Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers have called on rival clubs to provide financial assistance to help defend thelegal action brought by Hearts and Partick Thistle that could “compromise the sporting integrity of the SPFL”.
The three clubs have considered pulling out of the forthcoming arbitration process due to the rising costs involved. However, legal advice underlined there was “too much at stake” not to defend their position against the joint petition raised by Hearts and Partick Thistle.
Hearts and Thistle want to be re-installed to the Premiership and Championship or else receive compensation totalling up to £10 million after a controversial vote in April to curtain the season.
United – who last night announced Micky Mellon as their new manager – Raith and Cove Rangers are defending their right to be promoted but have reminded SPFL clubs that they will all have to foot the bill if arbitration decides that Hearts and Thistle are due compensation.
A Court of Session hearing last week saw the dispute sent to an arbitration panel.
United, Raith and Cove have already incurred around £50,000 in costs between them and this figure is expected to rise to as much as £150,000 by the time arbitration is completed.
They are set to launch a crowdfunding campaign for “fans from clubs across Scotland” to provide further financial assistance ahead of the arbitration process, which is due to start this week. The three clubs posted broadly similar statements on their official websites yesterday.
United made the point that on the day the Premiership fixture list for 2020/21 was published, with the club’s name finally back on it, they were “embroiled” in preparation work for an SFA arbitration process that could have potentially ruinous consequences for them. The issue threatened to overshadow confirmation that Mellon, inset, had been named the club’s new manager.
“After a rigorous process where we spoke to a large number of excellent candidates, we see Micky as the man to lead our team into the Scottish Premiership and continue the success we have achieved so far,” said sporting director Tony Asghar.
United’s earlier statement acknowledged the possibility that Mellon might not be leading the team into the Premiership.
“If successful in their action, in our opinion Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle would compromise the sporting integrity of the SPFL with clubs having been declared champions not being promoted,” their statement argued. “Having won the Championship by a considerable margin, and invested substantial sums of money in preparing for next season in the Premiership, a decision to overturn the SPFL resolution that was supported by 34 of the 42 member clubs would be ruinous for us and our fans.
“Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle could also be awarded significant sums in terms of compensation.
“Their compensation claim is for a total of £10m. For the SPFL and its member clubs this would have potentially catastrophic consequences, with any compensation payment made to Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle being paid directly out of SPFL funds that are distributed to all clubs each season as prize money.
“It is with these factors in mind, that, along with Raith Rovers and Cove, we are reaching out to our fellow member clubs for support in defending this action, which has not only potentially grave consequences for us, but every SPFL club.”
The Scottish FA yesterday confirmed a formal request to set up an independent arbitration panel had been received.
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