Les Gray calls for open-mindedness in search for solution in Scotland


SPFL board member Gray feels club opinions are split evenly as to whether outcome should be temporary or long term.

A task force looking into Scottish league reconstruction must be open-minded over whether it is a temporary fix or long-term solution, according to co-chairman Les Gray.

Gray’s joint chair, Hearts owner Ann Budge, has already claimed any change should be for one or two seasons with her club set to follow Partick Thistle and Stranraer in being relegated as a result of moves to end the Scottish Professional Football League season early because of the pandemic.

But that assumption was soon challenged by others on the 15-strong panel, including Falkirk chairman Gary Deans and Ayr counterpart Lachlan Cameron, ahead of the first meeting on Monday.

Hamilton Academical v Celtic – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – New Douglas Park
Les Gray has called for fairness (PA)

SPFL board member Gray feels club opinions are split evenly as to whether it should be temporary or long term.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme: “We have polar opposite views on temporary or fixed and what we have got to do is not pre-empt that.

“That’s why I will say to Ann is that her and I, as co-chairs of this group, should refrain from talking about temporary or fixed at this stage. That’s a debate for the clubs.

“We have to start from a position of neutrality and try to bring people together.”

Gray admits he has no idea whether the plans will eventually get enough backing.

The Hamilton director added: “I feel really passionate about it, when we made the decision as a (SPFL) board, which were for the right reasons, that we need to see it through.

“We need to get to the next stage and try to deliver a situation where the clubs that were disaffected are remedied. That will include Hearts and Partick Thistle.

“I’m a Partick Thistle fan born and bred. People don’t know that, Hamilton fans probably don’t know that. But I was born in Maryhill and it’s painful for me to see Thistle get relegated, and Hearts to get relegated on the back of a decision like this.

Ann Budge File Photo
Hearts owner Ann Budge has already claimed any change should be for one or two seasons (PA)

“So I want to make sure the terms of reference are quite clear. The terms of reference will be simply to create league reconstruction through an expanded Premiership which will then obviously have (an) impact on Championship, League One, League Two and potentially the pyramid.

“We don’t need to get caught up in distribution and all the other stuff just yet.”

Ayr chairman Cameron, who favours an 18 or 20-team top flight, wrote on his club’s official website: “Historically, I have been fairly vocal in my beliefs on what the league structure should be and although I don’t expect that to change, I will be going into this with a long-term view on how the leagues should be reconstructed and not just what kind of band aid we could use to cover this season’s wounds.”