SPFL to hold emergency meeting that could shape futures of clubs like Hearts and Partick Thistle
The Scottish Professional Football League will hold an emergency board meeting today in a bid to resolve the impasse holding up £9.3 million of payments to its 42 member clubs.
The video conference of the ten-person SPFL board will address multiple issues raised by the acrimonious fall-out from last Friday’s chaotic vote on their resolution to end the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The ballot narrowly failed to achieve the level of agreement required across all four divisions of the SPFL to pass the resolution, with confusion and controversy surrounding the initially submitted ‘No’ vote from Dundee which the Dens Park club are now believed to be reconsidering.
The SPFL plan, if passed, would result in the Championship, League 1 and League 2 all finalised on the basis of the league tables when football was suspended because of Covid-19 last month. It would also give the SPFL authority to similarly call time on the Premiership, should completing the campaign at a later date be ruled unfeasible.
Rangers, who are 13 points behind Celtic at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand, proposed an alternative resolution which they said would allow the SPFL to advance the end-of-season payments to clubs in the form of loans without declaring final league positions.
The resolution was declared “not effective” by the SPFL on legal advice, prompting an angry reaction from the Ibrox club who raised claims of attempts to “coerce and bully” other clubs into supporting the SPFL’s resolution.
Rangers have also called for the suspension of both the SPFL’s chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal counsel Rod McKenzie, along with an independent investigation into the voting process, citing evidence from a “whistleblower”.
SPFL chairman Murdoch McLennan responded to the Rangers statement by requesting that their interim chairman Douglas Park should forward the evidence or withdraw the allegations.
Hearts owner Ann Budge, whose club would be relegated to the Championship if the SPFL resolution was passed, backed up Rangers’ stance when she claimed the manner in which the resolution was presented constituted an attempt by the governing body to “unduly influence” members to vote for it.
Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, one of the three Premiership representatives on the SPFL board, is expected to reiterate his club’s strong opposition to the resolution as it stands during today’s meeting.
Along with Rangers and Hearts, other clubs to vote against the resolution were Partick Thistle (who would be relegated to League 1) - Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Falkirk, East Fife, Stranraer (who would be relegated to League 2) and Edinburgh City.
Some clubs are keen to push the idea of league reconstruction for the 2020-21 season as a bargaining chip to push through the SPFL resolution but it remains doubtful whether there is sufficient support for that idea.