the national team, and to stave off the big clubs and their colts ambitions. Bringing junior clubs through into the senior League will, I think, boost revenues for part-time clubs provided that it is done sensibly, through regionalisation. There's money being thrown away here, that the game could really do with. But, just my opinions.
  11. Interesting post - all news to me! I think with our League One and Two teams, the standard is pretty much the same across the two divisions save for the couple of full-timers who there's no room for in the current top 2 divisions; as far as that goes, I don't think there'd be an issue over knowing whether the leagues would be of a roughly equivalent standard/whether there'd be too many mismatches. I'm surprised it doesn't appeal to sponsors to have West and East divisions, given local radio (and now TV) coverage, and there's surely a bit more prestige to being the best in a region than to winning an oddly titled third tier. I could see the fluid boundary line potentially being an issue, which is why I suggested cross-conference fixtures to supplement the within-conference component - no derbies would be lost entirely, yet travel distances would be cut considerably. And local away supports could turn out in greater numbers for fixtures closer to home than for those middle-to-long distance journeys - giving more money for the semi pro clubs, in my opinion. Yep, I think you're probably about right with that set up initially. It'd allow for more full-time clubs in the top two divisions, and give a bit of stability for those promoted to tier 2 and hoping to establish themselves further. Obviously I'd like to see tier 3 regionalised, but I don't really think it'll happen. With the Europa League possibly undergoing an expansion* (from 2021, I think), it'd be good to have the top of the Premiership bottom section qualifying for any additional Europa League play-off spot, since some teams will be safe from relegation pretty early on in the post-split phase and so will need something to play for. I'd probably do it slightly different to you, though, in that for the top division I'd have a 5-9 split after 26 games with the top 5 then playing both home and away for 34 games each and the bottom 9 playing either home or away for 34 games each; in the second tier I'd turn that on its head, with a 9-5 split so that more teams would still be involved in the chase for promotion play-offs until the season's end and a bottom 5 'group of death' -type of scenario to avoid relegation to the third tier; with tier 3 - as you say - being 18 teams playing twice for 34 games in total. *https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/celtic-chief-peter-lawwell-reveals-11527511
  12. Yes, it is a (n intermittent) hobby for me - as it is for most of us who post around here; everyone has their prejudices and is entitled to try to discuss and explain them (I hope). I note your comments about Livingston, who are managing full-time football quite well at the moment with a core home support of 700-800 and decent away supports from the full-time clubs who they play almost fortnightly. As a 'new' club in a large town, I take them as comparable to East Kilbride and Cumbernauld. I'm also interested to see how Edinburgh City and Cove (assuming they'll be promoted) will do in terms of attracting more supporters over the long term in the SPFL. Since they are clubs of a metropolitan area (and Aberdeen is a 'one club city'), they might well attract enough support over the long term to go full-time. But the current SPFL league structure isn't conducive to progressing clubs towards full-time football, and perhaps even inhibits current full-timers from staying that way.
  13. If this is accurate, then your club would support full-time football quite comfortably in a tier 2 containing mostly full-time clubs. It would also manage full-time football in the current tier 3, if it opted for the full-time younger player model that Airdrie, with a core home support of maybe 750 or so, were operating last season.
  14. Doesn't the team bus travel to the away ground and back again, regardless of where some players live? It's probably a substantial recurring cost for clubs that can only be mitigated by playing in away matches that are closer to home.
