Dundee United to step up campaign for more play-offs ahead of Hampden summit

By John Greechan for MailOnline

Ready to rally: United chairman   Stephen Thompson

Ready to rally: United chairman Stephen Thompson

SPL rebels opposed to the controversial 10-team top tier will use the festive period to step up their campaign for radical amendments to the proposed blueprint for change.

Monday's Hampden summit, intended to discuss cutting the top flight and introducing relegation play-offs, has been postponed until January 4 because of the Arctic conditions sweeping the country.

The delay will hand chairmen like Dundee United's Stephen Thompson, plus those from Hearts, Kilmarnock and Inverness, the chance to rally others around their cause, which includes introducing play-offs at the top - as well as the bottom - of the league.

There is genuine frustration that, under the SPL plans, Rangers and Celtic are putting themselves at little risk while the remaining eight teams would compete in a league that could see a quarter of their number relegated every season.

United are floating a concept that would see European places decided by head-to-head clashes, with the teams placed two to five in the table scrapping over the right to fly the flag in continental competition.

And Sportsmail understands there is also a far-fetched proposal to put the SPL title on the line of North American-style play-offs, with the top four teams at the end of the campaign fighting it out for the championship in a series of play-off matches climaxing in a winner-takes-all grand Hampden final.

While such an incredible proposal is likely to be quickly dismissed, Thompson argues for play-offs for the European spots and said: 'If there is to be a 10-team league - and I still do not think that is right for Scottish football from a purely footballing sense - why can't it be more radical?

'I strongly believe that fans of teams outwith the Old Firm have become fed up of those two sharing the title between them. 'Indeed, it is incredible and extremely regrettable that the last non-Old Firm title win was 25 years ago.

'So I think we need to go further and make things more interesting at the top of the table as well as having promotion/relegation play-offs at the bottom.'

And a Hearts spokesman told Sportsmail: 'We are certainly behind change in Scottish football - but that has to be the right change for the right reasons.

'It's also imperative that we look at both ends of the table. In that way, we can generate renewed supporter interest and maximise commercial revenues.'

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