| 7.4°C Dublin

Opposition mounting to 10-team SPL

Inverness have joined Dundee United in meeting the Scottish Premier League's restructuring proposals with scepticism.

All 12 top-flight SPL clubs met at Hampden on Tuesday to discuss plans for league reconstruction and other radical reforms -- including an earlier start to the season, a winter break and the reintroduction of play-offs.

Afterwards, SPL chairman Ralph Topping and chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed to be optimistic that the plan to have an SPL 1 and 2 with 10 teams in each division would be ratified at the next meeting on January 17. An 11-1 vote is required to push the proposal through.

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson was absent from the discussions but has spoken with representatives from three separate clubs who were present and said they may opt to abstain from the vote.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who were last summer promoted to the top flight, yesterday expressed surprise at the proposals and will consider them carefully.

Caley chairman George Fraser said in a statement: "We'll be holding a board meeting by the weekend to consider the additional information put forward at Tuesday's SPL meeting.

"Our initial impression was that the SPL Strategy Group was looking to choose between 12 and 14 clubs and it was a big surprise to us and others that they have come forward with a proposal to actually reduce the SPL to 10 clubs.

"That is much less attractive to a club like ours and we need to carefully consider the financial implications and what has now been placed on the table in that regard following this week's SPL meeting.

"Caley Thistle are first and foremost a community club. Our fans are our lifeblood and it is clear that all surveys of supporters show that a 10-team SPL is the least popular option. It does not appear that their views have gained precedence."

Thompson, too, said the supporters' wishes have not been considered, with a recent survey showing the vast majority of fans were against the reduced league size.

While the Dundee United chairman admits that change is necessary, he is not in favour of all of the reforms proposed by the strategic review group featuring Topping, Doncaster and representatives from six clubs -- Hibernian, St Mirren, Motherwell, Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen -- following research by Doncaster.

The SPL chief executive believes that a 10-team top flight is the only proposal that can deliver on a financial basis. Like Dundee United and Inverness, Hearts and Kilmarnock are also believed to be uncertain about the plans.

Irish Independent