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Everything posted by Cornishman

  1. There have been many splendid ideas and proposals aired on this thread (which I've 'lurked' on for some time!). I'd now like to present my own modest proposal... If one arranges a Division first into two (random?/regional?/league-place-ordered?) Conferences, followed by a halfway split & recombination into an 'upper/lower' pair of Conferences, one may operate Divisions with precisely 4/3rds. the number of teams in them compared to regular double-round-robin structured Divisions. This works as long as the total number of teams is divisible by four and results of all head-to-heads among qualified teams from the preliminary Conferences are retained in the upper/lower Conferences. Ergo, we could have 24-team Divisions, playing a 34-match season... &/or... 28-team Divisions, playing a 40-match season. That would respectively give 22/26 games each in the preliminary Conferences; 6/7 teams carry over their 10/12 head-to-head results; then the upper/lower Conferences kick-off with halfish-completed league tables and are finished via the teams playing their final 12/14 games versus those they've not yet played in the present season. 22+12/26+14. The 'Premer Division' can, of course, be 'fixed' to provide the Glasgow OF pair with their four fixtures against each other (presuming that they both end up in the same upper or lower Conference for the end of season run-in!). Advantages of this system... (i)... Allows 1/3rd. more teams to compete in higher prestige League matches. (ii).. Can provide high-interest derby matches in the first period of the season - if Conferences are split regionally. (iii). The first period of the season Conferences 'split' exactly halfway through the middle, providing for that split to be made right at the point where statistically the highest number of teams with the closest points totals reside. Creating extra will-they/won't-they excitement for very many fans. (iv).. The system provides a natural break at just the right time of year for the 'winter break' (v)... There will be 'peril' for the last-placed team in the upper Conference, in the form of having to participate in promotion/relegation playoffs. There will also be 'reward' to be earned - in the form of playoffs for the top-2 in the lower Conference toward gaining Europa League entry. (vi).. The upper Conference would be competing for the usual prizes & European competition entry, noting that the lowest of the would-be Europa League qualifiers would still be required to win playoffs versus the two best teams from the lower Conference (EoS-2018-19-style probably). Depending on the number of relegation places decreed in the League's rules; here I'm assuming four direct relegations and one or two playoff places; there will be a 'direct relegation line' drawn above the fourth-from-bottom position and a 'playoff zone line' drawn above either the 5th./6th.-from-bottom position - that dependent on whether a preliminary playoff be required between 6th.-bottom and 12th. from the upper Conference. (vii). Competition prize money will be awarded strictly pro-rata, based on 'total points won over the 34/40 matches of the season'. Disadvantages of this system... (i)... The pattern of matches to be played might be a little tricky to understand by some, particularly in its inception season. Well, there you have it. Not really that complex, yet still exercising for the old grey matter! I would allow for just the one national Division, with each subsequent tier dividing the tier above in half in regional, then area and maybe district based Divisions/Conferences. I'd suspect that the 24-team model would be more popular than the 28-team one. If someone wishes to illustrate my model with spreadsheets/maps - feel free. It's not copyrighted and doing such things exceeds my capabilities! lol. Hope folks enjoy perusing and pondering on my modest model.
  2. Pyramid 2019/2020

    Sorry, mcruic. There will probably never be more than two direct regional feeders into the SPFL - the latter originally baulked the two-feeder idea and only upon the creation of the LFL did they unwillingly come into line step.
  3. Give us Georgia, godsdammit!
  4. Pyramid 2019/2020

    Average English 'tier 5' attendance for 2018-19 was just under 2000.
  5. New clubs in the East of Scotland

    If Premier gains an LL club without promoting one back, let it play with 17 club membership for the following season, adding one extra relegation place for that following season. Regular relegation ought to be bottom three + fourth-bottom to participate in a play-out versus three First Division teams. In First Division, three champions promoted + three sets of playoffs between 2nd. to 5th.-placed sides, the three winners of which then join Premier-13th. in that play-out. If any First Division teams in top-5 cannot for any reason accept a promotion, then qualification in their division would simply drop by one place. If more than one club cannot accept promotion, then after the above, the playoff 'zone' would be reduced accordingly, never taking lower than 6th.-place finishers. In the first instance, the topmost playoff qualifier would receive a bye in the first playoff round. Were a First Division to entirely fail to produce a champion, it would be unable also to provide a playoff challenger. In this case, direct relegation would be reduced by one and the reprieved 14th.-placed team would instead join the 13th.-placed team in the play-outs. If that First Division instead promotes a champion, but has no playoff candidate, then Premier-13th. team will receive a bye in the first play-out round. For any further 'inabilities to promote, priority will then be given to reprieves, dropping play-out places down the Premier table and sorting playoff qualifiers on a PPG basis. NB* - 'Champion' in above references implies 'highest placed First Division team which is able to accept promotion'!
  6. A fully integrated pyramid system - Proposal

