Ann Budge: Hearts will not vote for SPFL league resolution

Tynecastle chief feels no club should be punished for exceptional circumstances

Hearts owner Ann Budge.

Hearts have vowed to keep lobbying for an equitable and fair solution to the current coronavirus crisis, which has thrown Scottish football into “apparent disarray”.

Issuing a statement late onWednesday night, club owner Ann Budge said that the club would not be supporting the recommended SPFL resolution to terminate the season for Championship, League One and League Two sides. The same resolution could ultimately sanction the premature end to the Premiership campaign as well, relegating the Tynecastle club, who are currently four points adrift at the foot of the table.

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Having read the proposals, Budge said that many of the league member clubs believed, as she does, that a decision of such magnitude requires significantly more discussion and debate than has been made available to us.

“I absolutely understand that finding an equitable outcome for all will not be easy. I firmly believe that we must try to find a solution which ensures that no club should be penalised as a consequence of these exceptional circumstances,” Budge said.

“It was emphasised today that some clubs, particularly those in the lower Leagues, need funds to be released to help them navigate their way through this exceptional situation. I do not accept however, that this resolution needs to be passed in order to release those funds. If the Government can change the Laws of the Land, within 24 hours, to cope with this crisis, then surely it cannot be impossible for Scottish football’s governing bodies to modify rules to get things done. This is a time for pragmatism, not rules. There are other ways of addressing the current financial challenges and as such we will be supporting the Members Resolution being put forward by Rangers.”

The Hearts chairwoman, who has had to furlough staff and agree wage cuts of up to 30% with players and non-football employees, revealed that she had written to the SPFL on 15 March asking that all 42 clubs be given the opportunity and time to discuss the unprecedented situation fully but said that has not yet happened and “we now find ourselves once again in apparent disarray”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I am not pointing fingers at the SPFL Executive, nor indeed at the Board, as I know how much effort has gone into trying to find a way through this totally unprecedented situation. However, an issue of this scale was always going to demand full involvement of the member Clubs.

“I also asked that we try to see this as an opportunity to look at whether a league restructure, so often talked about, could help us through this difficult time. I was disappointed to read in the papers issued today that it will be considered, but it was also stated that “…it is very difficult to achieve consensus behind any restructuring proposal, let alone quickly”.

“This is an emergency situation,” she stated, “It needs actions befitting an emergency situation. Decisions taken to see us through this emergency do not have to be cast in stone. We need to look at the restructuring option with belief that it will help and not with negativity.

This is a time for all Clubs and SPFL partners to pull together to find an equitable solution for all. If something is right, it is right: if it is wrong, it is wrong.”