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Radical restructure of Scottish football looms

Both Old Firm clubs, along with Hearts and Hibernian, are planning to field reserve teams in the third tier of Scottish football as part of a blueprint to restructure the game in Scotland, reports The Guardian. The Scottish Premier League is working on a proposal, which could have wide-ranging ramifications, to put before clubs to vote on next year. There is now universal acceptance within the SPL that its structure, with 12 teams and a late-season split, must be altered following an alarming drop in standards and interest.

The mooted alternative would see two divisions of 14 form an upper tier of football. Although the controversial split would remain in some capacity, broadcasters would be satisfied by the continued existence of four Old Firm fixtures.

A newly formed third division would be supplemented by reserve or "B" teams from Scotland's largest clubs, although other teams such as Aberdeen could seek involvement. The recent abolition of the SPL's reserve league has left a huge batch of players without competitive football.

The Old Firm play regular friendlies against the reserve teams of English Premier League clubs. They are thought to be happy, in principle, to field teams in a lower league - a system already in place in many Continental countries.

A senior SPL figure confirmed that next season would offer "the perfect opportunity" to implement change, but there are obstacles to the proposal: the three leagues outside the top flight are controlled by the Scottish Football League, over which the SPL would need to have control for the plans to succeed. It has long been recommended, though, that a single entity takes over governance of Scotland's league structure.

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