Scottish leagues to combine after smaller clubs back plan

LONDON Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:03pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish football clubs will be reunited in a new professional league next season after smaller teams backed a plan designed to spread limited revenues more evenly.

The agreement reverses a breakaway by top clubs to form the Scottish Premier League (SPL) 15 years ago and will allow more money to filter down to the second tier.

Scottish Football League clubs approved the changes on Wednesday, marking the end of the road for a league body set up in 1890. The shake-up has already won the blessing of SPL teams.

The main change that fans will notice is the introduction of end-of-season play-offs to decide one of the places in the top division. The current structure of a 12-team top flight and three lower divisions of top 10 teams each will remain.

Many clubs are facing a struggle to survive financially in Scotland after 54-times champions Rangers collapsed under a pile of debt last year. Rangers have just been promoted to the third tier after they were forced to relaunch from the bottom level of the national game.

Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic have long dominated Scottish football. Away from those two clubs, attendances are modest and the value of television rights is relatively low.

(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Clare Fallon)

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