Hard work starts now, says Raith chief

Eric Drysdale Raith Rovers
Eric Drysdale Raith Rovers
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RAITH Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale insists the hard work starts now after league reconstruction was finally voted through on Wednesday.

Scottish Football League clubs voted 23-6, one more than was required, in favour of the proposed merger with the SPL, spelling the end for the SFL as an organisation after 123 years in existence.

A new Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) is to be formed encompassing all 42 senior league clubs, with a new financial redistribution model and promotion play-offs in division one.

Drysdale played a leading role in the reconstruction talks having been part of a steering group representing first divison clubs who threatened to breakway from the SFL if the vote failed.

He said: “There’s no truimphalism about this, and in some ways it’s quite sad that the SFL as a seperate entity will be no more in a couple of week time.

“But nothing is forever and we have the opportunity here to change Scottish football for the better. It’s now all under one roof, and there will be no to-ing and fro-ing betwen separate organisations.

“We’ve managed to get a consensus in Scottish football and that’s far from easy at the best of times, now we have to take things forward.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get us here, but there’s an awful lot of hard work to be done to get things ready for the new season - and that starts now.”

Drysdale believes that the campaigning carried out by First Division clubs in the build-up to the vote was crucial in its positive outcome.

“First Division clubs making their position clear through separate meetings was a significant factor in pushing this over the line,” he said.

“I have a funny feeling the vote would’ve been much closer to 16-13, as it was during the last meeting in May, had we not done so.”

Drysdale described the merger as a “leap of faith” after admitting that some of the financial details are still unknown.

“We know what percentage of the total figure we’ll get depending on our league position but we don’t know what that total figure is,” he said.

“The best estimate on the net sum for distribution is £18m but there are still some unknowns in terms of income.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage with regards overseas TV rights for the new SPFL, and that, combined with securing a sponsor, will have a significant impact on figures.”

First Division clubs are set to benefit most from the new financial redistribution model but Drysdale insisted that the motives behind the merger were not purely financial.

“It was not all about money, it’s to do with football competition as well,” he stressed.

“I think this will re-invigorate Scottish football and introducing promotion play-offs in the first division will bring more excitement for supporters.

“I’ve had messages saying ‘well done’ from both Neil Doncaster and Stewart Reagan - everyone is on the same side here in wanting what is best for Scottish football.”

MATTHEW ELDER

Twitter: @mattelder_ffp