Contents of clubs’ WhatsApp group sheds new light on SPFL vote

Dundee plea for ‘No’ solidarity revealed

Dundee managing director John Nelms. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“Aelea iacta est, as they said in Ancient Rome. DFC vote submitted.” This phrase, at least the Latin part of it – I am not sure “DFC vote submitted” was ever uttered in Ancient Rome – is said to have been delivered by Julius Caesar to his army as they prepared to cross the Rubicon River. It translates as the die is cast – no turning back.

Caesar could not have imagined this rallying cry to the troops turning up in Appendix Six of a Rangers FC dossier that hoped to give adequate grounds for suspending the SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and lawyer Rod McKenzie following the controversial vote to end the league season. It was quoted by Eric Drysdale, the Dundee secretary, after he had pressed the send button on his club’s vote.

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The release of the full transcript of WhatsApp messages between football club officials on April 9 and 10, the day of the ill-fated ballot, provided a revealing insight into how they interact when part of a group chat. Pretty much like everyone else does, it seems.

Emojis such as smiley faces, clapping hands and even a bunny face – “Happy Easter Rod,” writes Partick Thistle chief executive Gerry Britton under an image of the Partick Thistle reject slip – are employed. This band of brothers and one sister – Jacqui Low of Thistle features prominently – were the refuseniks from the Championship. Or, at least, the supposed refuseniks.

Low comes across as a voice of reason. She takes down the SPFL board with a swift two-line swipe that deserved a flickering flame emoji. She burns them.

“This is an entity used to get its own way, steered by an arrogant in-house lawyer who wants nothing to change, and who does things in way that suit the SPFL not clubs,” Low writes.

“For the first time – possibly ever – clubs have stood up to them. They are in danger of losing face and, potentially, face a vote of no confidence for poor leadership in a national emergency. They are cornered – so they have to do whatever it takes to win.”

One message is genuinely jaw dropping. “JN” – yes, Dundee’s John Nelms, who to pursue the classics theme, turns out to be Brutus in the extent of his betrayal – asks, at a minute before midday on the day of the vote, for people’s thoughts on a “co-ordinated submission of voting slips with like-minded clubs from different division”. He then adds “A bit of solidarity” just in case anyone’s in any doubt.

Six hours later, when it becomes clear the SPFL have not received Dundee’s vote, Nelms is conspicuous by his absence on the chat. Et tu, Eric? Drysdale sweats it out on his boss’s behalf. Seems Dundee’s PDF has “tripped the firewall” – to repeat that now well-known phrase.

Low then points out, very reasonably: “Eric, as the 5pm deadline isn’t statutory, just advisory, you can resend and it counts as the deadline isn’t for 28 days. Isn’t that an option?”

Of course it was an option. But Dundee didn’t choose to take it. Which brought us to yesterday – and a 200-page dossier to wade through.

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