SPFL Myopia Flares into Civil War

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The Covid 19 Pandemic is a truly serious game-changing situation for us all.
We are all currently staring into a future with no declared road map exit of
how we might move back to normality and the certainty of disruption now and
long into the future.

Against the background of lockdown to curb the virus spread we have all run smack bang into economic and social chaos.
We have gone from normality into unheard of times virtually overnight and with horrendous economic consequences coming every which way into the future.

Football is not important in the greater scheme of things but still has issues that need attention and urgently because it affects people’s lives.

 This Week’s SPFL Plan to Move On

The SPFL are simply the members association who run our leagues on a “for the members, by the members, for the members” kind of way in theory.

For reasons known to them they collectively took the decision to start to draw an end to season 2019 – 2020 with its Covid 19 uncertainty.
This was probably to allow them and all their members (our clubs) to at least
start to plan for the future when income streams will return.

From speaking to those involved from the club side and reading and hearing more at a truly astonishing pace since Wednesday 8th of April, just 3 day ago, the SPFL decided in their wisdom that the best solution was to conflate two particular issues. 

To back their case quite forcibly they also provided a dossier of over 100 pages of supportive material.  All good bedtime reading for our club’s boards I have been told, but i haven’t seen it.

The issues the SPFL decided to conflate were to ‘pro-rata’ all games played so far this season so they could equalise and close the Championship and Leagues 1 and 2, with the Premiership going the same way if it became clear that fixtures could not be completed.

If and only if the motion was agreed by the members then the end of season prize money would be forthcoming from the SPFL bank almost immediately.

Money desperately needed by some members. A real lifeline in troubled times.

There was also another possible wee carrot dangled.

This might have been of a sort of half-hearted agreement to look at re-organisation of Scottish Football. This because despite the dossier urging clubs to vote yes, the SPFL knew some clubs would not be happy with their proposals and would not agree.

 In the Real World of Challenged and Stressed Football Clubs

 The SPFL conflation of “do this or no money” meant things like.

The title would be handed to Celtic eventually if Premier Clubs then followed suit, despite Rangers having a mathematical, albeit statistically unlikely, chance of catching their rivals.

Hearts would be relegated despite having enough games to catch their nearest rivals and stay safe possibly by a play off (if they hadn’t already been cancelled).

Partick Thistle would be relegated because they failed to play one league game while playing another SPFL competition and also had a bunch of games left to save themselves.

Stranraer would go down despite being proven late season successful relegation fighters.

Brora (declared Highland Champions) and Kelty (current leaders in Lowland League, by a bawhair over Bonnyrigg) would have no play off with a likely game against Brechin or whoever was going to be bottom of the SPFL2 league.

And these are just the tip of what football chiefs I’ve spoken with have termed an ill-considered iceberg of matters arising from a hapless attempt to bring some certainty to the SPFL membership. 

72 Hours of Mayhem as Peter was Played Against Paul

People are interconnected today and from the moment clubs were pushed into a corner they discussed it together and in depth.
They all know who voted how why and when and have WhatsApp records too.

They all feel they could have done it better. I can’t try to sum up the sheer enormity and quantity of what has happened since Wednesday night but after I had penned a piece for SFM on Friday with suggestions that there was a civil war brewing that is just indeed what happened.

Every club effectively had a moral and economic choice and sometimes they were conflicting.

Friday was too close to call

I was in a few communication loops sitting at home on Friday afternoon as the vote unfolded.

I had been warned how close it was going to be and it was fascinating with first Inverness seen as the potentially key vote then an acceptance just before 5 that the whole thing had failed.
Then, 5.30ish, a different and quite hopeful view came out that after the vote had been seen to have failed that a 14, 14, 14, compromised was likely. Sense seemed to be prevailing. Then later and very late in the day a view that 1 vote (Dundee) had still to come and was in effect now the casting vote with all the power that casting votes carry.

Since then we have first seen Dundee castigated in the press and by unthinking media pundits as the villains for holding everything up.

(But that’s now old news).

Today (Sat 11th April), ICT Chief Executive Scott Gardiner was on BBC Sportsound alongside Richard Gordon, Michael Stewart Tom English, Kenny Miller and later on Willie Miller. It wasn’t a normal filler show in a period with no football.

It was truly amazing with some hard facts and honest insights. Uncommonly so. 
I should have been forewarned after one well know football finance insider had tweeted last night (Fri) ahead of the curve that “Dundee will have earned some concession and will now change their vote” or words to that effect.

Wow he was ahead of the tsunami that burst this afternoon. If you haven’t heard BBC Sportsound at 2 pm today then the first hour or so is unmissable.

Since then matters have gone on apace we have now heard that Douglas Park, interim Chairman of Rangers, wants the SPFL CEO Neil Doncaster and legal counsel Rod Mackenzie (Rangers links) to stand down ahead of an independent inquiry.

So less than a day after a yet to be agreed vote outcome and genuine internecine war is brewing and exploding with Mr Parks claiming he has damning information from a whistleblower.

In turn he has been asked by the current SPFL Chairman Murdoch MacLennan to substantiate his “very serious accusations”. .

So Who Scored the Own Goal and What Can We Do About It?

As of now I actually don’t care who did what and when.
Stuff has happened and in the fullness of time we can look at how it happened and what we can do to avoid it into the future.
Today we need to move forward and that needs leadership.

Here is a 5 point roadmap.