    This is a fine effort but alongside other commenters, I think that the B-team/Colts inclusion should be canned. A major problem I perceive with the Pyramid idea is that it's all fine and well providing promotion opportunities, but what one is being promoted into must be an attractive proposition in the first place... and personally, I don't think the SPFL structure is all that attractive. Barely more than half of clubs in the SPFL appear capable of sustaining full-time professionalism and it's my contention that maybe the SPFL should 'trim' itself down and concentrate these into two nationwide divisions of say 12 Premier & 18 Division 1 clubs - allowing some space here for the stronger semi-professionals. The remaining dozen clubs would be embraced into the current HL/LL tier of 2x 18 clubs, with ten dropping from this level into the first properly non-league tier which would be formed from the backbone of the present SJFL topmost divisions, topped-up by a few EoSL clubs. In the interests of both league strength parity and footprint hinterland equality, I'd reset the borderline between North Region and the others to the determinant of travel proximity to either Perth/Dundee on one hand and Stirling/Queensferry on the other (which would also apply to the HL/LL tier above). This would add about 15/16 clubs to the North, while the East Region would partially mitigate its loss in numbers from the West Region. The SoSL, North Caledonian League and lower EoSL clubs would be absorbed at appropriate tiers in the remaining SJFL set up.
  7. A fully integrated pyramid system - Proposal

    Groundhoppers have a general 'rule' that they follow in which they can estimate playing strengths of unknown teams; at least throughout Europe; which while not perfect can be surprisingly accurate... They compare average crowds as it's a truism that across the continent, clubs with similar spectator attractiveness tend to operate at similar playing strengths.
  8. Moving to Juniors or Pyramid?

    Are (m)any other Amateurs seriously considering 'doing a Gartcosh' in the near future?
  9. The East Kilbride FC Thread

    Going back to the mid to late '70s in (as Zimbabwe was then known) Rhodesia, there was a team called, 'Glens Strikers' who competed in the Rhodesia National Football League (Northern Section) Division 5 in the '76 season. That year they won 34 straight League matches, most by a margin of 10-20 goals and a couple exceeding 20. They were jump-promoted to Division 2 for the '77 season and repeated another 100% win record over 38 more League games, most victories now in the 6 to 12 goal margin. In the '78 season, again jump-promoted two levels, they finally met with some matching resistance in their new (Northern Section) Premier Division League surroundings and now, entry into the RNFA Cup. In this season they still won all but four of 38 League matches, drawing the others and then went on to win playoffs for the right to enter the RNFL's flagship National Division. They were defeated just the once in the Cup, having been drawn against strong National Division opponents. In the '79 season, they were a poor to middling outfit in the National Division and after that, I lost track of footie in that country. That was an admirable playing record most certainly, but to be honest even that cannot be guaranteed being 'THE' Zimbabwean record, as runs such as these are reasonably common in African organised lower divisional football, and must also be so in equivalent echelons worldwide! For reference purposes, ignoring top-level professional African teams, most football there is strictly of Scottish amateurs-equivalent status.
  10. Highland League restructuring

    But that ignores the fact that the SPFL will not sanction a three feeder Level-5 and needed much persuasion to accept the two feeder system. Only way around it that I see is a hybrid LL structure with 24 teams that are split into West & East Conferences, playing 22 matches up to the New Year. After that, the two top-6s are recombined, carrying over just their head-to-head records, then each of the Wests plays each of the Easts home/away in a further round dozen games. The two bottom-6s could be similarly recombined, or each might just carry on playing a second ten match round robin to add to their prior head-to-heads. Season would be 34 (or 32) matches long, equating to the HL schedule. Juniors 'get' their 2x LLs & only six away matches outside their subregion in the second part of the season. SPFL should be satisfied (-ish) with this structure, hopefully not pulling the plug on the promotion/relegation play-off because of it.
  11. Highland League restructuring

    Splendid proposal... but is neglecting/ignoring the Tay boundary, which really ought to be factored in. Excluding Jeanfield, Kinnoul, Luncarty & Scone - all whom could be included, there are 15 East Region clubs North of the Tay. Were these fifteen, plus the eight NCL clubs persuaded/co-opted into the North Junior set up, it would become 60-teams strong. That would allow the North Juniors to operate their league clubs' distribution the same way as the East Juniors currently operate. i.e. a 'top division' + middle division + two regional bottom divisions. These would be of 16, 16, 14 & 14 clubs respectively. I'd envisage East Juniors' losses compensated by absorbing the 11 EoS clubs, plus about 10/12 West Junior transfers as the latter absorb the 14 SoS clubs. All three Regions would thus 'own' 60-70 clubs each. Based on 2015-16 finishing positions (excepting Montrose Roselea's awkward Region jump!) , the North Region set up would resemble something like:- Premier Division Banks o' Dee Broughty Athletic Carnoustie Panmure Culter Deveronside Downfield Juniors Dufftown Dundee Violet Dyce Juniors Forfar West End Hall Russell United Hermes Inverness City Lochee United Maud Juniors Stonehaven Juniors First Division (Aberdeen)* East End Banchory St. Ternan Blairgowrie Juniors Buchanhaven Hearts Buckie Rovers Colony Park Dundee East Craigie Dundee North End Ellon United Forres Thistle Fraserburgh United Islavale Kirriemuir Thistle Nairn St. Ninian Newburgh Thistle Stoneywood Parkvale West Division Alness United Burghead Thistle Fochabers Juniors Forres Thistle Golspie Sutherland Halkirk United Invergordon Inverness Athletic (Kirkwall)* Orkney Nairn St. Ninian New Elgin Spey Valley United Tain St. Duthus Thurso East Division Aberdeen University Arbroath Victoria Brechin Victoria Coupar Angus Cruden Bay Juniors Forfar Albion Glentanar Lewis United Lochee Harp Longside Montrose Roselea Newmachar United Sunnybank Whitehills *- Bracketed = location info. only, not indicating name change! Personally, I think this set up could work really well and serve as an excellent feeder to the HFL. If need be it retains spare room to absorb four more clubs; thinking if/when the HFL has to 'shed' an occasional club; and if using three 'levels' of the football system is deemed too many layers, then 'Premier' & 'First' might otherwise instead be combined and also split regionally or the 'First', 'West' & 'East' combined to split 'West', 'East' & 'South'. Either model would work. The North Region's top division should be very much strengthened in comparison with those of the other two Regions, although probably still somewhat beneath par. I may do a quick study on what East & West Regions look like if the North was boosted as above... but not right now as it's wee hours already! Critique welcome.
  12. Predictor 6th August

