Scottish Premier League

Clubs make proposal to join SPL

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Fri, 03 May 2013 21:03:00

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are ready to seal their place in next season's Champions League against Deportivo.

The 2-1 loss to Real was particularly demoralising for Atletico because they took an early lead against Jose Mourinho's side, which consisted of many fringe players, and still lost, all but ending their hopes of finishing above Los Blancos in the Primera Division table.

Simeone's squad travelled to Azerbaijan during the week to play a friendly against a local all-star team (Atletico won 3-0), which the Argentinian coach said helped them get over the disappointment of the derby defeat.

He also emphasised that they are now focusing on wrapping up qualification for the Champions League, which they will achieve if they get a point against relegation-battling Depor at the Riazor.

He told a press conference: "We were all together in Azerbaijan and that was good for us after a tough defeat like the one we suffered the other day.

"We haven't spoken much in relation to the game (against Real), we have focused on thinking about the next game, one that is important to us and could take us closer to an important objective: seeing Atletico in the Champions League again."

Deportivo's preparation for the game has been blighted by reports that their 4-0 win at Levante on April 13 is being investigated by the Spanish Football League and the Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor for possible match-fixing.

Depor coach Fernando Vazquez told reporters of his dismay at the allegations.

"Depor are offended, but relaxed; we did nothing strange," he said.

He added that the allegations are implausible given the club's dire financial situation.

"Matches can be explained in a thousand ways but it seems incredible that a club in our situation, that can barely pay our players, could be believed to have the resources to do something like that."

Vazquez will be without left winger Diogo Salomao, who has failed to recover in time from a calf injury, plus defender Abel Aguilar, who is suspended.

Forward Pizzi and left-back Silvio Azevedo, both on-loan at the club from Atletico, are unable to play due to the terms of their contract. However, Vazquez was confident that centre-back Aythami Artiles would be fit to play.

For Atletico, Arda Turan is available after recovering from injury but Diego Costa, though fit again, is suspended along with Koke.

Ten clubs sent their proposal to the Scottish Premier League following a meeting at Hamilton's New Douglas Park on Thursday night.

Second-tier clubs fear for their ability to sustain full-time football after the collapse of a plan for a new merged body, which was vetoed by Ross County and St Mirren at an SPL meeting last month.

Hamilton chairman Les Gray tonight confirmed they had grown frustrated with the Scottish Football League board and the rebel group hope the SPL will meet them to discuss a two-tier structure.

Gray would not go into details of their proposal to the SPL, whose clubs are due to meet on Tuesday at a second meeting to discuss introducing play-offs as an alternative to the failed plan to split the top two tiers into three divisions after 22 games.

But he told BBC Radio Scotland: "We have always said we would prefer a 42-club solution. If they are unable to do that, we can't sit on our hands and see what happens.

"We have given them (SPL) an alternative and that option includes a second tier, a Championship. That's all there is to it, there is nothing sinister behind this.

"There were 10 clubs at the meeting who were all in agreement to put this proposal. I'm not going to name them."

First Division clubs were the biggest losers when the SPL rejected the proposals, which were designed to create extra revenue to spread among their ranks.

Gray added: "I have spoken to the SPL chairman over this and I have always felt there was some warmth towards the idea of a second tier, but it has never got over the line.

"We are going at it from the angle that this is the last chance to do something for next season and there is a will to do it.

"There are clubs in danger, there are clubs having to consider part-time, and there are jobs in danger. We need to try to get this through so that we can create extra wealth for that second tier."

The SPL confirmed they would discuss the proposal.

A statement read: "We can confirm that we have received a letter from the overwhelming majority of those clubs which would be in the SFL Division 1 next season expressing a desire to be admitted to the Scottish Premier League for season 2013/14.

"This letter will be put in front of all SPL clubs at their all club meeting this Tuesday when we look forward to discussing how best to take forward the game in this country."

The SFL, which has received about ?1million each season from the SPL as stipulated in the top club's 1998 breakaway, has a rule stating that clubs need to provide two years' notice to resign.

But Gray said: "Having taken legal advice on this and bringing a lawyer to the meeting regarding the implications of the settlement agreement etc and the rules of the game, we know it can be delivered for next season.

"I'm not a lawyer but it's quite clear from the facts that we have that in hand and are not concerned about that."

The Hamilton chairman revealed he had not spoken about the plans with SFL chief executive David Longmuir, who angered some First Division clubs during the reconstruction talks, for example by declining an offer of mediation by the Scottish Football Association.

Gray said: "David was copied in on all of our communications about our meetings and wouldn't agree with some of the things we were doing and saying, I'm sure, because we were undermining the board in his eyes.

"And I would totally respect that position but we had to do something that we felt would help make this change if it's at all possible, and we feel the First Division have not been adequately represented by our board. I'm disappointed with our board.

"I'm not trying to be personal, this is purely clubs trying to survive and it seems to me there has been a general malaise between the SPL board and the SFL board during this process.

"And I'm worried if we didn't do something ourselves then it couldn't be fixed."

Longmuir today insisted his focus was on securing play-offs between the top two tiers.

He told STV: "We met with the professional game board and SPL and SFA chief executives were in attendance. We discussed one issue and that was play-offs.

"That is the action the bodies want to pursue, the position of the SFL is to continue to work towards meaningful change, by that we're involved in discussions with both parties and we are firmly focused on delivering change.

"We want to move it forward through play-offs with the pyramid structure to come later in time."

Meanwhile, Gray insisted the future of Third Division champions Rangers was not discussed by the group.

"That's not what this is about, it's not about the acceleration of Rangers through the divisions," he said.

The Ibrox club issued a statement, which read: "Rangers remain profoundly interested in all talks and developments on league reconstruction and has always been willing to play a full part in improving the game in Scotland. However, beyond that we cannot comment."

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