Donald Findlay has no pity for ‘bleating’ SPL sides

Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay. Picture: SNS
Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay. Picture: SNS
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COWDENBEATH chairman Donald Findlay claims the “bleating” Scottish Premier League club chiefs who have attacked St Mirren and Ross County over the failed league reconstruction bid only have themselves to blame.

Plans to introduce a new 12-12-18 set-up under one league body were shot down on Monday when Buddies chairman Stewart Gilmour and his Staggies counterpart Roy MacGregor both voted no. That drew stinging rebukes from Hearts chief executive David Southern and Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne, with Gilmour in particular picked out for criticism.

But Cowdenbeath chief Findlay – a former Rangers vice-chairman – says those attacks are the actions of desperate men now releasing that their decision to refuse the Ibrox club re-entry to the SPL after they were reformed as a newco last summer has proved costly.

Findlay, who resigned his boardroom role at Rangers in 1999 after being filmed singing a controversial anthem, said: “What I find ironic is the hysterical reaction of certain Premier League chairmen who kicked Rangers out of the SPL for whatever reason.

“Suddenly they have realised they have made a big mistake and now want them back in [the same league body] as quickly as possible – but they haven’t got their way. Well hell mend you, you shouldn’t have kicked them out in the first place.

“It’s far too easy to blame the likes of St Mirren and Ross County for what they have done. Of course it is. The problem with the Premier League is that the people who should make themselves out to be the scapegoats are the ones who kicked Rangers out. What we are seeing now is a fit of pique. They think everybody else should just behave like a bunch of nodding dogs. They are now not happy because some people have said no. All this bleating that is going on is quite comical.”

The league reconstruction bid would have seen the SPL merge with the Scottish Football League’s three divisions and reformed in a new three-tier set-up. A fairer share of income and the introduction of play-offs were also promised. But those hopes have now been sunk after the SPL clubs failed to reach the minimum 11-1 majority to proceed.

Hamilton chairman Les Gray has called a meeting of the ten Irn-Bru First Division clubs, including Cowdenbeath, for Monday with the prospect of an SPL2 expected to be on the agenda, although SFL chief executive David Longmuir insists there is no plan for a “breakaway”.

Findlay will attend the second-tier get-together but is adamant that Cowdenbeath are “not interested” in joining SPL2 and claims the club favours a 42-club solution. And he was similarly outspoken on the 12-12-18 plans, which several club chairmen have insisted had to be brought in to stave off financial disaster.

“I have never thought that simply tinkering with the league structure was the answer,” he said. “All this stuff about having two leagues of 12 and then they split at midnight or whatever is definitely not the answer. Clubs only go out of business because they are not being run properly. It’s as simple as that. If you run your club in the right way and live within their means, your club will not be going out of business.

“You can do what Cowdenbeath does, and that is live within your means – and we do not have a single penny of debt – or you get the right people in charge of the game, which we don’t, to make sure we have a structure which means every club gets a fair share of the income so the smaller clubs get the chance to develop its own players and improve the quality of the product. That would mean, however, that the big clubs would have to live within their means, which they currently seem incapable of doing.”

And Findlay suggested the time was now up for SFA chief executive Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster, his opposite number at the SPL. He said: “I would pose the following questions: under the stewardship of Mr Regan and Mr Doncaster has the game improved? Has the product improved? Have the crowds improved? Has the income improved? Has the sponsorship improved. If the answer is as obvious as it is, then those who organise the game – namely the club chairman – ought to ask if they haven’t done so, isn’t it time we brought in the men who will?”

Stirling Albion’s operations director, Stuart Brown, believes the forthcoming meeting of the First Division clubs is “inappropriate” and claims the formation of an SPL2 would be a retrograde step for the game in Scotland. He said: “There is an element of divisiveness about that meeting.”