Ex-Hearts chief: Expanding league ‘reasonable and correct’

Expanding the Scottish Premiership to 14 teams would be the 'correct decision' according to former Hearts CEO David Southern.

Former Hearts chief executive David Southern says expanding the Scottish Premiership to 14 teams would not only “be reasonable” but also the “correct decision”.

Top-flight clubs are being asked for their views by the SPFL on a 14-team Premiership and three divisions of ten.

Southern was part of a discussion on league reconstruction seven years ago when a 12-12-18 structure was on the table at a time when Rangers were in the lower leagues.

While that layout wasn’t adopted, the talks led to promotion and relegation play-offs being introduced throughout the divisions.

Now, with Hearts set to be replaced by Championship winners Dundee United after the SPFL was finished early due to the coronavirus pandemic, Southern believes that an expansion of the top-flight would be the fairest option.

He said: “Going back to 2013 and the debate surrounding the major reconstruction back then, so much of it was external as well internal around the boardroom table on the sixth floor at Hampden, but ultimately we managed to change the game in Scotland.

“It wasn’t the original proposal that was put forward of the 12-12-18 with the top two divisions splitting to three eights, but it was a freshening of the league set-up, bringing in play-offs for relegation and promotion places.

“Change was needed and we were responsible for implementing that change. It took some time, took some debate, but we were able to shake out what was a genuine change to the game and to the league set-up.”

Now a football industry adviser, Southern, who also had a spell as Dundee United general manager, urged clubs to put their differences to one side for the good of the game overall.

He said: “The most important part of the process is communication, this has to be maintained and prioritised at all times.

“There is a lot of bad blood that seems to have been spilled over the last six to eight weeks and I really feel people need to come with as fresh a head as possible to the negotiating table and 14-10-10-10 is not only reasonable, it is actually the correct decision.”

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