  15. A 20 club tier 3 with parallel West and East conferences of 10 teams would probably work best if situated below the SPFL's preferred top two divisions of 12, since a 12-team tier 2 would give scope for each conference winner to be automatically promoted (with 2 relegated from the Championship) in addition to 10th in the Championship going into play-offs with 2nd and 3rd of each Conference: a 12-12-20 SPFL. In terms of the fixtures, using 'option 1' (from previous post) would be best used where local derbies would not fit into the same conference, and it would be best to keep within-conference fixtures until the season's end in order to give more meaning to those games that are head-to-heads within the same division for promotion/play off/relegation places. --- In a north east/south west split of clubs, I think those in the Forth 'valley' (Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk) would play in a West Conference. With the south-west to north-east trajectory of both the border and the base of the highlands meaning that the majority of Scotland's population lives in the band in-between, dividing into south-and-west/north-and-east regions may be reasonable. --- Within the current SPFL 42, if an 18-team (34-game) top tier could be agreed (as outlined in previous post) then the remaining 24 teams could compete in a semi-national second tier with West and East conferences of 12. Teams would play each team of their own conference both at home and away (22 games) and each in the other conference either at home or away (a further 12 games; 34 in total). This would give the full variety of fixtures of playing nationally whilst also having more derbies from playing within a 'local' conference. Although there could be half-a-dozen full time clubs playing within these largely part time conferences, there would be very good and frequent opportunities for them to be promoted to an enlargened top tier. In practice, I would have the fixtures as if it was a 24-team league where every team plays each other team once until they reached 23 games each; then the fixtures against those in the same conference would be reversed, so that the final 11 games would be head-to-heads within rivals of the same conference playing for promotion/play offs/relegation. I would also have the top team of each conference being promoted automatically (replacing bottom teams from the west and east respectively of the Premiership), with 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the West Conference playing off with 8th in the West Premiership; 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the East Conference would play off against 8th of the East Premiership (therefore, 2-4 promotion places to the Premiership). The bottom team from the West Conference would be relegated automatically, to be replaced by the winners of the West Lowland League; the bottom team from the East Conference would be replaced by the winner of a play off between the East Lowland League champions and the Highland League champions. The Lowland League could become part of a semi-regional tier 3, with a 10-team West LL playing each other both at home and away for 18 games and also playing teams from the East LL once, at home or away, to give a further 10 games and a 28-game season. The East LL would be set up to mirror this. In practice, the Lowland League would play their first round of fixtures as if one united league of 20 teams, so each team would play 19 games before the fixtures would be reversed - against those within their own West or East division - to give a final 9 games against within-conference rivals for promotion and relegation places. The Highland League would remain similar to its current format, but would open up to promotion from below. The Challenge Cup could then become a 24-team competition for those competing in the tier 2 Conferences, with a 16-team Round 1 before the 8 winners would play the 8 remaining sides, then the competition would continue though the rounds as normal. With a non-league trophy for those outwith the SPFL. So a top-of-pyramid of: 18 - 12/12 - 10/10/18 -
  16. I would imagine that both Bo'ness and Pollock would manage full-time football if they made it through to tier 2; for that matter, it'd be interesting to see if East Kilbride and Cumbernauld could do the same - I see them as similar to Livingston as a 'new' club from a well-populated area that could attract a decent support if in a higher league. From current SPFL clubs, Peterhead and maybe Arbroath, Stirling and Elgin have the home support to think about going full time if surrounded by full timers in the second tier. The point about playing regionally is really that local away supports can be 50% or more of the 'away' team's core home support, who are keen to attend a game involving their team that is just along the road. Yet perhaps only 10%* of a core home support is willing to travel for longer distances/times of, say, over an hour each way. (By 'core home support' I mean total attendance minus the away support, since average attendances can be very misleading as to the actual support that a club has.) In local matches, you can almost end up with two sets of home supports. The idea is to bolster the attendances at part time clubs through local matches/local away supports until the point where promotion leads to the bigger travelling supports of full time clubs filling the away end, at which point you can charge higher ticket prices; it is about continuity of income, and is a more sustainable model for semi professional clubs than playing nationally, relying on a payment from the SPFL and high ticket prices (which suppress supporter numbers) to fund a similar quality of player to the best of the non-leagues. The bottom line is that many people who are inclined to go to the football every week cannot do so because of the cost of travel - in terms of both time and money - is too prohibitive for them. So there is a dead-weight loss of money to the game (for full time clubs, too) due to an unnecessary number of fixtures being played on a national basis. No, I don't think that just because they are currently doing it, the SPFL clubs must have thought of everything or are necessarily doing the most astute thing financially. *Exceptions being the Old Firm because glory-hunting supporters, like weeds, can turn up anywhere; and Aberdeen because their much-heralded 'away' support are mostly exiles settled within the central belt for work, etc (for this reason, it is actually their home support that disproportionately small).
