by Neil Down / Ann Weep
We have held back on doing an Untold report on Scottish football despite frantic emails from Tony asking for a piece which clarifies what the F*** (to use the technical term) is going on, simply because despite being the designated news feeders to Untold for football in Scotland, we actually have no idea.
At least no idea in any sense that ideas expressed here are supposed to mean something and be vaguely logical.
But after frantic pleas from the peaceful English east midlands, we have bowed to pressure to write up the story. If you are not familiar with this, it will read like a fantasy. One of the Billy “the dog” tales from the psychiatric hospital of the North Circular Road perhaps. But it’s real.
If, on reading this, you can correct some of the details please do, but please with evidence not assertion. Simply blaming everyone else won’t really help those of us who don’t understand to learn the truth.
And before we get going – here (as they say) is the thing. The Scottish League is a part of European Football. OK, we’ve not had stories quite as weird as this emanating from anywhere else, but that does not mean to say Scotland is in chaos but everywhere else is ok. Far from it in fact. There is no sense of a unified direction, solution, resolution, or anything else ending in -ion coming from much of Europe. Sponsors are withdrawing, TV companies are demanding cashback, season ticket holders want refunds, players want paying… And football, by not putting sufficient funds aside for an emergency, is collapsing.
So here we go…
The Scottish Premier League put forward a proposal to end the season, taking the tables as they stood when football was suspended, as the final table.
As you can see it was a close-run thing. Anyone could end up anywhere.
So the leagues asked the clubs to vote on this proposal that would bring the season to an end and clear the decks ready for a new season, whenever that could be started. The prize money could be handed out and everyone would know where they were going to play next season.
To get this vote through 75% of clubs in the Premiership, Championship and Leagues 1 and 2 combined needed to vote in favour of an idea that involved promotions, but no relegations.
However, Dundee’s vote was missing. Dundee, a Championship team, then issued a statement saying that if the executive did receive a vote from Dundee they should ignore it. They did, however, say, “No member club should be worse off as a result of this proposal than they are today. The current proposal will see member clubs cumulatively have in the region of £3.5m-4m lost revenue.”
Shall we pause while you sit down?
At the point of that statement being issued no vote had been received. But although the voting was not complete, since the deadline for voting had not been reached the Scottish Premier League issued the result with 85% of votes cast.
As things stood at that point, one more vote (which could, of course, be Dundee’s) would decide on the acceptance or rejection of the resolution.
Next the Inverness chief executive stated he and other administrators of Championship clubs were sent a copy of a Dundee’s vote against the proposals on Friday afternoon and that Dundee then issued a message saying “DFC vote submitted.”
The Premier League said they had not received the vote. It might have been put in the wrong letterbox.
Rangers then called for the chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, Neil Doncaster, to be suspended and an investigation held. They said,
“We have been presented with evidence via a whistleblower that raises serious concerns surrounding the SPFL’s processes … We believe it is in the interests of all Scottish clubs and supporters that the evidence, which is alarming, be addressed as quickly as possible.”
Their chairman did not present the evidence but added, “The farcical conduct of this affair seems to me to bring the corporate governance and business operations of the SPFL into sharp focus. Other member clubs, who have seen the evidence we hold, share our concerns. We call for the suspension of the SPFL’s chief executive, Neil Doncaster and its legal adviser, Rod McKenzie, while an independent investigation is conducted.”
Then the SPFL’s chairman, Murdoch MacLennan, said: “I would expect Douglas Park to present compelling evidence to back up his claims, or to withdraw them.” (Douglas Park was Hamilton’s football ground until 1994. But that seems irrelevant. For Douglas Park is also a millionaire businessman, one of three men who rescued Rangers in 2015 and then, immediately after his company was reinstated as the club’s official bus provider resigned from the board.)
The prospect of an expanded, 14-team top flight in Scotland next season (there being no relegation in the new proposal) is now possible although not yet, because Uefa has asked member associations not to abandon leagues before 23 April.
The clubs want the season ended because that way they can get their funding from the league for their final placings, and they are all getting a bit short of the readies.
So next season might see 14 teams in the top league in Scotland, meaning Hearts would not go down, Inverness and Dundee United would be promoted to the Premiership, Partick Thistle would remain in the second tier and Falkirk would join Raith Rovers in advancing from League 1.
There’s nothing being said about how League 2, which on this model would be short of clubs, would make up its number, but it could promote clubs from the Highland and Lowland Leagues. Mind you, seeing how the top four leagues actually run their affairs the clubs in the Highland and Lowland Leagues might prefer to stay where they are.
Of course, nothing like this could happen in England. It would be rather like a top London Premier League team announcing that all its lower-paid staff would be put on furlough and paid by the government, while their chief executive retained his mega salary and his mega plus bonuses for delivering their new stadium nine months late.
And then changing their minds.
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