SPL to announce 16-team top-flight league to come into play by 2015
23:49 GMT, 10 July 2012
The SPL are set to promise to set up a 16-team top flight within three years in return for newco Rangers being parachuted into next season's First Division.
The plan, which will be discussed at an SFL board meeting at Hampden on Wednesday, represents a last-gasp bid by the league to safeguard its lucrative television deals in the wake of the Ibrox club's collapse.
Winners: Celtic hold the SPL currently
Sportsmail understands the proposal would see a move from the current four divisions to three by 2015, but with no play-offs planned between the top and second tiers.
While not certain to be voted through in what promises to be a fractious meeting of all 30 SFL members on Friday, the deal is being perceived in SPL circles as a breakthrough for lower-league clubs who are seeking radical reform of the Scottish game as the price for allowing newco Rangers to drop just one league.
The proposed solution is also being seen as a bid to stave off a total implosion of the Scottish game after SFA chief executive Stewart Regan warned of 'a slow, lingering death' if the Ibrox club were banished to the Third Division – thereby threatening existing TV deals with Sky and ESPN.
Lifeline: Rangers will be parachuted into the First Division
Last night's development came as more lower-league clubs turned their fire on Regan and his SPL counterpart, Neil Doncaster.
Morton chairman Douglas Rae accused Doncaster of 'mammoth failure' in his handling of the crisis and of having 'lost his way' during the long-running saga.
He further alleged that Regan had lied over claims the SFA would have blocked newco Rangers gaining entry to the SPL, even if top-flight clubs had not voted 10-1 against admitting them on July 4.
Clyde, meanwhile, called on the SFL to clarify exactly what is being voted for on Friday — amid growing fears that newco Rangers will be 'railroaded' into the First Division regardless of how the voting goes.
Describing the overall situation as an 'unholy mess', Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton last night claimed Doncaster and Regan were now living on borrowed time.
He told Sportsmail: 'Their positions are becoming untenable. I don't know who will wield the axe or whether they will choose to fall on their swords, but the pair of them have presided over an unholy mess.
Under fire: SPL chief Neil Doncaster has been criticised for his handling of the situation
'Rangers went into administration in February — it's July and people are still asking what is going to happen. The honest answer ahead of Friday's SFL meeting is I haven't a bloody clue — and neither does anyone else.
It's an almighty shambles.' Morton counterpart Rae had earlier accused the SPL and SFA of 'bullying' and 'deceiving' SFL clubs during a meeting last week, warning of dire consequences if they did not vote Rangers into the First Division.
'Doncaster was totally unable to get his (SPL) clubs to accept the decision going forward that he wanted,' said Rae.
'Following that mammoth failure, he now expects the SFL clubs to bail him out, which would mean ignoring the views of our supporters.
'Quite frankly, Neil Doncaster seemed to many to be a man who had lost his way and is unable to get back on the right road.
'The most concerning point about Regan's presentation was he departed from truth as he became increasingly desperate to get his viewpoints accepted.
Red card: Rangers will have to play their football in the First Division
'When asked what would have happened if SPL clubs had voted newco Rangers entry to the Premier League, he stated that the SFA would block it.
'The following day, Stewart countermanded in the press what he had told the SFL meeting the previous day.
'It is extremely disappointing the chief executive of the SFA was unable to give a truthful response to SFL chairmen.'
Now Clyde are seeking changes to Friday's resolutions after claiming the clubs no longer seem to have a clear choice between sending the newco to the First or Third divisions.
The club said in a statement: 'We are being asked to make one of the most important decisions for Scottish football in a vacuum devoid of factual information, that vacuum having been filled with unhelpful rhetoric and scaremongering by the chief executives of the SFA and SPL.'
As Scottish football's civil war raged on, former SFA president George Peat last night insisted the game had 'hit a brick wall' and that he was now glad to be on the outside looking in.
Peat, who stepped down from his Hampden post last summer after four years in the job — and having commissioned Henry McLeish's Review of Scottish Football — said: 'I am happy to be outside of it all now. It is sad what has happened at Rangers.
'After the McLeish report came out, we were all working together on the way forward . When I left the SFA, the relationship between the SPL and the SFL was very good.
Owner: Charles Green owns newco Rangers
'People were looking at things from the same point of view. Nobody could foresee what was going to happen.
'I hope that what has happened at Rangers hasn't blown it all apart but, from an administration point of view, Scottish football has hit a brick wall.'
Peat admitted he had sympathy for Regan, who he insisted had a responsibility to act for the greater good of the game. 'I believe Stewart has been unfairly criticised,' he said.
'Someone has to take the lead and that's what he did. He is not going to please everybody.
'All he has done is to spell out the road the game could go down and what will happen.
'Perhaps it didn't make good reading for some but, in all of it, somebody has to explain the facts of the situation, whether they are pretty or not.
'He might have gone too far in some people's eyes but this is a situation that has far-reaching consequences.
'SFL clubs have been put in an invidious position. It is SFL clubs who are suffering and they feel they have had the problem dumped on them.
'The clubs are never all going to agree but what is important right now is that people look at what is right for the long-term future of the game.'