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Smith Backs 18-Team League


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by Lindsay Herron

WALTER SMTH believes Scottish football would be better served if the top division reverted back to an 18-team league.

Once again the dreaded split has caused consternation for many clubs, including Rangers who are unhappy and surprised that they face three consecutive away matches in 10 days either side of two home matches.

The current 12-team set-up with three rounds of fixtures and then a top six and bottom six split has been filled with problems since it was introduced.

And Smith, who was a player with Dundee United in 1975 the last time Scottish football had an 18-team top league, believes the time is right to change back.

A division of this size would mean 34 fixtures - 17 at home and 17 away - and everything would be mapped out before a ball was kicked.

There are those who say that there are not 18 teams of the sufficient standard or infrastructure but Smith disagrees and believes the time is right to work towards this goal.

He said: "If it was up to me we would have an 18-club league. If it was up to anybody we would have an 18-club league but we seem to have difficulties in getting there.

"I think the perfect situation for Scotland would be 18 teams if we could just get enough teams to get their facilities up to scratch.

"I think it would take a complete revamp of Scottish football to get it but I think there are enough teams out there to make it work.

"That's what we should be putting our concentration into."

As we exclusively reported yesterday, Rangers are disappointed that they have been handed a trio of away matches at Easter Road, Tannadice and Celtic Park when it was previously agreed that this scenario would never unfold.

Smith added: "We've been given three away games in a row and I find that a strange circumstance.

"We were told a couple of seasons ago, when we were in the midst of fixtures chaos, that this would never happen but it's happened so I find it very strange.

"I think there will always be problems with the split. Everyone has a complaint and it's just the way the league is set up.

"It's certainly not perfect that a team that finishes seventh can have more points than the team that finishes sixth.

"I know it's an impossible circumstance that the league is in but it was strange that we have been given three consecutive away games when it was stated that this would never happen to any club."

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I agree with the whole 18 team set up and believe our game would benefit as a result, however the so called smaller teams will not have the same attitudes as they'd be thinking play the OF twice each season at home would not benefit them financially, so it aint gonna happen.

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I think an 18 team league would be a great idea. Teams like ICT, Ross, Queens etc can bring alot to the league.

Obviously its easy for a lower league team to raise they're game against a premier league team in the cup, but lets face it, they have a good record of cupsets. Look at the games we've had against them in recent years, Queens x2, Partick... The Splits Nonsense, Only down side - 2 old firms :(

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it needs to change and this is a good idea if you ask me.

But what the real problem is are the teams we will add to the league with shit stadiums and shit supports.

Although the likes of Dundee, ICT, Ross County etc are probably good enough to play in the SPL as it is.

Livingston have a good stadium also but they are in the shit

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18 club league is not going to happen. Basically, an 18 club league means we get 34 instead of 38 league fixtures, meaning 2 less home games. How many clubs could/would be prepared to drop the price of season tickets?

effectively we would lose one OF game, and relatively big games like utd, sheep, hearts hibs etc, and instead get the likes of dundee, inverness, ross county and thistle. Us and the beggars account for at least half the paying customers in the league and what this would mean would be a drop in the standard of the product we get for our money. also, TV deals are going to be affected, the OF games are the big draws, the ones that attract the biggest audiences. If the league is expanded in this way, it would surely have to be to 20?

Scotland's 12 club league is comparable with other european countrys of a roughly similar population, like norway, denmark, austria, switzerland etc.

I'd go for something different- 14 club league, play each other twice for 26 games, then split into two groups of 7- another 12 fixtures adding up to the current 38. the big disadvantage is after the split each club would have 2 matchdays where they had no fixtures- but given the fixture pile ups of the past i dont think its that big a deal. This set up gives us 2 more clubs in the spl, and it means everyone gets a fair fixture list before the split. After the split, we'd be looking at playing celtic, hibs, hearts, utd, motherwell and lets be generous and say aberdeen home and away for the run in- and thats as attractive a set of fixtures as your going to get in scotland. You could ensure that the team who is in 7th spot as the league splits is the team who doesnt play on the last day. you could also introduce play-offs in the bottom half - ie one club goes straight down, the next two go into play offs with 2nd and 3rd in the first division, with a play off final.

While im on a rant id also play thru the summer- i know scottish weather can never be garaunteed but june and july are generally a bit more pleasant than jan and feb, and id introduce a bonus point for teams who score 4 or more goals in a game. Something similar has worked in rugby. Think about it- we'd have to set ourselves up to have a go at teams home and away, leading to more attractive football, and to be honest we'd probably see the old firm getting caught out by teams more often.

