‘Something’s brewing’ – Eagerly anticipated SPFL board meeting is called off

Powerbrokers to reconvene on Wednesday

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, right.

An SPFL board meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday will now take place on Wednesday morning as Scottish football seeks to find a path through a multitude of imponderables.

The conference call between the nine board members has been eagerly anticipated since it could potentially lead to Celtic being awarded the Premiership title if they decide to “call” the season now.

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This scenario, believed to be favoured by the SPFL board, has recently looked less likely due to a statement jointly signed by Uefa, European Leagues and the European Club Association late last week which threatened to bar clubs from European competitions if their relevant league had not at least attempted to complete the season.

The setting out of this firm position was in response to the Belgian Jupiler Pro League deciding to award Clubbe Brugge the league championship title on account of them being league leaders when the season was shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Individual league meetings for each of the four senior divisions in Scotland will follow the board meeting.

One club chairman suspected the rescheduling was an attempt to limit the likelihood of information leaking out.

“It sounds like they are wanting everything done in one day – which suggests they are going to announce something tomorrow,” he said. “It sounds like something is brewing.”

The delay also means discussions can take on board a statement from Fifa providing a set of guidelines that the game’s governing body “hopes and expects” are followed around the world.

The recommendations sought to address many of the legal consequences of the current shutdown.

Several points, including extending players’ contracts until such time as the season actually ends, appear to apply only to the elite end of the game. They do not seem realistic at lower levels where clubs tend to operate on the basis of one-year contracts.

Extending what could be as many as 20 contracts even for just a few months would not be financially viable unless through the government furloughing scheme, in which case the players would not be permitted to play.

“Expiring player contracts usually end when the season ends, with a termination date that coincides with the end of the season,” noted yesterday’s statement following a meeting of the FIFA council. “With the current suspension of play in most countries, it is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would.

“Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end. This should be in line with the original intention of the parties when the contract was signed and should also preserve sporting integrity and stability.”

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said that while the guidelines “will not solve each and every problem, it should serve to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football for the foreseeable future”.

He urged national associations and leagues to adopt a “spirit of compromise” under the leadership of Fifa.

Players’ contracts due to come into force before the next campaign would be “delayed until the next season actually does start”.

The governing body also confirmed it would move forthcoming transfer windows to take into account the shift in scheduling required.

The summer window will be put back beyond the end of August and inserted between this season and whenever the new one starts.

“Fifa will be flexible and will allow the relevant transfer windows to be moved so they fall between the end of the old season and the start of the new season,” the statement said.

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