    Dalbeattie Star 0 - 1 Cumbernauld Colts East Kilbride 4 - 0 Selkirk East Stirlingshire 2 - 0 Vale of Leithen Gala Fairydean Rovers 1 - 1 University of Stirling Gretna 2008 4 - 1 Civil Service Strollers Hawick Royal Albert 2 - 1 Whitehill Welfare Preston Athletic 0 - 2 BSC Glasgow Spartans 5 - 0 Edinburgh University

    There IS a 'hybrid' league structuring idea out there which could possibly answer a fair few of the LL's problems concerning engagement with both the East/West Juniors and the SPFL. Firstly, the SPFL isn't going to buy into a three-Region feeder system; the two-Region HL/LL system was already a huge compromise upon the SPFL's (or predecessor's) part, as they were originally only interested in there being a single nationwide feeder. After which, we all know the Juniors' hangup on this issue. The hybrid idea will sew together both sides of these opposing demands with hopefully a little bit of cooperation and willingness to compromise. The league would need to be expanded to 24 teams which would play over two separate phases, divided perhaps by a winter break. Phase 1 would split the 24 into East & West Conferences of 12, each completing the normal complete double round robin of 22 matches. Phase 2 would then see the top-6 from both Conferences being re-pooled into a new 'Championship Conference', each team retaining (just) the results previously garnered against the other 5 teams in this new Conference whom they played against in Phase 1. Phase 2 fixtures would then simply resolve into H/A matches versus the 6 teams not already played against = 12 more matches for a 34-match season. Also in Phase 2 the two Regional bottom-6s could (i) be recombined into a 'Relegation Conference', competed over the same terms as above. OR, (ii) the two regional bottom-6's could simply stay separated and complete a second complete double round robin of a further 10 matches. Giving a 32-match total. A third, more complex idea would be to combine each of the Regional bottom-6s with top-6s from wholly Regional subsidiary divisions... but ultimately following this path will always make sub-regionalisation at successive lower levels quite awkward, without at some level having to invoke (ii) above anyway. While this hybrid concept is a little left-field at first glance, it's actually pretty similar to the SPFL's Premiership schedule ~ substituting a 2nd. Phase 2 RR for the 3rd. Phase 1 RR. It supports advantages, too, over & above extra 'Phase winner' Trophies. The split at halfway down the table at end of Phase 1 is 'special' as approaching the 22nd. game the battle for 6th. or better places will on statistical average involve the greatest number of teams. Ergo spread spectator interest further.

    There IS a 'hybrid' league structuring idea out there which could possibly answer a fair few of the LL's problems concerning engagement with both the East/West Juniors and the SPFL. Firstly, the SPFL isn't going to buy into a three-Region feeder system; the two-Region HL/LL system was already a huge compromise upon the SPFL's (or predecessor's) part, as they were originally only interested in there being a single nationwide feeder. After which, we all know the Juniors' hangup on this issue. The hybrid idea will sew together both sides of these opposing demands with hopefully a little bit of cooperation and willingness to compromise. The league would need to be expanded to 24 teams which would play over two separate phases, divided perhaps by a winter break. Phase 1 would split the 24 into East & West Conferences of 12, each completing the normal complete double round robin of 22 matches. Phase 2 would then see the top-6 from both Conferences being re-pooled into a new 'Championship Conference', each team retaining (just) the results previously garnered against the other 5 teams in this new Conference whom they played against in Phase 1. Phase 2 fixtures would then simply resolve into H/A matches versus the 6 teams not already played against = 12 more matches for a 34-match season. Also in Phase 2 the two Regional bottom-6s could (i) be recombined into a 'Relegation Conference', competed over the same terms as above. OR, (ii) the two regional bottom-6's could simply stay separated and complete a second complete double round robin of a further 10 matches. Giving a 32-match total. A third, more complex idea would be to combine each of the Regional bottom-6s with top-6s from wholly Regional subsidiary divisions... but ultimately following this path will always make sub-regionalisation at successive lower levels quite awkward, without at some level having to invoke (ii) above anyway. While this hybrid concept is a little left-field at first glance, it's actually pretty similar to the SPFL's Premiership schedule ~ substituting a 2nd. Phase 2 RR for the 3rd. Phase 1 RR. It supports advantages, too, over & above extra 'Phase winner' Trophies. The split at halfway down the table at end of Phase 1 is 'special' as approaching the 22nd. game the battle for 6th. or better places will on statistical average involve the greatest number of teams. Ergo spread spectator interest further.
  15. 14 team "Premiership" next season