  17. I think there's an improvement to be made within the current SPFL set up, by the 20 clubs of Leagues One and Two dividing instead into two parallel divisions of 10 teams - a Conference West and a Conference East. There wouldn't need to be a fixed west-east boundary line, but rather it could change as the composition of the overall Conference changed. It could be an improvement on the current format because it would see all 20 teams at tier 3, and so each season they'd all start with a real chance of promotion to the Championship. I think this would bolster their support in contrast to potentially bleeding support for clubs that are presently stuck in tier 4 (in League Two) for season after season. It would also offer clubs a chance to build for future seasons without the current handicap of a very real prospect of demotion to tier 4/League Two. The conference winner, either West or East, with the highest points total could be promoted automatically to the Championship, thus offering an element of cross-conference rivalry and addressing the issue of a 'runaway' leader. Similarly, the team finishing with least points overall - regardless of which conference - would fall into the pyramid play off match. In terms of promotion play offs, the quarter finals could be: 2nd West v 3rd East and 2nd East v 3rd West; semi finals - winner QF1 v 9th in Championship, winner QF2 v remaining conference winner; final - winners of SF1 & SF2. There could be two options for the fixtures: 1) All 20 teams play every other team once at home and once away, giving 38 games each - but teams would remain in their own conference of 10 in terms of the league table. This would give the full variety of fixtures each season, but would cut down on local derby-type matches; it would also be fairest in terms of who qualifies for promotion/relegation since everyone has played the same opponents the same number of times. 2) The 20 teams play within their own conferences of 10, playing each opponent twice at home and twice away for a total of 36 games each. This would take advantage of the under-reported phenomenon of the local away support, with more local matches and so more revenue for the clubs involved, but would mean less variety of fixtures. They could swap between the two formats as regularly as they felt necessary to keep the competition fresh; there would also be fewer incidences of teams playing each other 5-6 times in a league season (that arises just now due to league matches-plus-play offs). This season, the Conferences could look like: East: Elgin, Peterhead, Montrose, Forfar, Arbroath, East Fife, Raith Rovers, Cowthenbeef, Edinburgh City and Berwick. West: Alloa, Stirling Albion, Stenhousehmuir, Albion Rvs, Airdrie, Clyde, Queen's Park, Ayr Utd, Stranraer and Annan Athletic, ...with Brechin likely to come into the East Conference and Dumbarton into the West for next season. If the format proved a success, then something similar to option 1 could be adopted in a Premiership of 18 teams in a 34-game season. The team finishing on the highest points total could claim the Champions' League Place, but the Champions (and trophy) could be the team winning play offs between the top 4 West and top 4 East sides, with the remaining European places decided in this way (within these play offs) also. For example: quarter finals - 1st East v 4th West, 2nd East v 3rd West, 3rd East v 2nd West, 4th East v 1st West; semis - winner QF1 v winner QF3, winner QF 2 v winner QF 4; final - two semi final winners. Overall, these changes might freshen up the SPFL by adding more opportunities for success (20 teams aiming for Championship; play offs at top of Premiership) and either more revenue from increased local matches (from local away supporters) or more variety of fixtures.
