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SPFL: Five top flight clubs commission independent SPFL review

Neil Doncaster is the Scottish Professional Football League chief executive
The Scottish Professional Football League has been running Scotland’s four top divisions since 2013

Five Scottish Premiership clubs have commissioned independent advisers to conduct a review of the SPFL.

Hibernian, Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Dundee say the aim is to find “significant additional revenues for the benefit of all”.

The governing body for the leagues has endorsed the evaluation, which Deloitte will undertake.

“We believe a clear vision and strategy with measurable goals is needed,” say the clubs involved.

The group is encouraging engagement from other member clubs and say they will publish the key outcomes and recommendations, with the process expected to take six months.

The “strategic and holistic review” will cover four main points:

  • Commercial growth
  • The SPFL brand
  • SPFL structure, governance, organisation, resources & competition
  • Strategic projects

The five clubs insist it is “not about redistribution of existing income sources in favour of so-called ‘bigger clubs’,” adding that “a rising tide lifts all ships”.

It is hoped the annual distribution to member clubs can be increased from its current level of £27m a year to “at least £50m” within the next five years.

They go on to say improved revenues will help produce “better, more technically gifted players”, to compete in Europe and for Scotland.

The SPFL was formed in June 2013 following a merger between the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.

Chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “We wholeheartedly welcome and support any initiative that has the good of the game at its heart.”

US influence a driving force for change – analysis

BBC Scotland’s Tom English

These clubs have been talking for some time, brought together by a mutual frustration at the corporate governance of the SPFL. That covers a multitude but there is a strong feeling among this group – driven by American owners – that the league is punching way below its weight and that things need to change.

There are people in this group with huge experience of the can-do culture in American sport. A number of them feel that the SPFL, under chief executive Neil Doncaster, should be more ambitious and innovative in terms of selling the Premiership. They feel that the SPFL is poorly marketed and suffers from a negative mindset at the top.

This is about exploiting commercial opportunities and maximising broadcasting deals. For some, it’s also about regime change. The prospect of a breakaway league has been mentioned as a last ditch scenario, an emergency measure to be re-examined more closely if they feel they are getting nowhere.

Doncaster has given his backing to the report. This is basically a forensic examination of how he and his executive is doing its business. This could get very interesting.

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