Scottish Premier League news

Lawwell critical of 'divisive' talks

March 22, 2012

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has described the actions of the ten non-Old Firm clubs who met to discuss possible changes to the Scottish Premier League as "divisive".

Peter Lawwell
GettyImagesPeter Lawwell (L) is unhappy about the talks

The ten clubs are looking to change the 11-1 voting structure for structural changes, which favours Celtic and Rangers, to a 9-3 format that could facilitate potentially wide-reaching reforms.

The next general meeting of the SPL is on April 12, where any issues surrounding change could be discussed, but Lawwell has now moved to voice his concerns while denying that his club was only acting in its own interests.

"We see it as potentially divisive and concerning for every Scottish football supporter at this very difficult time for the game in Scotland," Lawwell told STV. "We could all do without it.

"We are not against protecting the lower clubs. We were part of the strategic group that committed to transforming the funding of the First Division, but we were disappointed and we feel it disrespectful that, (with) what Celtic and Rangers bring to the game, and having spent nearly two years and a lot of time helping to develop a strategy, that we were excluded."

The SPL clubs failed to reach agreement on league restructure last year after a series of meetings saw a proposal for a ten-team top flight and 12-team SPL 2 rejected, and indeed, it appeared an impasse had been reached.

Lawwell revealed that Celtic now favour an increase in the SPL to 14 teams, with a split, which would see the top clubs play two fewer games per season.

He said: "If we were asked our opinion on whether we want a ten, 12 or 14 (team league), we could see ourselves voting for a 14 as long as it's a six and an eight and if that helps the clubs that have great concerns about relegation.

"We actually started at the strategic group with a ten (club plan). We felt it was right. It was 36 games and that gave us the appropriate time for Europe and possibly a winter break.

"Martin (Bain, former Rangers chief executive) and I were then convinced for a 14 because the top six would play 36 games. We were persuaded to go back to the ten for the greater good because the majority around the table wanted the ten, but ten, 12 or 14, it doesn't really matter, other than the number of games you play."

In a 14-club league, each team would play the others twice in the first half before the top six and bottom eight split. Having already played 26 games in the first half of the season, the top six would play each other twice in the second half, making 36 games in total. The bottom eight would do the same, giving them a total of 40 games.

Lawwell believes the plan would serve the interests of all clubs with more scope for rest at the top balanced with extra matches for the clubs at the lower end.

He said: "That gives you preparation time, it gives you winter break time and then in the bottom, teams would have 40 games - and more money."