Stephen Halliday: Unfair to criticise SPL in Hearts wages saga

NO-ONE ever became a football administrator in order to try and attain a level of popularity.

NO-ONE ever became a football administrator in order to try and attain a level of popularity.

While criticism from all quarters is simply an inevitable part of the job, SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster is entitled to feel a degree of bemusement at some of the irrational reaction over the past few days to his organisation’s involvement in Hearts’ repeated failure to pay their players on time.

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When it first emerged that the Tynecastle club were late with the salaries in October and November, there was widespread condemnation of the SPL’s perceived unwillingness to take action. They were accused of standing idly by while the Hearts players experienced a circumstance which no employee in any line of work would be happy to accept.

Those criticising the SPL did so in ignorance of the fact Doncaster and his fellow board members were powerless to become involved in the issue until they received a formal complaint from the players concerned.

As soon as they finally received a protest via PFA Scotland on behalf of 14 of Hearts’ first-team squad in December, the SPL convened the hearing which ordered the club to rectify the situation on several counts.

Included among the directives was the prompt payment of the players on 16 January.

Whether Hearts missed that deadline by several hours or several days is irrelevant. The fact is that many of their players could not, yet again, access their wages last week on the day they should have done.

However, the SPL, having previously been accused of not taking the issue of unpaid wages seriously enough, suddenly found themselves labelled as unreasonable and vindictive for charging Hearts with a breach of their rules which will be subject to a further hearing.

The likelihood of a points deduction being the punishment handed out to Hearts is remote. A censure or small fine is the more likely outcome.

Whatever Doncaster and his colleagues decide, however, it should be remembered that Vladimir Romanov is the only one guilty of unacceptable conduct in this instance.

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