    And now for something completely different... Split the 42 SPFL clubs into a 24 team top division & 18 team secondary division. The top division is drawn into two 12-team conferences, probably best done on a semi random basis ~ one conference anchored on the OF duo, the other on the Edinburgh clubs. The highland duo and Dundee pair could alternate between conferences each season. The remaining 16 teams divided randomly, but with as many local rivalries preserved as best possible. These conferences would both split after 22 games, with both top-sixes recombining, ditto the bottom-sixes - to form a Championship and a Relegation conference. Within the latter pair of divisions, the results of (the ten) matches already played against those teams progressing with them would be retained by each of the six teams coming from the same previou conference. Then each team plays 12 more matches in its new conference, home & away versus the six teams not already played against. Everyone's league schedule would consist of 34 matches. The secondary division would be a straight up home/away round-robin of 34 matches. Promotion/relegation would be 4-up/4-down between the Relegation conference and the secondary division, the final place to be settled by play-off/play-out. An intruiging alternative idea that would give most 'diddies' their occasional chance versus the 'biggies'.
  16. 14 team "Premiership" next season

    From the diagram you see the two 4-team groups are actually split more logically thus:- One group of 7th., 10th., 11th. & 14th. Other group of 8th., 9th., 12th. & 13th. which effectively best equalises the average-team-strength between the two groups.
  17. I'm writing as an interested non-SFA/SJFA-aligned observer from outside Scotland. NB - This opens with a lot of SPFL discussion, but bear with it, as it reaches non-league issues as it progresses... I can clearly see that 'The Pyramid' in Scotland; while utterly needed and created in a well-meaning way; has been bumbled together with a major lack of insight. It doesn't need to stay that way. That which has been put together so far is not a bad place to start from, to begin creating a 'proper' Pyramid that everyone can appreciate and enjoy. That process will in its course also address some perceived gripes with the current set-up and hopefully solve them. Firstly. The SPFL point-blank refuses to engage with relegation from its bottom tier, unless its relegatees are guaranteed at very least semi-national competition, meaning there should be no more than two feeder 'zones'. This clashes with the traditionally historic and holistic three-way separation of the country's non-league footballing 'zones'. Secondly, in the SPFL itself there are only 42 teams and these are split vertically into four distinct national tiers, which whilst a working paradigm, leaves much to be desired in terms of limiting opportunity for lower tier clubs to reach the higher tiers (too many promotions required). [ii] geographic footprint size in the lowest tier(s). [iii] boring fixture repetition in the inevitable double round robin match schedule. This is countered by there being a doubling in the number of championships to be won (compared to a more 'normal' two-tier divisional split for 42 teams) and a concomitant increase in relegation places - both factors creating more interest. However, the central argument for 'delivering fewer meaningless games' that spawned this four tier development remains deeply suspect, as in fact it is & has been statistically far more usual for these smaller divisions to continue to present 'normal' deviations from the mean (in points-scoring) than the 'bunching' of points-scoring that had been (erroneously) expected by the four tier proponents. All in all, compounded with that double round robin, it meant teams would on average just become separated by greater points differences than before - thus nullifying the expected beneficial effect. Almost all of these 'problems' could be wiped out by the expedient of absorbing (maybe as many as) 24 of the top non-league clubs into the SPFL system over a number of seasons. For illustrative purposes I'll deal with three seasons, with eight inductees per season. Season 0: SPFL structure:- 12-10-10-10 Season 1: SPFL structure:- 12-18-10N/10S Season 2: SPFL structure:- 12-18-14N/14S Season 3: SPFL structure:- 12-18-18N/18S Note that SPFL sponsorship(s) should increase on the basis that the publicity reach has so expanded! There should be no question of dilution here, with on-the-ball SPFL negotiators. Also, SPFL having now been boosted to 66 clubs, the lowest 36 already playing semi-national football, the relegation transition to a three-region non-league should be acceptable. Admittedly, this would take away the HFL & LFL in their present forms, but the former could readily reform itself with intakes from the SJFA North region & NCL. There'd be no need to reform the LFL, as its rump members, alongside the EoSL/SoSL would integrate into the SJFL East/West regions. This ought accord well with the SJFL, bringing them to the pinnacle of the non-league game in East & West regions, and in all but name in the North region, plus they would all then occupy the new fourth tier (from fifth/sixth), with the further advantage of semi-national play should their champions choose to step up to the third tier SPFL divisions. Of course, that chestnut of 'where an ex-SJFL relegatee should drop to in the SJFL system' would immediately be solved - as they could not be dealt with differently to the traditional SPFL clubs! Also, as in lower reaches of the English Pyramid, there would be enshrined a 'right to refuse' promotion, with a proviso that a 2nd./3rd. or maybe even 4th.-placed club could be invited to go up - and that would be direct promotion, not subject to play-offs methinks. This would usually provide three promotees, so perhaps there could be an SPFL play-out between its two third tier 17th.-placed clubs, loser drops out. Perhaps even winner to play-offs vs. three 2nd.-invitees from the three SJFA top divisions? I could see that work! I cannot see any (obvious) flaws in this idea, but I'm happy to be proved wrong, discuss at length and try to overcome objections. Likewise, clarify if I've confused on any issue. What would this all look like in practice? Based on end of last season... SPFL Premier I've assumed would remain unchanged. SPFL Championship Airdrieonians Albion Rovers Alloa Athletic Brechin City Cowdenbeath Dumbarton Dunfermline Athletic Falkirk Forfar Athletic Greenock Morton Hibernian Livingston Peterhead Queen of the South Raith Rangers St. Mirren Stranraer SPFL Division 1 North Arbroath Brora Rangers Buckie Thistle Clachnacuddin Cove Rangers Deveronvale East Fife Elgin City Formartine United Forres Mechanics Fraserburgh Inverurie Loco Works Montrose Nairn County Stirling Albion Turriff United University of Stirling Wick Academy SPFL Division 1 South Annan Athletic Ayr United Berwick Rangers BSC Glasgow Clyde Dalbeattie Star East Kilbride East Stirlingshire Edinburgh City Edinburgh University Gala Fairydean Rovers Gretna 2008 Queen's Park Selkirk Spartans Stenhousemuir Vale of Leithen Whitehill Welfare HFL/SJFA North Premier Banks o' Dee Culter Deveronside Dyce Juniors FC Stoneywood Fort William Golspie Sutherland Halkirk United Hermes Huntly Inverness City Keith Lossiemouth Maud Juniors Rothes Strathspey Thistle SJFA/SoSL West Premier Arthurlie Auchinleck Talbot Beith Juniors Glenafton Athletic Hurlford United Irvine Meadow XI Kilbirnie Ladeside Kirkintilloch Rob Roy Lochar Thistle Newton Stewart Petershill Pollok Shettleston St Cuthbert Wanderers Troon Wigtown & Bladnoch SJFA/EoSL East Premier Bo'ness United Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic Broxburn Athletic Cumbernauld Colts Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare Fauldhouse United Hill of Beath Hawthorn Kelty Hearts Leith Athletic Linlithgow Rose Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale Newtongrange Star Penicuik Athletic Preston Athletic Sauchie Juniors Threave Rovers Not exactly how it'd look if, as I stated above, its development were staged over three seasons, but the illustration's enough to let you get the right general impression. It could, of course be developed more slowly - say, over six seasons, inducting four teams per season. As long as divisional memberships were kept at 10 (36 match season); 14 (39 match season) or 18 (34 match season) throughout it would work just fine. Even an odd 12 (33 match season) would remain acceptable in the build-up process.
  18. How to progress 'The Pyramid'