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Splits been nothing but a piss-take. Should definitely go back to 18-club league. And there's plenty of half-decent clubs that would make it an interesting league. Wouldn't mind something like this:

The Champions

Mhanks

Sheep

Dundee United

Hearts

Hibs

Motherwell

Hamilton

Falkirk

St Mirren

Kilmarnock

St Johnstone

Dunfermline

Dundee

Inverness

Ross County

Raith Rovers

Clyde

Most of whom have been in the top league before so there would only need to be a few renovations to stadiums etc. As said before, the only downside to this would be that there's only 2 Old Firm games.

Still, this would make the league much more balanced and easily set-out :beer1:

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18 club league is not going to happen. Basically, an 18 club league means we get 34 instead of 38 league fixtures, meaning 2 less home games. How many clubs could/would be prepared to drop the price of season tickets?

effectively we would lose one OF game, and relatively big games like utd, sheep, hearts hibs etc, and instead get the likes of dundee, inverness, ross county and thistle. Us and the beggars account for at least half the paying customers in the league and what this would mean would be a drop in the standard of the product we get for our money. also, TV deals are going to be affected, the OF games are the big draws, the ones that attract the biggest audiences. If the league is expanded in this way, it would surely have to be to 20?

Scotland's 12 club league is comparable with other european countrys of a roughly similar population, like norway, denmark, austria, switzerland etc.

I'd go for something different- 14 club league, play each other twice for 26 games, then split into two groups of 7- another 12 fixtures adding up to the current 38. the big disadvantage is after the split each club would have 2 matchdays where they had no fixtures- but given the fixture pile ups of the past i dont think its that big a deal. This set up gives us 2 more clubs in the spl, and it means everyone gets a fair fixture list before the split. After the split, we'd be looking at playing celtic, hibs, hearts, utd, motherwell and lets be generous and say aberdeen home and away for the run in- and thats as attractive a set of fixtures as your going to get in scotland. You could ensure that the team who is in 7th spot as the league splits is the team who doesnt play on the last day. you could also introduce play-offs in the bottom half - ie one club goes straight down, the next two go into play offs with 2nd and 3rd in the first division, with a play off final.

While im on a rant id also play thru the summer- i know scottish weather can never be garaunteed but june and july are generally a bit more pleasant than jan and feb, and id introduce a bonus point for teams who score 4 or more goals in a game. Something similar has worked in rugby. Think about it- we'd have to set ourselves up to have a go at teams home and away, leading to more attractive football, and to be honest we'd probably see the old firm getting caught out by teams more often.

this sounds better than 18 team league!

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There will not be only 2 Old Firm games a season, no one is voting for that, least of all us and them. TV money is dependent on 4 OF games and that isn't going to change anytime soon. I'm all for an expanded league and as has been shown by St Johnstone and Hamilton in the last two seasons there is no gulf in standard between the top of the 1st division and most of the SPL. Unfortunately I can't see an 18 team league happening either.

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Genuine question, what was wrong with the 10 team league, 36 games a season?

Was it just a case of being boring playing the same team 9 teams, 4 times a season?

Or was it we simply had no choice due to the UEFA minimum of 38 games that Muff mentioned.

I think the 4 OF games a season is a must.

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For crying out loud.How many times do we have to go through this shit and re-hash it over and over ad nauseam?

Since I've been involved in Football since the early 1950's, we have had

the following set-ups and always somebody is complaining about it being fucking hopeless,Too stale....Too many games....Too few games...Too much travelling...Too many games against the OF.....Not enough games against the OF...Too many teams in the League....Not enough teams in the League....Too many meaningless games... little clubs can't surve.....Etc! etc!. Honestly, it's nipping my fucking head.

In the past 60 Seasons from 1950 until 2010 we have tried all these:

Scottish League Division "A", "B". Both 16 Team League=30 games.

Scottish League Division 1; 18 teams=34 games.

Scottish League Division 2; 19 teams=36 games.

Season 1966-67 Div. 2 was expanded to 20 teams=38 games

Season 1967-68 Div2 went back to 19 teams=36 games due to Third Lanark becoming extinct.

1974-75; was the last season of the 2 league set-up...The top 10 clubs set up the SPL. The remaining 8 from the 1st Div joined with the top 6 clubs from Div.2 and made up the new Division 1.

The remaining 14 clubs made up the new Division 2.

1975-76.SPL@ 10clubs=36 games

Div.1.@14 clubs=26 games.

Div.2.@14clubs=26 games.

Since then up to the present, we have had 2 up,2down. promotion

Playoffs, splits.....you name it we have tried the lot.

We have seen divisions of 10,12,14,16,17,18,19,20.

North, South, A,B,C,....

This split is not equitable to a fair League that has as its base an even Home-Away distribution of games and should be scrapped, but I don't have the answer to the problems that faces Scottish Football in this day and age.Apart from the OF, nobody goes to watch games any more.

Every club outwith the OF has no fan base to enable them to get money to improve to a consistent level in Scotland never mind set their sights on Europe.

I just hope the next plan the powers that be come up with is a better one than is currently in place.

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