Rangers & Celtic B teams in Ibrox club’s 14-14-18 SPFL plan

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June 6, 2020
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    Rangers v Celtic

    Rangers and Celtic’s B teams would be in the third tier as part of the proposal

    Rangers and Celtic would both have ‘B’ teams in the bottom tier of a 14-14-18 league set-up being proposed by the Ibrox club for next season.

    Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers would also be invited into the SPFL to make up an expanded League One, with the “innovation paper” also suggesting Hearts and Partick Thistle avoid their respective relegations.

    Both Old Firm B sides would immediately pay a £125,000 joining fee, with further payments to be made in each of the following three campaigns.

    That money would go to third-tier clubs and would reduce by £25,000 each term across a four-year deal, with the entire plan worth a total of £1.2m of “new finance”.

    What else is in the ‘innovation paper’?

    • Rangers and Celtic B teams can only get promoted as high as the Championship;
    • Their players will have an age limit of 21;
    • The Old Firm will purchase at least 200 tickets at a cost of £15 for each away game, with the money paid in advance;
    • They will also pay £1000 to stream each of those matches, should facilities be in place
    • Other Premiership clubs can apply to have ‘B’ teams starting in the Highland and Lowland leagues – replacing Kelty and Brora – with a joining fee of £25,000;
    • Alternatively, they could forge strategic partnerships with lower-league outfits that would allow up to six players, plus one coach to be loaned by the Premiership club;
    • Those partnerships would have a minimum three-year commitment and would cease if the lower-league club reaches the top flight.
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    How would the divisions work?


    • Hearts and Inverness Caledonian Thistle would be added to top 12;
    • League would split into a top six and bottom eight after 26 matches;
    • Top six would play home and away (total 36 games) as would the bottom eight (total 40 games);
    • One team would be relegated, and another would face a play-off as currently.


    • Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Airdrie, Montrose, East Fife and Dumbarton would be moved up;
    • League would split into a top six and bottom eight after 26 games;
    • Top six would play home and away (total 36 games) as would the bottom eight (total 40 games);
    • One team would be promoted, plus three more would make play-offs as currently;
    • Bottom two would be relegated, with the 12th-placed team in play-off.

    League One

    • Teams would meet twice each season;
    • Top two would be guaranteed promotion, with teams in third, fourth, fifth and sixth in play-offs to decide who would face off with 12th team in Championship;
    • Bottom side will enter play-off with Highland or Lowland League play-off winner as currently;
    • There is scope for second bottom team to also become part of play-offs.

    Why are Rangers proposing it?

    The Ibrox club say their objectives are to ensure no club is worse off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and to inject “new finance” into the “vulnerable” lower leagues to improve standards.

    Furthermore, Rangers say they want to achieve the “freshness” that reconstruction would bring while making sure “the pyramid is respected” and keeping each club’s share of prize-money distribution the same.

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    Another plank is to tackle the “player transition challenge” with a “menu” of options for different-sized clubs ranging from B teams to the existing loan agreements and reserve league.

    What happens next?

    It is unclear how much support exists for the proposals, although it is understood Celtic do back them.

    All Premiership clubs are aware, and will have had the full document presented to them by Rangers by Tuesday. Furthermore, the Scottish Football Association and SPFL have both been briefed, and other lower-league outfits have been sounded out.

    There is also thought to be broad support for the strategic partnerships – an idea initially suggested by Stenhousemuir chairman Iain McMenemy.

    Were the plan to go to a vote, it would need 32 of the 42 clubs to support it. Seventeen of those would have to be in the Premiership and Championship, with 11 of them in the top flight.

    While Rangers are aiming for this to be introduced next season, they recognise that will be difficult and are prepared to adapt elements once they have consulted more widely.

    Further stumbling blocks are that, while Stranraer would technically avoid the relegation from League One meted out after the early curtailment of last season, they would still end up in the bottom tier.

    Clyde, Peterhead and Forfar Athletic would be in a similar situation, while Cove would stay in the bottom tier despite winning League Two last term.

    Earlier this week, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster wrote to clubs asking if they would back a 14-team Premiership for next season and, if not, how might their objections be overcome.

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    That followed Hearts’ owner Ann Budge’s failed attempt to gain support for a 14-14-14 structure for the next two seasons.


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    June 6, 2020
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