    I agree your first point. It may no longer be as clear cut, however there's a helluva lot of inertia against 'League' teams having to drop out of 'national competition' if relegated... and I recall much ado five or more years past about this, basically becoming one of the founding precepts for forming a semi-national division akin the HFL to accommodate those relegatees for whom the HFL would not be 'a fit'. I'm afraid I'm unable to quote chapter and verse, sorry. Your second point may well be valid, but it's palpably not the only 'scuttling measure' in town; naming no names. I strongly suspect that despite these spiking-guns attempts, the SFA will eventually prove to have almost all such parties/cliques over a proverbial barrel before too long. I do not think the SFA is prepared to be long thwarted in their organisational plans. I have no illusions that progress will be made at any rapid pace, surely it will be a long drawn out attrition. I DO think that if not very careful, the SJFAs might well achieve the Pyrrhic victory of retaining their own largely unaltered structures - but doing so will see these slowly slipping down the reorganised levels of the game, not because there'll be any tacit punishment for failure to engage, no. Rather, the available players of particular levels of skill, until recently happy to ply their trade in the Juniors, will now find more opportunities to do so within the slowly expanding ranks of the evolving Senior Pyramid. If Junior clubs don't begin to fill the LFL (Premier Division, we'll call it.), then it'll be the BSC Glasgow & Edusports Academy clones plus Cumbernauld Colts & East Kilbride wannabes who will begin filling the inevitable LFL West & LFL East feeder divisions... taking away yet more players from the not infinite pool that the Juniors depend upon! It's simply all about better mousetraps in the end. Mark me, writing has been writ deep upon the wall. Remember: I'm apologist for neither side, Junior or Senior. This is just my predictive opinion on how I perceive the situation to be actively evolving. True, my OP model IS an 'utopianist' dream, hoping for a 'best possible compromise' between all parties - it's also attempting to be reasonably realistic, too. I've tried to put as much careful thought and willingness to compromise into the idea as I can - but I DO hear and respect others opinions upon mistakes/improvements... and will always try to respond creatively to solve any found.
  19. How to progress 'The Pyramid'

    Oh, I agree. Problem is that in real-life the SPFL only countenance a two-way split extremely reservedly, while any three or more-way split is summarily dismissed. While my model is 'fantasy', it does attempt to address not just the geographic reality, but also the rather inert, intransigent attitude of the SPFL too. It's a compromise solution. A shedload of compromises, in fact. The SPFL keeps its four sets of championship contests v. non-league top divisions shuffled-up to Level 4. SPFL sacrifices national play at Level 3 v. wholesale promotion of 8 clubs to national Level 2. SPFL agrees 3 or 4 relegations to non-league v. bottom of Level 3 'buffered' by influx of 24 non-league clubs. Juniors guaranteed top-division non-league placement, retaining all three traditional Regions. Junior promotees to SPFL insulated from national play upon promotion. Non-league promotion still optional, extended to invite perhaps as far down as 3rd./4th.-place if champions/runners-up defer. Final (4th.) SPFL relegation place by playoff (if required), following Level 3 17th. v. 17th. play-out. Those are the basics, based upon the current realities taken to logical conclusions, steered just so, with as little disruption as possible. Of course, some Junior clubs could be accommodated at a higher entry level in the envisaged process, but the illustration IS; as mentioned; just showing the idealised, least disruption scenario, and more, is over-simplified to show the system as it would have looked were it for this 2015-16 season, and introduced in one fell swoop instead of partially over three seasons as is actually intended. To the commenter querying Ayr United's position: The illustration is based on end-2014-15 positions.
  20. How to progress 'The Pyramid'

