MARK WARBURTON insists an earlier domestic finish is the best way to improve Scottish football – not an extension to the season with the introduction of more fixtures.

The SPFL this week unveiled plans that will see the League Cup undergo a significant overhaul for the new campaign, with a round robin group stage the major talking point to emerge from Hampden.

The plans will see clubs play four fixtures in a fortnight in July in the opening round of the competition, with a three week winter break set to be introduced for Premiership clubs.

But Rangers boss Warburton reckons the end of the season should be brought forward to allow players more time to recover and clubs more time to prepare for the next term.

He said: “Teams suffer in European competitions because, if they draw a Scandinavian team, they are four, six weeks behind in preparations so that squad is match fit.

“Therefore, we have to finish the season earlier. If you are going to start European football in the second week of July then you are coming back for pre-season the first week in June.

“If you are back the second week in June, when do you finish the season?

“To keep your product fresh, the players need to have recovery. They need to have that break to come back fully charged.

“That, to me, is not appropriate [an appropriate break] to prepare elite players for the challenges that lie ahead. You want the best possible chance to succeed.

“We are talking about Scottish football getting better. Does that really help the top league teams?

“I am sure it helps the full spectrum, but all the debate you guys come to me about regards the elite level, the national squad, Under-17, Under-19, Under-21.

“The best young players need to get away, get to America, play against Dortmund or Sevilla or Roma at Ibrox.

“They need that challenge to then go away with the national teams and to prepare for the full Scottish national squad, which is how you improve the national game.

“You don’t improve the national game by trying to appease everyone. It is just my view.”

While the new format was greeted with widespread approval in the hours after the SPFL made their plans public this week, there have been voices of discontent in some quarters at the way the announcement was made and the changes that will be implemented.

The first competitive fixtures will be played between July 16-30 before the league campaigns get underway and Rangers will be involved in the group stage ahead of what they hope will be a return to Premiership action.

But Warburton admits it will be the top flight that will be the priority for him as he looks to get his squad in shape next summer.

He said: “You have got to give yourself the best chance in the biggest competition surely? You have to.

“If all goes well and we achieve our aims this season, next year we have got to be as competitive as we possibly can be to have a strong league campaign.

“If it starts 7th, 8th, 9th August, we have got to be in best possible shape for that.

“I am not sure going Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday against a variety of opposition is what you want to prepare yourself.”