Stewart Gilmour defends league reconstruction veto

St Mirren's chairman Stewart Gilmour, one of two who voted against the proposals, arrives at Hampden today. Picture: SNS
St Mirren's chairman Stewart Gilmour, one of two who voted against the proposals, arrives at Hampden today. Picture: SNS
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ST MIRREN have responded defiantly to criticism from fellow Scottish Premier League clubs of their decision to vote against the 12-12-18 league reconstruction proposals.

The Paisley club’s chairman Stewart Gilmour, who joined Ross County’s Roy MacGregor in vetoing the contentious plan at Hampden on Monday, bore the brunt of an angry reaction by several SPL colleagues.

Henry McLeish: Open letter. Picture: SNS

Henry McLeish: Open letter. Picture: SNS

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne was especially scathing of Gilmour, going so far as to accuse him of putting self-interest ahead of the greater good of Scottish football. But St Mirren hit back yesterday in a firmly worded statement which disputed the version of events painted by Milne and others. They stressed that their opposition to the retention of an 11-1 voting system on protected matters was not their only objection to the plan, repeating their shared opposition with Ross County to the actual league format which would have included a split after 22 matches of the season into three divisions of eight clubs.

St Mirren also explained their refusal to back down after a last-ditch amendment was tabled by Aberdeen and Celtic, offering to change to a 9-3 voting system for any subsequent league restructuring. The League Cup holders say that amendment should have also applied to other protected matters, including financial distribution.

“St Mirren FC is extremely disappointed by the comments of certain clubs’ representatives and some journalists towards our club and seeks to clarify our position,” read the statement.

“We made it perfectly clear in our statement issued last week that we were against the league structure proposed and also that of the proposed 11-1 voting system. It would appear that certain individuals have tried to move this round to being only an objection to the voting structure. Both of these items were our primary issues with the proposals.

“The following resolutions are described as Qualified Resolutions in the proposed rules and require an 11-1 vote to change:

• Retaining home gate receipts.

• League restructuring.

• Distribution of finance.

• Squad size.

• Under 21 rules.

• Season start date.

• Number of home live TV games.

• Salary capping.

“You will probably be aware that, during the meeting, a proposal to change one of these Resolutions, namely League Restructuring, was brought to the table by two clubs who suggested reducing this to a 75 per cent majority, ie 9-3.

“As this was only part of the Qualified Resolutions this was not acceptable to St Mirren. The items in this section require to be changed completely to a 9-3 level of voting, excepting the retention of home gate receipts which would be totally unfair to the larger clubs. We are also happy to contract that no club shall have more live home TV matches than anyone else.

“This democratic set-up in the SPL is one that has been in place since its inception and has proved not to be fit for purpose, hence our objection to it. It is ironic that this is what has stopped the proposal going forward. However, clubs have the right to vote as they see fit and directors have a legal responsibility to look after the interests of their club, a criticism that appears to be directed towards St Mirren. It should be highlighted that Aberdeen could have indeed changed this voting structure last year had they seen fit to vote with their fellow clubs. That is their decision and we respect that. However, before being critical of others they should possibly take stock of their previous decision.

“While on the subject of criticism, we find it hard to accept other football clubs telling us how to vote on football matters, or indeed questioning our motives. It is the right of all clubs to make their own decisions and other clubs should respect this.

“We are being accused of self interest. Is that the self interest in consulting with our supporters and staff prior to the board making this decision? If so, we are guilty. We are very grateful for all the messages of support we have received not just from our own fans but also from supporters of many other clubs who did not wish this proposal to go ahead. We firmly believe in our heart and in our head that this is the correct decision.

“St Mirren Football Club are still intent on change in Scottish football within a system for all 42 clubs. We wish to make it very clear that we have no SPL2 agenda. We believe that that is not the way forward.

“At the start of yesterday’s meeting, we asked clubs to consider revisiting the proposal before the meeting. Our suggestion was that we looked at the following compromise:

• One League Body.

• All Through Financial Distribution Model.

• Introducing a Play-Off Place.

• A Voting Structure of 75 per cent of the Top League Clubs having to agree (subject to an agreement re home gates and the number of home live TV matches).

“Some clubs were willing to discuss this and, hopefully, come to a compromise. Regrettably, this was rejected by a majority of clubs who wished to only stick to the all-or-nothing proposal.

“There have been suggestions of influence on our Board by other clubs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Finally, St Mirren FC hope that all 42 clubs can get round the table in the very near future to progress the formation of one league body and the all through financial distribution model as the first steps to finding the best league format to encompass the views of clubs, supporters, sponsors and all other people involved in Scottish football.”

The reference to “influence” on their decision was a response to internet rumours that Gilmour’s decision was connected to a recent visit to St Mirren Park by Rangers chief executive Charles Green. The Ibrox club were also opposed to the 12-12-18 plan but Gilmour has threatened legal action against anyone who makes such a claim.

“These rumours sound like a conspiracy theory,” said Gilmour. “Any club official who would suggest such a thing, we would look at it legally because it is absolutely slanderous.

“The St Mirren board are only interested in what is in the best interests of St Mirren Football Club and that will always be the case. It’s ridiculous. This is a club that voted Rangers into Division Three, voted a director off our board because of alleged links to Rangers.

“We are also a supporter of a 42-team solution for Scottish football, not an SPL2, and that would therefore have no short-cut for Rangers back to the top flight.

“I would add that Charles Green did attend a game at St Mirren Park but, like any director, chairman or manager from any football club, when they make a request for tickets by email, they are shown the same hospitality by the club as any other representative.

“During Mr Green’s visit, there was no discussion about league reconstruction.”