  18. Yeah, most fans of League One and Two clubs don't seem too keen on the regionalisation idea, but I wonder if their clubs are missing out on a fair bit of cash by not having more local matches. When you think that a high proportion of a core home support will happily turn out for a local away match, but only a small fraction will travel even for as much as an hour for more distant away matches, it seems to me that clubs are throwing away good money from higher away attendances by not embracing more local football. Part timers compete nationally, but not without money from the SPFL and high ticket prices to help them along. Is the junior model (local matches, lower prices) more sustainable/self- sustaining for semi pros? I was interested by Stuart Brown of Stirling Albion's comments in the Sunday Mail at the weekend, when being interviewed about the possible introduction of colts teams to League Two. He was concerned that they would lose the gate from 800-1000 fans in a more local match against Clyde or Stenhousemuir if League 2 went to 33 games in order to accommodate colts. It's difficult to square that concern with part time SPFL clubs' insistence on playing in national leagues, since playing regionally would give them proportionately more of those higher-attendance games (although it might be Alloa and East Stirlingshire rather than Clyde for them in a west-east split of the lowlands). For them it seems to be a decision based on the perceived status of competing in a national league, rather than the pragmatism of more money (from higher attendances and sponsorship) of playing in a competitive regional league.
  19. Yep. I don't really see the rationale behind semi-pro teams, where money is (by definition) short, traipsing around the country playing in national leagues; in cups, however, something more exotic with a bit of travel and visiting new grounds is enjoyable and can add more excitement. I'm a little surprised that the SPFL and LL semi-pro clubs haven't looked at dividing into West and East of Scotland Leagues at tier 3, which could be lucrative at that level and being champions of which would have more prestige than winning SPFL League One. Assuming that Ayr and Raith would be promoted if the SPFL have another go at voting for a top two divisions of 12, that would leave: 12 SPFL and LL clubs for a West of Scotland League; 20 SPFL and LL clubs, plus EoSFL clubs, for the East; and Peterhead and Elgin could play in a HL top division. The juniors could then slot in below, retaining their current structure. They wouldn't need to have any relegation from these tier 3 West, East and Highland leagues but, rather, continually expand them as more licenced clubs from the juniors were promoted, each regional League forming into divisions when numbers were sufficient. This would provide a pathway for the bigger junior clubs to come through without being an existential threat to current SPFL clubs, and would surely enrich them through the larger, more local travelling supports, more interest therefore more sponsorship revenues, and money saved through less unnecessary travelling around the country.
  20. I see your North League 1, 2 & 3 (from the pdf) being the current North Caley, junior North East and junior North West first divisions. But i'd have all 3 of them at tier 7 and feeding into the current North Superleague (at tier 6), which itself would feed into the the current Highland League. I'd have the Highland League and the North Superleague/Highland League 2 as 16-team divisions, with Fort William likely to be in the HL2 initially and, if poor enough, relegated into the equivalent of the current junior North West first division. ----- This is a bit random, but it seems it is still possible for a club to skip the SoSFL and EoSFL to be accepted directly into the Lowland League. Seemingly, if a club is promoted to the SPFL from the LL and no club is relegated to the LL from the SPFL, the LL place that becomes available is open to applicants. So, in theory, a licenced junior club such as Linlithgow could still skip tier 6 if LL members voted them in. But that doesn't appear likely this season due to the teams at the bottom of the SPFL all being lowlanders. (I was trawling through the LL constitution; it also says the LL won't go above 16 teams: http://slfl.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Scottish-Lowland-Football-League-Rules-Version-8.pdf)
  21. In a way, it'd be in the interests of Lowland League member clubs to establish a West feeder since the junior clubs coming through would make LL members more money through the increased sponsorship that a league with bigger clubs would attract and through the increased gate receipts from larger travelling supports. Also, the stronger the Lowland League becomes, the more likely the SPFL 42 are to vote for increased promotion/relegation between the LL and SPFL. Clearly there is the threat that junior/ex-junior clubs coming through would displace current LL member clubs, but this may take a couple of decades given current lack of promotion/relegation to/from the LL - and there is plenty of money to be made from a stronger league and to be invested in building their clubs in the mean time.
