Mar 9 2011 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
IT wouldn’t be Scottish football if reconstruction wasn’t being banded about from time to time.
If there is one thing the governing bodies, the media and fans seem to enjoy doing it is tinkering with our league set-up.
As we enter the business end of the latest debate a solution which will keep everyone happy seems a long way off.
There is frustration and disappointment in evidence at the proposals which have been discussed so far.
SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster, in some of his quieter moments, must have wondered what he’s let himself in for.
Fans of clubs in the SPL hate the prospect of a 10-team top-flight and four games against the same opposition every season.
Further down the food chain, supporters of the often-derided lower-league clubs grow ever anxious as the plan to introduce SPL Colt sides gets an airing.
And at the centre of it all is money. Change is being driven by financial necessity with the wishes of fans and what is good for the game mere bit-part players.
As a Scottish football fan, first and foremost, I have mixed views on the proposals which have been made public thus far.
An SPL consisting of 10 clubs? I do not think it’s the best way ahead but I can live with it for now.
A 12-team SPL Championship with automatic promotion and relegation to the top-flight, with the addition of play-offs?
Well, it will be interesting to see how each side gets through 44 games if we encounter a winter like the one just experienced.
Where my concern lies, at present, is with the idea of Colt teams, which is already proving universally unpopular with fans.
I can’t think of a more regressive step than to fill one of our national leagues with reserve teams representing the likes of Celtic and Rangers, Hibernian and Hearts.
Put simply, Colt sides will devalue the competitiveness of what is currently the Third Division and reduce it to little more than a training league.
There is no clear evidence that this move will improve the prospects of SPL young players reaching the first-team.
And there is little to suggest the likes of Albion Rovers will be better off as a result.
Of course, it’s not about cash. It’s about fairness and how a particular league is perceived.
The Third Division is the most exciting in Scotland this season as half a dozen teams battle for the title.
However, what will happen if the back-ups from the big guns are parachuted in? Will they be allowed promotion to the Second Division?
If SPL clubs want their squad men to get a run-out, then they should bring back the reserve league.
Games could be played on Saturday afternoons at home stadiums with a bit of cash up for grabs for the champions.
Should they not support that idea, the status quo is not a bad option to push ahead with.
The loans system works perfectly well as young talent learn their craft in the lower leagues.
In short, the whole Colt teams plan is a joke and should be binned at once.
*NEXT WEEK: Gordon discusses Kenny Dalglish’s return to Liverpool.