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Inverness CT fans send message to SPL chiefs

By Paul Chalk

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Caley Thistle chairman George Fraser is opposed to a 10-team SPL.
Caley Thistle chairman George Fraser is opposed to a 10-team SPL.

Caley Thistle chairman George Fraser is opposed to a 10-team SPL.

CALEY Thistle supporters have joined fans from the majority of top-flight clubs who say NO to a top-10 SPL.

And this week, ICT chief George Fraser insists the debate has overshadowed the revamp’s plus points.

Inverness CT fans, along with the club’s supporters’ trust chairman Peter Murphy, sent specially-made postcards off to the SPL chiefs at Hampden to highlight their opposition to a smaller Premier League from its current number of 12.

Caley Thistle were represented at Tuesday’s SPL clubs’ meeting in Edinburgh by director Willie Finlayson to discuss a way forward.

Club chairman Fraser said: “We have been consistent in our view that a 10-team league is not sustainable. That’s been our position over the last six months of discussion and it seems clear that our view is being borne out.

“While we did not see 10 teams as viable or attractive to supporters, it is a pity that the reconstruction debate has overshadowed many positive proposals in the wider SPL strategic document which we feel are very worthy of implementation.

“We’re in favour of earlier starts to the season and midwinter breaks, and wealth distribution within the clubs should also be discussed.”

Last week, Murphy told the HN that the strong backing by the Highlanders is for a bigger rather than a smaller SPL and this was reinforced on Tuesday when Caley Jags were one of seven clubs who met at Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh to declare as “dead” any moves to introduce a 10-team division.

With Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibs opposed to a bigger league, the status quo will remain, which is what ICT boss Terry Butcher strongly called for last season when he said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The eight clubs who met unanimously agreed to reinvestigate a league of 14 and the SPL have been informed after surveys consistently showed – like these Caley Jags fans – that a bigger SPL is wanted to help reduce the fear of relegation and help the development of young players.

Murphy yesterday explained the idea behind the postcards.

He said: “Supporters Direct Scotland sent the Supporters’ Trust more than 1,000 of these postcards and Caley Thistle fans are clearly showing their position to a 10-team league.”

He added the the postcards call for a new plan where the paying fans are put first, adding that fans are “simply tired” of seeing their side play the same teams up to four times in each league season.

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster had previously claimed the majority of teams in the top-flight wanted a 10-team division, but it soon became clear that the required majority of 11-1 was never going to happen.

There is no date set yet for the crunch SPL vote and this week former First Minister Henry McLeish, who carried out an extensive study into Scottish football, urged the SPL to shelve its plans for the unpopular reconstruction.

Other proposals put forward last season to reshape the game in Scotland included a merger with the Scottish Football League which would create a pyramid structure with play-offs at the foot of the SPL and top of the First Division.

So, it seems the long wait for anything concrete to happen remains on ice and the debate throughout Scotland will continue into the new season, which kicks off next month.

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