Leslie Deans has suggested Hearts supporters would now welcome their side petitioning to join the English league after the latest perceived injustice to be visited on the Tynecastle club.
Deans, a former Hearts chairman, has been a voluble critic of the football authorities this summer following the club’s demotion to the Championship after a controversial vote in April narrowly sanctioned curtailing last season. An independent tribunal recently ratified this decision.
Deans has been left aghast by the latest decision to stop Hearts training. The order has come amid a bid by the football authorities to provide government health officials with the confidence that Scottish football can follow relevant guidelines after recent breaches of Covid-19 related protocol by eight players from Aberdeen and one from Celtic.
As a result, all teams outwith the Premiership have been ordered to delay their return to training until 24 August. Only one of these clubs, Hearts, had already started.
It emerged yesterday that English Championship side Hull City were training at the Tynecastle club’s Riccarton complex while Hearts themselves were forbidden to continue preparations for the new season.
“I wonder what is going to happen next?” asked Deans, a lawyer. “What are Hearts going to suffer next? This is only a few weeks after the secretive tribunal found against Hearts and Partick Thistle. Now the club is being punished for misdemeanours by Celtic and Aberdeen. Hearts have suffered financial loss after the about-turn by the SFA/SPFL, who initially suggested their decision was forced by the Scottish government, something that was flatly denied by Professor Jason Leitch.
“The whole thing frankly stinks. If they were offered the opportunity for Hearts to up sticks and leave Scottish football and join the English football league, I wonder how many of the Hearts rank and file support would say: ‘you know what, we would prefer that option’.
“Would it be sad? Of course, it would be. We are located in the country’s capital. But there comes a limit to the amount of cr*p you can take. And this frankly takes the biscuit.”
Deans has sympathy for those clubs caught up through no fault of their own in the recent cases of players breaching guidelines issued due to the need to reduce the chance of contacting – and spreading – Covid-19.
Eight Aberdeen players went for a meal together before visiting a city centre bar after the 1-0 defeat by Rangers on the opening day of the season and two subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Celtic left-back Boli Bolingoli, meanwhile, left Scotland for 24 hours last week to visit Spain without informing his club and then played against Kilmarnock on Sunday.
“There are also other clubs in the SPFL – St Johnstone, who should have played Aberdeen, and St Mirren, who should have played Celtic,” he said. “What thoughts are being given to them for games that are being put off?
“The correct thing that should have been done is that in these matches Aberdeen and Celtic should both have forfeited the game. The game is not being played because of direct action by players from these clubs and therefore the clubs involved should forfeit the game.
“And, indeed, the game between the two of them, Celtic v Aberdeen, should also be shown as having been played in the played column, with both handed a 0-3 defeat.”
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