Hearts and Partick Thistle have insisted they are not in dispute with promoted clubs Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers – adding that their cash plea to fund a legal defence could cause “further division” within Scottish football.
The two relegated sides stressed their complaint is against the Scottish Professional Football League after they both suffered enforced demotion last season along with Stranraer.
The matter has been referred by the Court of Session to the Scottish Football Association for arbitration, which is expected to begin next week.
Hearts and Thistle spoke out after United, Raith and Cove appealed for financial help to continue their legal defence. If Hearts and Partick get their relegations reversed, United, Raith and Cove would be denied promotion.
The saga has caused well-documented friction at all levels of the SPFL and beyond but Hearts and Thistle made it clear they are not fighting the promoted teams.
Their statement read: “As a matter of urgency, we would like to clarify our position in relation to the role being played by Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers in our case against the SPFL.
“Those clubs were named in the Petition, along with Stranraer, because they are the clubs most likely to be impacted by a decision in our favour. We are not, and have never been, in direct dispute with them.
“The SPFL is opposing our Petition and will do so at the forthcoming arbitration. Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were not therefore required to litigate or arbitrate against us. However, they chose to do so.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we accept that was a choice they were fully entitled to make, no doubt having been fully advised of the risks and costs. We absolutely know and understand that was not a decision to be taken lightly.
“This is not about two Clubs, Hearts and Partick Thistle, battling against other member Clubs. This is about these two Clubs battling against the organisation, which is meant to look after all of our interests, and holding them accountable for their prejudicial actions. We would contend that any Club in our position would be taking similar action.
“However, encouraging clubs to fund anyone’s costs in this process could create further division. We consider such an approach to be at odds with the fundamental requirement of the SPFL rules that the SPFL and each Club shall behave towards each other with the utmost good faith. We cannot therefore let that pass without comment.”
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