  22. Sorry Unknown Fan, I can see from my 'Notifications' that you've quoted me in this topic but the council's content checker on the public access PCs that I use hates P&B and doesn't always let me see the final page of threads and other pages for some reason...so I have no idea what you've written! Anyhow, I thought this was an interesting excerpt from Ormiston FC's website, about the availability of funding to teams in the EoSFL: "It was felt at the time of the merger that with the help of East Lothian Council improvements at the football ground could be made sufficient to gain membership of the Scottish Football Association and thereby entry to the Scottish Cup. The Local Authority, however, have been less than forthcoming with any help and in the meantime the SFA have moved the goal posts with regard to the facilities required for entry and our dream of being able to compete on a level playing field with the many Clubs in the East of Scotland who have this privilege seem further away than ever. It is a little known fact that those Clubs in the East of Scotland League which, by an accident of history, are also Full Members of the Scottish Football Association have, during the 26 years in which we have been in the East of Scotland League, received funding from the SFA well in excess of £225,000 while we have received nothing." http://www.ormistonfc.co.uk/content.php?pg=gct&pd=37 I may be misinterpreting it, but it says to me that the SFA's coffers wouldn't necessarily be affected at all by a fully integrated pyramid - even if all the juniors, etc moved across.
  23. I could see the SFA believing that argument, but I wonder if it stands up to scrutiny? Surely the majority of clubs in the juniors, amateurs and elsewhere are really just focused on fulfilling fixtures, playing locally in the league and hoping for something more exotic in the cup: I wouldn't have thought licencing was even on the horizon for any more than, say, a couple of dozen clubs over the next few years. That wouldn't be too much of a drain on the SFA's resources - or would it? ----- A team from as far west as Clydebank entering the EoSFL does make the pyramid look a bit farcical; maybe that's what the SFA need to give them a kick up the bum over the issue. I would think it'd make more sense for them to enter the SoSFL if they're looking for a speedy promotion, since there's nothing in the South of the quality of LTHV, who could quite easily block promotion for years to come. Travel costs, general quality of league, etc would have to come a distant second to a quick promotion to the LL, which may even be automatic for licenced South winners if unlicenced LTHV win in the East. I realise that Clydebank aren't licenced yet, but I take it that it is mandatory for the East of Scotland and South of Scotland leagues to accept applications from any club that is licenced - since the SFA want any club gaining a licence to commit to the pyramid, anything else would be a double standard... --Edit-- ...the point being that the East and South of Scotland leagues could never be said to be 'full' since they will always have to take on any newly licenced members in their 'region' (whatever that is). You'd expect the same to be true of the Highland League, and I wonder how hard Banks o' Dee have tried to enter the HL. According to the HL constitution it would take a written application from any prospective member, which would be considered at the AGM before the end of May. Surely there'd be recourse for any licenced rejected applicant, such as Banks o'Dee or Golspie Sutherland, to appeal to the SFA since being licenced gives them a right to enter the pyramid. http://www.highlandfootballleague.com/History/Item/2017-18 SHFL Constitution & Rules approved by the AGM on 29 May 2017.pdf (see paragraphs 2.2 and 6.5)
  24. Hehe, it wouldn't be a surprise if they did something like that! But a quick search of 56,4513N on google shows many results dated from years ago referencing the same latitude, as does the HL website link I posted a bit further up this page. It seems that us guerrilla fact-checkers were, on this occasion, egregiously wrong (normal state of affairs for me). Could do, but I would hope that clubs based near the border/marches could be accommodated wherever they felt it was easier for them to play (distribution of opponents may be different in juniors to seniors for Montrose clubs?).
  25. ^ Nae bother. I was just concerned that they had opted out based on a misunderstanding. ------ I checked the location of the lowland/highland divide on Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 382 (Arbroath, Montrose & Carnoustie) North Sheet. 56 45 13 N is about where the River North Esk meets Montrose Bay, or at the southern-most tip of Aberdeenshire. So it seems that any SPFL club from Angus relegated to the non-league would all along have been relegated to the Lowland League, and that non-league clubs from Angus and Dundee would have been/would be eligible for the Lowland League route into the SPFL.
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