Iain Russell: SPL ‘fat cats’ must open doors for vibrant band of First Division sides

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After last Saturday’s wonderful win down at Dumfries against Queen of the South, we look forward to a massive game against Falkirk. A win here would put us up to second place in the league and that is what we will be going to Falkirk Stadium to do.

The Bairns are enjoying a fantastic season – as well as sitting second in the league they are in the Ramsdens Cup Final and the League Cup semi-final. It is in the League Cup where they have drawn most attention, with their 3-2 victory over Rangers proving particularly eye-catching. This was seen as one of the shocks of the last few years, but was it really?

Steven Pressley’s side then travelled to Tannadice to play Dundee United in the quarters. Here, they proved the result against Rangers was not a one-off and managed to beat another SPL side to reach the last four. This is fast becoming a trend with every passing season, teams from the lower leagues outdoing SPL sides and reaching semi-finals and finals. You only have to look at the other League Cup semi where Kilmarnock will face First Division Ayr United in a game that has captured the imagination of the whole of Ayrshire.

Ayr have knocked out three SPL sides en route to this match. Who would bet against an all First Division Cup Final?

Results in recent years prove there is not much between the SPL and the First Division. People may suggest that these Cup matches are a one-off, but I disagree. Every season it is a regular occurrence and these cup shocks are slowly becoming the norm.

The gulf in quality is marginal, if anything, between the bottom half of the SPL and many teams in First Division. This has been the case for a number of years now. It has been voiced on so many occasions that the SPL needs to be increased again and that we need 14 or 16 teams playing in our top flight. However, the fat cats in our game are reluctant to share the wealth in Scotland’s top league and are selfishly only allowing one team to be promoted each season into our 12-team SPL.

Will the governing bodies of our game ever agree on a change? With three separate bodies, will they ever all agree on anything?

For now, though, the First Division will continue to be arguably the most competitive league in Britain and each year teams will continue to defeat the SPL sides on a regular basis in the cup competitions.

With 10 sides in the First Division of almost equal quality and all desperate to pit their wits against the top sides in Scotland each week, it is sad that only one of these teams will be allowed to do so.