Hearts owner Ann Budge slams SPFL for ‘unduly influencing’ clubs over resolution vote

Ann Budge has claimed the SPFL were unwilling to work around perceived problems with a proposal from Rangers to issue clubs with loans based on projected prize money.

Ann Budge has revealed Hearts' proposal for a 'temporary readjustment of the leagues'. Picture: SNS.

The Hearts owner revealed the proposal was deemed ineffective because of a single word. Budge has strongly criticised the entire process of the SPFL’s resolution to curtail the season due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

She has accused the SPFL board of attempting to “unduly influence” clubs as the vote continues to hang in the balance.

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The ballot hinges on Dundee, who have yet to cast their vote. SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan has confirmed a voting slip from the Dens Park club did not arrive at the SPFL offices until late on Friday evening, by which time Dundee managing director John Nelms had made contact to stress it should not be considered as having been cast.

Rangers have now repeated calls for an independent inquiry into the SPFL vote. They also want SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster suspended from his role.

A spokesman stated that the Ibrox club learned from SPFL legal advisor Rod McKenzie that a proposed resolution from Rangers was deemed unnecessary because the SPFL board already had the authority to provide loans to clubs.

“Our resolution was never intended to release end-of-season fee payments but instead to provide loans as an advance on such payments,” said the spokesperson. “It is now apparent that this is already within the power of the SPFL. Member clubs facing short-term financial difficulties should request a loan from the SPFL immediately.”

Budge revealed that Rangers submitted their paperwork to the SPFL on Thursday 9 April and were told it required the support of two other clubs.

Hearts were one of the clubs that submitted an identical resolution to the SPFL. It was not until the following day, hours before the 5pm deadline for voting on the SPFL’s resolution, that the Tynecastle club received an email stating the proposal was ineffective.

“Our in-house lawyer contacted the SPFL to understand in what manner the resolution was not competent, to be informed that the issue was the use of the single word ‘instructed’ as opposed to ‘requested’,” revealed Budge. “I am not a lawyer but find it quite incomprehensible that this should hold up the whole process,” she added.

Budge also revealed that Hearts, either alone or with other clubs, plan to propose a “temporary adjustment to the leagues” aimed at ensuring no club is financially penalised due to what she described as “exceptional circumstances”.

She has estimated Hearts would stand to lose £2.5 million to £3m if the club are relegated despite having eight league games left to play.

“This would be on top of the financial burdens we will all face as a consequence of what is going on in the world today,” she wrote.

“For other relegated clubs, the financial penalties, while perhaps on a different scale, would be equally devastating to their operations. For this reason, if for no other, we will not give up on seeking an alternative resolution that sees greater fairness for all.”


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