    Oh, indeed. However, it's now an incontrovertible fact that the LFL will hereon be senior to the whole Junior organisation, and; much like the English Northern League who failed to engage & integrate with the Pyramid when they were equal in status to the Northern Premier League; the Juniors will become systemically further & further sidelined the longer they take, dropping Levels in the Pyramid as years pass. It would likely have been very different, with probably 8-10 Juniors initially elected into the LFL alongside a half dozen of the best EoSL/SoSL teams by now, had they just made the necessary 'leap of faith' ~ which is not such an unattractive supposition. However, it didn't happen, so the situation is as visualised above. Comme si, comme ca! And as regards the North... yep, that's definitely so to begin with, but after 5-10 seasons the gap would close. It took the English Alliance League (later Conference, now National League) several seasons before the prior season's FL relegatee failed to win immediate promotion. It would be very similar here.
  21. It'll be Cove Rangers vs. Edinburgh City first up, followed by the winners vs. East Stirlingshire, methinks. I think it's noticeable how 'tightened up' Division Two's become this season, now that the fact of playoffs has had a season to sink in! Last season it always felt like the playoffs weren't 'real', just 'a rumour' like. I guess that Montrose's experience, close shave or not, kinda brought a few folks a number of pigeons home to roost?
  22. Promotion

    Tier5 in Scottish footie should ideally be split into four regions, encompassing the LL, the HL and the best of the Juniors. There should be no arbitrary boundaries drawn between them, allowing these to 'nip and tuck' as required on a seasonal basis. Each Regional League ought to contain sixteen teams as an ideal, and participation; in the first instance; should not require even the tepid licensing requirements currently set-out for continuing HL/LL participation. Participation in Tier5 should by itself allow for Scottish Cup (SC) entry in the earliest rounds, while licensing achievement (qualifying the holder to apply for promotion) should also give a two-round advantage in entry point to the SC. Promotion-prospects:- should allow any team finishing in the top-3 of each Tier5 Regional League the right to apply for promotion, actual elevation being restricted to one per Region, per season ~ higher-finishers taking precedence. The four Tier5 Regions would roughly correspond with SE, SW, N & Fife/Tay areas, although exact boundaries would be kept flexible. The remaining Juniors, SoS, EoS & North Caledonian clubs, plus ambitious Amateurs would reform 'feeder' Leagues/Divisions to the four Regional Tier5 Leagues. Those might be 'connected' Divisions Two, or separate feeder competitions and would in all likelihood each be further sub-regionalised. Suitable promotion/relegation relations would be emplaced between Tier5 & Tier6. Promotions & relegations into Tier5 would be 'to the most geographically appropriate' Division in every case, allowing for transient boundary movement. I'd propose an initial moratorium upon relegation from the SPFL, to firstly allow an influx of 'fresh blood', expanding by two teams per season (inter-Region play-offs) for three seasons ~ thus affording regular SPFL clubs a 'cushion' against being relegated into non-nationwide divisions... until the number of SPFL clubs reaches a maximum of 48 teams (allowing a switch to a 12-18-18 breakdown). Once that number has been attained, then I'd like to see a new Tier4 of 2x16 developed from the best of the then-current Tier5 clubs, with promotions to replace cascading downward... Throughout this several-season process no club would have unwanted promotion forced upon them, or licensing attainment ~ although in the latter case achievement of licensing would have advantages attaching in terms of SC entry level (maybe extended to the Junior Cup too) in the first instance, and later-on in the process would have implications for keeping a place in Tier5... Come the end of this period, no licensed club should be held back from attaining/keeping a Tier5 place, otherwise to be occupied by an unlicensed club. Quite how that'd work is moot, but I could see a case for relegating one (lowest positioned) unlicensed Tier5 club per Region, per season if otherwise that Region would lose say, more than one licensed club under 'normal' relegation rules. In this way, the licensing requirements could be brought-in over a much lengthier transitional period, with emphasis on 'carrot' rather than 'stick'. Every club would have the opportunity to play at whichever level they desired, without onus on unwanted promotion, while still ensuring against 'bottlenecking' by allowing promotion opportunities to devolve to at least third-place in the table. Should any Division still suffer from such a problem occaisionally, then perhaps teams finishing in 4th./5th. places could be considered for promotions ~ perhaps stipulating winning a play-off against the highest-placed of the Tier4 to-be-relegated teams? Well, that's my vision of what ought to happen. Shoot me down in flames!
  23. Lowland League comparison

