Historical Football Kits

 

The Scottish Professional Football League

Formed in 1890, the Scottish Football league was the third oldest national league in the world (the Irish League was formed three weeks earlier). Originally the competition was strictly amateur, (professionalism was not recognised in Scotland until 1893) and formed of eleven clubs, ten of which were based in the West of Scotland. Of the original members, only Celtic, Dumbarton, Hearts, Rangers and St Mirren survive.

Scotland is unique in having three quite separate governing bodies and structures for the sport. "Senior" competition is governed by the Scottish FA (SFA) and included members of the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football League, Highland League etc. "Junior" clubs play at a level below that of the Senior clubs and are governed by the Scottish Junior FA (SJFA). "Junior" refers to the standard rather than the age of the players. Junior and Senior clubs did not compete against each other (with a few historical exceptions) and there was no mechanism for clubs to progress from Junior to Senior status. Some clubs who dropped out of the Scottish League continue to play within the Junior framework. In recent years a select number of Junior clubs were allowed to take part in the Scottish FA Cup

A third body, the Scottish Amateur Football Association (SAFA) oversees some 1,000 clubs in 67 different local leagues playing at a lower level. Unlike England, there is no pyramid structure in Scotland and while clubs are free to change affiliation, they cannot progress through the different levels.

The Scottish Premier League (SPL) broke away in 1998.

The SFA commissioned McLeish Report (2010), which called for a wholesale reorganisation of Scottish professional football, was shelved although the Rangers debacle in 2012 reinvigorated calls for reform of what many supporters and commentators regarded as a discredited and fragmented structure. Although many proposals were made, a combination of self-interest and lacklustre leadership meant none were adopted.

Finally, in June 2013 the SFL clubs voted in favour of a plan put forward by the SPL clubs to merge the two leagues as the Scottish Professional Football League. Although nominally a merger, this was effectively a take-over by the SPL and marked the end of the Scottish Football League.

Dave Moor (June 2013)