It came as no surprise (to me) that the potential reconstruction of Scottish Football, has been blown out of the water by the top flight SPFL clubs. After the shambles that was the vote on whether the Scottish Football season (in the lower leagues) should be finished, the focus had moved towards league reconstruction.
I still believe that the way forward in Scotland is Summer football (and this is an ideal opportunity), starting in March next year, giving the time to finish this season and not compromise next season and subsequent seasons (see blog: March 30th 2020, https://mdwatsonsport.com/2020/03/a-golden-opportunity/). This would give complete sporting integrity, to all clubs across the Scottish Football pyramid.
If the reconstruction had gone ahead at least some sporting integrity would have been upheld. This would primarily allow the teams in the relegation places and most play-off positions not to be punished for an incomplete season. The teams that were most effected would have been Heart of Midlothian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Falkirk and Stranraer.
Now that reconstruction appears to be off the table, there are reasons I feel that the way the SPFL are going to end the season is unjust.
The two main concerns I have is that there is still almost a quarter of the season still to go, and no matter how poorly or well a team has been playing, with so many points to be played for and teams having to play each other, it is by no means certain who is going gain the greatest number of points. Also, especially in the Premiership, using an Americanism, the strength of the schedule that each team has played is different, so the suggested points per game (PPG) methodology would be skewed. Also, and this is a main gripe, I do not understand why the teams that are in the play-off position at the bottom of the leagues would not be affected. This is the major flaw. If the teams that are in the automatic relegation position are demoted, why are the teams in the play-offs not involved in some sort of play-off. It may be difficult to arrange, but I feel that they shouldn’t be able to make a call on some parts of the league (Champions, automatic relegation as well as European qualification positions), but not the others (play-off), as has been set at the start of the season.
As for the reconstruction conundrum, the lower leagues were behind a 14-14-14 set up, but as a permanent change rather than temporary solution. The way it has been reported it would include a split after each team had played each other twice. It is then that the leagues would be split into top 7 and bottom 7, in the top league, and then the other leagues, play another round of fixtures. In the lower divisions, this would give an unbalanced schedule, with some teams playing 15 home and 14 away, rather than 14 home and 15 away. While the imbalance can be reduced with analysis of schedules, it still is a concern, come the end of the season, if the top prize is separated by less than 3 points.
As for the top league, I don’t agree with the split going to two sevens, and I think this may be the reason that the top-flight clubs did not vote for it. I think that they should follow a similar format to the top league in Denmark. The Danish model, which is quite complicated, which is also a 14 team league splits after two rounds of fixtures (26 matches) and then split into a Top 6 and Bottom 8. While the Danish model splits the bottom half into two leagues, I would suggest that after the split in Scotland, the teams in each split should play each other twice more giving a further 10 (top half) or 14 (bottom half) games.
My reasoning for the change from the suggested 7 : 7 split to the 6 : 8, is that some teams covet the guarantee of three home matches against Rangers / Celtic, and they would miss out on the third match if the split came after two rounds. If they missed out on this, the clubs would then have an extra home match, which would reduce their financial loss. The need for an additional four games (after the break) could be accommodated as they could be played in midweek, alongside the UEFA matches as it is unlikely that these matches would be the pick for Sky Sports. The one issue about a split (6/8) after the second round of fixtures, is that if there is a logjam between 4th to 10th, is it fair that the teams that are put in the lower split, miss out on the opportunity to fight their way into UEFA competition contention. This is where I the Danish model, comes into its own! The team that finishes at the top of the lower half, then go into a play-off with the team that qualifies for the last UEFA qualification position (currently the Scottish Cup Winner or 4th in League). This would then give all teams in the lower half something to play for, as being best of the rest potentially has a tangible reward at the end of the season.
While reconstruction appears dead, if it was to be reconsidered, this is the way I feel the Scottish game should proceed.