    The 'gorilla in the room' within the system is really the SFA licencing issue. This is all very much like the situation with the top-driven ground-grading program in the English pyramid, driven largely by the Taylor report. The problem being the very fact that it's all top-down driven, thus enforcing grading standards on teams which are costly and very much out-of-whack with the teams' functions and experiences. Take the FL-entry criterion of a 3000-capacity stadium, to have enclosed spectator facilities on a minimum of three sides, with a minimum amount of seating required, with at least one bank of that seating itself subject to another minimum number ruling (sorry, don't have those actual numbers to hand, guessing 1500, 500 respectively for illustration.). A club might be refused entry with say, 1600 seats (4x400) because not one of those banks of seating has 500 contiguous seats! As I see it, the Seniors have grasped the nettle, realising that their facilities; no matter how good they are in other ways; simply have to pass muster vis-a-vis the SFA licencing... which I suspect they've been expecting for several years, simply via their SFA connection with SPL/SFL/SPFL. Meanwhile, the vast majority of SJFA clubs, without that connection, have experienced the SFA licence introduction all-in-one-go, as it were, and have understandably entered into a state of mild shock, not having seen the writing on the wall. I imagine that the generous handful of Juniors who have made it into the SFA Cup will have picked up more of an inkling about the licencing via discussion with Senior opponents in the boardrooms, but doubt whether they'd have semaphored that information about much further. So, there, you can immediately see the beginnings of a difference in opinions, although given four or five years they'll become indistinguishable. Allied, of course, is the regulation that entry to the SFA Cup will eventually become licence restricted, which is by and large interpreted as being a whip with which to cajole Juniors into the LL ~ which it's absolutely not. It's just a coincident fact which applies across the boards (ask Strathspey Thistle!). Yes, no longer would four championship-winning Junior clubs get a place in the SFA Cup if they're unlicenced... however Cup entry will be accorded to any club which is SFA licenced, so this ruling is actually very, very inclusive. Not exclusive as the doom-mongers portray it. The matter about where an ex-Junior League club should return to upon its possible relegation from the LL should simply be answered by asking where it originated to join the LL.This is a purely in-house problem for the SJFA to decide upon. I can see their fear of lower-divisional clubs perhaps 'using' LL election in order to 'jump divisions' in the SJFA system if/when relegated back from the LL ~ but how practical could/would that actually be for such a club? It could only possibly benefit a team needing more than two successive promotions within the SJFA system over the same time period, so I cannot see this 'tactic' becoming in any way pervasive as a way to undermine normal promotion pathways. Besides, should the SJFA in its wisdom decline a SL placement to an LL relegatee, I suspect the lawyers might get a run-out! Thus, this problem, really is no problem at all. Addressing the fact that as it stands, the LL doesn't represent 'the greatest & best' of teams South of the Tay... Well, that's indubitably correct! Personally, I think it has maybe five or six teams presently in it who could be classed amongst the top-16-teams South of the Tay, but currently it only contains the top-12-teams who applied for entry to it from clubs South of the Tay! It will become the league containing the best teams from South of the Tay, only when all of the best teams from South of the Tay actually obtain their SFA licence, and obviously, apply for inclusion. The argument regarding the strength of the LL compared with/to various English leagues has yet to come up with anything definitive. I think that the range of individual teams' strengths within the LL makes a generalised answer near impossible. I'd suggest that presently the LL has three teams capable of existing at the English Step 3 level ~ i.e. NP/Southern/Isthmian Premier level ~ think AFC Fylde, FC Utd. of Manchester or King's Lynn Town, etc. Whether that'd be top/mid/bottom of the table is arguable, I'd suggest upper-mid myself. The LL also contains two teams who'd most certainly only be capable and maybe maintaining Step 5 football as it is in England. Now, there's a little difficulty in using the NL as a Step 5 comparison here, as its general average strength; for historic reasons I'll not entertain here and now; is much closer to the average strength of Step 4 than any other Step 5 league. Think Step4½ perhaps? Both of these less strong teams might compete ok in a 'normal' Step 5 league, if mid to lower table the one, I think the other likely to struggle even at this lowly level. For the other seven LL teams, mid-lower Step 4 or mid-higher step 5 would, I think be appropriate levels. (Remembering that there can be considerable overlap in individual team strengths from a division at one level to a division at the next level ~ if I need a quick 'reckoner' to compare two teams from different levels, I use the reasonably reliable '70% on average rule', which states that when compared on a 2-points per win basis, any team from one level beneath another would on average be 70% the strength of a team equal on points with it, but that single level higher. Useful for FA Cup betting (but English Premier League to Championship is different ~ 60% being closer there!), etc. If theres a two-division gap, you multiply, so 70% x 70% = 49%, etc. That's my considered thoughts about various sub-topics in this thread. Please feel free to comment, commend &/or condemn!
  24. Lowland League comparison

