Hearts’ SPFL division reconstruction proposals to be considered on Wednesday

Hearts have submitted proposals for a temporary restructure of the Scottish leagues into ‘three enlarged divisions’ of 14 clubs each.

Hearts have circulated the proposals to their fellow clubs and they will be considered by the SPFL board at a meeting on Wednesday.

Hearts owner Ann Budge has suggested three divisions made up of 14 teams for the next two years, while acknowledging a number of lower-league teams might not be able to play at all next season given the costs of Covid-19 testing and playing behind closed doors.

In the document Hearts have submitted, Budge said: “This is not about permanent reconstruction.

“It is about finding a path to deal with the emergency situation, which is likely to impact all member clubs for the next two seasons.

“When we are through this emergency, we can look then at how best to move forward to start to rebuild Scottish football.”

As it stands, Premiership side Hearts, Championship team Partick Thistle and League One Stranraer are set to be relegated, following the decision to end the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Budge’s proposed changes to the current 12-12-12-10 structure would solve what the plan describes as the “much debated unfairness and unjustness of relegating clubs as a result of the early termination of season 2019/20”.

However, four clubs in League One would effectively drop down into the bottom division, despite nominally staying in the same division.

Budge has also proposed a change to the financial distribution model for the teams who finish 13th and 14th, meaning her plan would need the backing of 11 of the 12 top-flight teams.

However, she has argued that her plan would not cost any more money than compensating the three clubs who were previously consigned to relegation.

The plans would also create an imbalance in the number of games teams in each division would play after a mid-season split – a top six in the Premiership playing 36 times and sides in the bottom eight playing 40 games.

Budge claims her plan offers flexibility amid clubs’ battle for survival.

The document states: “Hearts not being in the Premier League at this time would seriously limit our ability to help Scottish football.

“In short, the Premiership needs Hearts more than the Championship does.

“This paper is not about restructuring. It is about survival.

“Given everything else that our communities are dealing with at this time, we must stand together to try to ensure they do not lose their football clubs too.

“If, unfortunately, some clubs are unable to compete, there will be a greater likelihood that league competitions will still be able to continue, if these larger groupings are put in place, albeit not necessarily in the proposed format.

“We might end up with 14 teams in the Premiership, with 10 or 12 in the Championship, and with even fewer in League One.”

A number of Premiership clubs appeared to halt reconstruction plans earlier this month but the likelihood of a number of clubs being unable to compete for a lengthy period has since become more apparent.

The plan would ultimately need to be voted in by clubs, with the threshold set at 75 per cent in the lower leagues.

Hearts’ plans have drawn support from Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack.

Cormack said: “We’ve consistently said we don’t believe major and permanent league reconstruction should be carried out in the midst of this crisis.

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