Ditch this divisive plan
It doesn’t matter how Dundee vote just consign all this crap to history.
Pay all the monies due
This week no strings and if that needs a vote then vote on that and that alone.
Agree what happens and how to end the season
Scottish Football Supporters Association say this must include no relegation and pyramid winners should be included. Don’t penalise anyone at this time.
And an interim plan would be fine of three leagues like nearly got agreed for 20 minutes on Friday.
Take time
End the season properly and fairly and plan for the future to reinvigorate our game for the greater good. The world has changed but we haven’t.
Involve all stakeholders especially the fans 
This should all be on the record and transparent. 

The Time To Stop The War is Now 

851 COMMENTS

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  1. highlander at 12 ish

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    Just logged on for today. Absolutely spot on. 

  2. St Mirren statement.

    As a club St Mirren has given its full backing to the SPFL’s plans to terminate the 2019/20 season in the Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2.

    UEFA have now paved the way for the unfinished Premiership season to be called without the remaining games being played.

    European football’s ruling body have given acceptable reasons for ending the season prematurely, as:

    • Existence of an official order prohibiting sports events so that the domestic competitions cannot be completed before a date that would make it possible to complete the current season in good time before the next season starts.
    • Insurmountable economic problems which make finishing the season impossible because it would put at risk the long-term financial stability of the domestic competition and/or clubs.

    We believe these are highly sensible conditions as it has become increasingly likely that, firstly, no football will played until next season due to lockdown and social distancing and, secondly, that clubs across Scotland need to receive their end of season fee payments as quickly as possible or suffer serious financial problems.

    We appreciate that, in line with SPFL rules, there will now be an EGM on May 12th to discuss the allegations regarding the previous vote on the resolution to end the season.

    However, St Mirren’s view is that the safety of the supporters and the survival of Scottish football clubs must be the priority and therefore it is our opinion that the Premiership season should be terminated immediately. This will allow for end of season payments to be made and for clubs to start to plan as best they can for next season.

  3. Re my own earlier post @ 17.20.

    Just realised that I typed " … there has been The Rangers since 1912".

    Meant, of course, to put 2012!

    Whit a diddy!!

    Sorry BP

  4.  After losing millions of pounds and their own credibility , after re-writing history to erase the death certificate ,after gambling every last penny with a rookie manager they now lie in tatters . Going for 55 is never going to happen , 10 in a row is an odds on formality , all that is left are tantrums and tears . In 2012 they died from chasing the Lions , in 2020 they will die from trying to stop the ten . What can they hope to gain from this faux complaint that merely delays not just the awarding of a title but much needed prize money that goes with it. Are they hoping to plunge other clubs into administration as cover for their own extravagances ? If so , and I believe they are vindictive enough to do so then they have no place within our sport. It remains to be seen if a deal has already been hatched between Blazers and a Third Rangers* but I believe if that is the case then we have gone full Banana Republic. Not long now……..

  5. Highlander 28th April 2020

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    I won't disagree with the thrust of your argument, on the basis of "play the ball not the man" and I would welcome an independent inquiry in principle. I would need more details on it's scope, remit and who was doing it before that support was unequivocal, or anything like it. However as I said I would have no issue with there being such an inquiry, and I am one of the people who don't really understand what the big fuss is about. Once I see all of this evidence (rather than rumour hearsay and gossip) I may understand it better. Incompetent and ham fisted, yes agreed. Corrupt, again I will need to see this evidence. 

    However to suggest that what happened in 2012, in the run up to it and afterwards was not illegal simply isn't true. Tax avoidance may not be a criminal offence but it is certainly not legal. If people are caught doing it they are subject to penalties. You cannot penalise something which is legal, that makes no sense. 

    The highest Courts in Scotland and the UK have ruled on this.

     

     

  6. Am I doing something wrong?  Recently I can't open any links to Twitter from posters.  It just hangs up.  Any suggestions would be most welcome.

  7. Rangers Inquiry could be Thwarted by Proxy Vote screams the Record.

    They still haven’t quite grasped how this whole “democracy” thing works have they.  Or are some votes more equal than others – to continue the literary theme.

  8. I see it suggested this morning that the Rangers resolution could be blown out the water before the meeting even takes place, if clubs use proxy votes in advance. I am sure they know this though, and will be quite happy to leave it at the 'no smoke without fire' position being loudly championed by their media acolytes. 

    None of this comes as a surprise to me. I have been deemed paranoid my entire life for believing the Scottish Sports Media are pro-Rangers, however in my opinion if people can't see that they are, especially given everything that has happened since 2012, then I really couldn't care about the adjective thrown at me, which in my opinion is only because the people saying it can't contribute to a debate. 

    The conduct of the BBC in particular is a real cause for concern. If any media organisation should be able to rise above tribal bias in Scottish football it is them. Their 'Chief Sports Writer' Tom English has been handed their airwaves and their website to present a completely subjective view on current matters. Not once has he even questioned the motives behind Rangers behaviour, or the tactics they are using.  Yet why is a man professing such a thirst for honesty and transparency so selective at what he gets angry about? There have been huge scandals since 2012 that neither Tom or any of his BBC peers have demanded action on, and in fact have backed Rangers and the authorities. When the Supreme Court confirmed the illegality of Rangers tax affairs one of the first things BBC did was invite ex-Rangers player, Rangers fan, and ex-SFA President Gordon Smith on the show, to defend the illegal tax affairs as 'the league title was competitive' when they were in use. Only last Saturday a DUP MP, was allowed on the show, again to back Rangers, and was treated with kid gloves. I have seen the replies BBC are sending to people on this matter, and there seems no shame whatsoever that they allowed such a man on. I could go on and on about their behaviour, but what's the point, because I am just paranoid and none of this actually happened. I must also have imagined that the only people who can't be criticised on their shows without them being present to defend themselves are people from Rangers. Anyone else from any other club, or from the SPFL, is absolute fair game. 

     

     

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