    Oooo! Sorry, but this ended up a wee bit long! Individual games can be anything from brilliant to atrocious. The 'watchability' depends on more combining factors than you'd want to shake a stick at. It's possible; and indeed has happened; that two teams can play a specific fixture twice in a matter of days (e.g. when two teams from the same division are also drawn together in a cup fixture), and the one match is superb, the other, dire. In other words, it's impossible to accurately predict watchability even between just two specific teams before the game is played, on evidence only from one previous match. The attempt to do just that is not empirical and frankly, is laugh-out-aloud funny. Of course, with more data-points recorded; watching a goodly number of near-previous matches involving the two teams seperately; there is more empirical evidence to qualify an informed opinion... but that's not been presented in this thread, so far. Yet, still beware: For no matter how much of this empirical evidence you do gather, football being what it is and all - you could find that some single factor, say 'style of play' favoured by the two teams ~ something that maybe causes disruption to play versus all other teams, might just be complementary when those specific two play each other! Against all odds, the game's a cracker when anticipated it'd be dismal. So, let's just chuck that now ~ proven to not be a salient point. Now, to the chase: The LL is the pinnacle for both the Senior and the Junior non-leagues... it is so because the SFA as ultimate arbiter of these decisions say so. Full stop. Nowhere (I've seen) says that the strongest playing-strength non-league teams (South of the Tay) have to be compelled into the LL. Indeed, that principle is positively antediluvian in this day and age of vouchsafing responsibility, health & safety and financial probity. Rather now are chosen the clubs/teams who best toe-the-line as regards these more modern sensibilities. Of course, it's understandable that the SJFA board and clubs are suspicious, and even dismissive of the LL. After all, it's a 'Johnny-come-lately' competition that has seemingly been rushed into existence, and has been plonked above them in the football hierarchy, without necessarily being composed of teams that are better on the field of play than they are. However, really, it's not been that rushed ~ had the SPL & SFL quickly and efficiently come together to form the new SPFL, then there would have been many more weeks of grace available for all parties; interested or otherwise; to peruse the idea, canvas their support, look into logistics, etc., and maybe progress a bid to join. Of course, this process would have been far easier for the NL Seniors, compared to the Juniors, as whether or not the LL did come to be formed for the 2013-14 season or not, it wouldn't represent to them the 'mighty leap into unknown territories' that it would to any Junior clubs. Frankly, this perceived rush wasn't really applicable to the EoS/SoS contingents as they were already well prepared for the event, but was certainly an important factor for the Juniors, who to my mind justifiably do need a much longer consideration period than that given them, and by that I mean more time than there was between when the idea was first seriously mooted and officially put to them, and when the final decision to set it up was made. To myself there's no surprise whatsoever that no Juniors progresed bids further than simply indicating an 'interest to join'. What did surprise me was the number of these 'interested parties'; taking out the obvious Seniors' showings of interest; indicating that more than a handfull of Juniors got that far down the road with it. I'd expected maybe two or three at a stretch, but certainly not that many! So, to my mind at least, the whole LL shebang has progressed as I think it should ~ i.e. sans initial Junior involvement. There's even an example of a non-EoS/SoS club being involved in the presence of EK, who I think will be avidly studied by those Juniors interested in perhaps throwing their hats into the LL ring for next season. I suspect that the most interest given and preparation made from Junior ranks will be from those Junior clubs less likely to be leading-lights in their respective leagues - East/West Superleague middlers, down perhaps to East Premier & West Division 1 middlers. - as LL openings post 2014-15 are likely then going to be open to East/West Superleague champions and maybe runners-up if champions cannot for some reason be promoted. Otherwise, yes, I do expect some leading-lights in the mix, naming no names, but watch for teams developing stadia, nudge, nudge! I'd be surprised if there were fewer than a good dozen Junior interests shown in joining for 2014-15, with at least four-six progressing to actual applications. Of course, there were several Seniors that failed application for the current season, so I expect them back for 2014-15, and no doubt they'll all have been squirrelling-away on thir stadium improvements too. Again, a good indicator of clubs' interests for those with an eyefor detail. I imagine there could be up to ten expressions of interest from current Seniors ranks,with maybe a half-dozen progressing to application again. I fear that maybe now the remaining Seniors will for a few seasons be at a slight like-for-like disadvantage compared with Junior applicants. Reason? Well, the obvious one is that the more successful Juniors that there are taken into the LL, the more tempting it will be for others to follow. Secondarily, the first intake has solely been of Seniors (EK having become Senior upon election to the SoSL) and if four Juniors are elected for 2014-15, probability then dictates that three from every four subsequent relegation candidates will be Seniors. However, the real odds on that could be much worse ~ depending upon the comparative success in stadia developments between Junior leading-light & also-ran applicants for next season in particular. Should two Junior clubs be ranked equal in their applications in all but on the field, it'll be league-standing that'll favour the stronger clubs coming in at the expense of weaker ones - stands to reason, no complaints there. But. There'll be a lot of differing items on the application check-list and applicants won't all have progressed infrastructure improvements in exactly the same order. That necessitates there being a deal of 'horse trading' happening vis-a-vis the comparison of differing facilities and determination of how close to or past entry-level certification a particular club might be... and like it, or lump it, on-field success, being a criterion, will favour the higher-placed teams, over and beyond simple comparison of facilities. There will be cases where 'bigger' teams get the nod over smaller ones, despite maybe not being quite so far advanced off the field! Ergo, there'll be a definite early trend for the LL to be strengthened on average in the first few seasons, with stronger than average Juniors likely succeeding gaining entry (particularly once a 'proper' promotion/relegation system has been instituted at its base) and that will likely pressurise the Seniors in it that are not as strong as the general Junior incomers. I'm guessing 4 from 5 or even 5 from 6 of the first batches of genuine relegatees will be Seniors. So - they know who they are and they really need to be concentrating on all-round improvement in order to stave-off this looming problem. There may well be enforced demotions too. These will seldom occur, although there'll most certainly be squaky-bum room once the all-entry-level membership criterion becomes enforced (is that at end of 2015-16? I'm unsure). Thereafter, clubs failing entry-level requirements may be kicked-out, if there's another suitable replacement club available to be promoted to take its place. That won't result in an extra promotion though... there'd be reprieves instead for team(s) who'd otherwise be relegated. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, the 'proper' system of feeders to HL & LL will be agreed upon and ensonced. I'm hoping that Tayside teams (North of the Tay, at least) will be drawn into the North Juniors system under the HL itself. For two reasons - because (i) the SFA has designated the Tay as being the common border between Lowland & Highland regions -&- (ii) because there's a helluva lot more lowland teams than highland teams with the present split. To me that just makes sense - if there are to be just two feeder 'Superleagues'' However, it might pay to retain the three Junior Districts as is, just absorb the SoS into the Wests, the EoS into the Easts, and horse-trade a little at their common boundary. It wouldn't alter my notion of sending North-bank Taysiders to the North District though, I do feel team numbers should be split more equitably between districts. That way any ambitious amateurs entering the system can be assured that their entry-level is standard in all three districts - something which I consider quite important.