Chairman’s diary: SPFL is in impossible situation but it’s time to make decisions

As I write this, I’m aware that what I’m about to say may be out of date depending on the time of day you are reading it. But I hope this gives people an understanding of how things can work in the goldfish bowl of Scottish football.

Hampden Park, headquarters of the SPFL, who will discuss the future of the Scottish game on Wednesday. Picture: SNS

The SPFL was due to hold a video conference Board meeting yesterday, but this was postponed until today. I am completely unaware of what business is to be discussed. This information is never provided. Like everyone else, I pick up what little information I can from the media.

I am led to believe that the call may be an opportunity for the league body to make a decision on recommendations to finish this current season which, at the moment, is indefinitely on hold due to the Coronavirus.

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Putting aside for now the absurdity that members of the SPFL must resort to finding out what is happening in our own members’ organisation from leaks to the media, more importantly, we are all patiently waiting to find out how we might resolve this year’s suspended season.

It seemed that the direction of travel was heading towards the SPFL declaring the league concluded. But then Uefa stepped forward with their thinly veiled threats suggesting that this was a very bad idea.

If leagues were to declare through any other mechanism than by playing them out on the pitch, then entry to the Champions League and Europa leagues could be blocked, they said. With tens of millions of pounds at stake, this puts a new pressure on domestic league bosses to back away from making a decision.

I don’t doubt for a minute just how difficult a decision this will be for the SPFL Board. I know the pressure they will be under from all quarters. I do know just how many hours many of them have been putting in of late to try and find solutions to what is an impossible situation. Whatever the decision there will be those who agree, and many others who don’t.

What I do know is that many clubs are keen for the season to be decided now as it unlikely any more games can be played.

This should hopefully unlock any final payments, however modest they may be. Crucially, it takes us one step closer to trying to figure out what might happen next season. We can turn our energies to agreeing transfer window dates, new season-ticket sales, fixture calendars and start planning for getting back to Saturday football whenever it restarts.

Today there are a series of League video conference calls for each SPFL division, where I sincerely hope that we will hear what direction we will be taking. Maybe, on this occasion, I’ll find out before reading it somewhere else online.

There have, of course, been solutions for league reconstruction put forward from anonymous sources as a way to end the season. This plan was to increase the size of the leagues to have 14 in the Premiership, 12 in the Championship, and two regionalised League 1 leagues for north and south. It was clear that these plans were put forward to serve two purposes, the first to avoid any club being relegated, which would obviously deal with the Hearts threat of legal action, and the second was to once again bring back the idea of Od Firm colt teams coming in to the SPFL.

The colt teams proposal has been put forward each year for the past two years and here we go again. The same proposal put forward again for the third year running. It’s the arrogance of it all that I find so astonishing. They fail to recognise that they can’t just keep bringing forward a proposal containing no benefit to anyone but themselves and expect us to eagerly accept it.

And talking of arrogance, I read in the weekend’s papers that Gordon Smith, former SFA chief and former Director of football at Rangers, is touting his proposal for colts, or reserves, as he has imaginatively rebranded it, once again.

He proudly revealed in the article that he laughed in the face of the chief executive of the old Scottish Football League (SFL), as it was in those days, when lower league clubs rejected his colts proposals in 2009. He laughed at the SFL concerns that Old Firm B teams might take the focus and publicity away from the efforts of the 
other teams in the lower leagues. Gordon Smith, pictured right, said: “I just laughed at that. I said what publicity are they getting in those divisions at the moment?”

This is the complete lack of respect that lower leagues clubs face on a regular basis. This proud admission from Gordon Smith appeared in an article this week! At the same time as he wants us to once again consider his proposals? I rather suspect we will show the same contempt for his proposals as he shows to us as clubs.

l Iain McMenemy is chairman of League Two club Stenhousemuir.