THE twenty clubs in League One and League Two have been asked by the SPFL to vote on a proposal that would see Scotland's lower leagues play out a 22-game season this term.

The two divisions were originally scheduled to play 27 games over the course of the campaign - playing every other side in the league three times - but after League One and League Two were suspended for over two months due to a surge in Covid-19 cases across Scotland, that calendar is no longer feasible.

Lower league clubs were given the green light to return to training earlier this month and the competitions are set to resume this weekend. However, the final format of the leagues is yet to be confirmed.

The SPFL have been pushing for a 18-game format that would see every team play the others just twice, while the 20 clubs have united behind a proposal that would create a 22-game season. After 18 matches, a split would be introduced, with each half of the division then playing the others one more time.

Scottish football's governing body were initially reluctant to pursue the idea, citing concerns over the fixture schedule. This was in part due to the need to accommodate the ninth-placed team in the Championship, who will be involved in the play-off finals in May.

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In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the SPFL revealed that its board had urged clubs to consider an 18-game season - something they argued was a "practical and realistic option".

But after discussions with a 'Steering Group' that represented the 20 teams in the negotiations - comprised of club chairs Jim Brown (Edinburgh City), Martin Johnston (Peterhead), Jacqui Low (Partick Thistle), Iain McMenemey (Stenhousemuir) and Gordon Thomson (Clyde) - the SPFL have now agreed for a vote on a 22-game format.

In order for the resolution to pass it must garner 75 per cent of votes but given the clubs' unified stance on the change in format, this is not expected to be a problem.

However, the SPFL have attached conditions to the proposal. All teams must have played 18 games by Friday 23 April. In the event that fixtures have not been fulfilled by this deadline, the league will conclude after 18 games.

Additionally, should any team in its division fail to play its 18 games by Thursday 6 May, the final league table will be calculated on a points-per-game basis.

Should the matches all be completed by the original April deadline, the SPFL will then produce post-split fixtures. Again, if they cannot all be fulfilled by Thursday 6 May, the league will revert to a points-per-game system.

The final standings will then be used to determine which sides qualify for the play-offs in the usual manner: each division's champions gain automatic promotion, while the remainder of the top four and the ninth-placed side in the next league up will contest the play-offs.

The play-off finals will now go ahead at the slightly later date of Saturday 8 May to allow for more wiggle room in the schedule in the event that games are postponed.

The SPFL added that all 20 clubs have agreed that no side, regardless of how many outstanding fixtures they have left to play, can play any more than four games in an eight-day period.

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Commenting on the breakthrough in negotiations, SPFL company secretary Calum Beattie said: “Since the suspension of League 1 and 2 matches was lifted by the Scottish FA on 2 March, we have been in near-constant communication with the club representatives that make up the League 1 and 2 Steering Group.

"Those discussions have been very productive with everyone working extremely hard to develop a proposition that is agreeable to all parties.

“Although the recommendation from the SPFL board was that an 18-match season was the most practicable option, we fully recognise and respect the desire from clubs in Leagues 1 and 2 to aim for 22 games.

“I am pleased we have now reached an agreement that I hope will be approved by the clubs in the coming days.”