SPFL Myopia Flares into Civil War

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 thoughts on “SPFL Myopia Flares into Civil War

  1. The latest SPFL statement (or is it the start of the next round of lobbying)

    Tuesday, 28 April 2020
    Open Letter To All 42 SPFL Clubs

    Dear Colleagues,

    Following the SPFL, directors written resolution, which was passed with a large majority of SPFL clubs, we now need reconciliation and contrition from all parties if we are to safeguard the future of Scottish football.

    We face huge challenges to ensure we can get the new season up and running on target and safely for all involved, and it is vital that all stakeholders collaborate and engage meaningfully with the Joint Response Group’s task force working groups, pooling our knowledge, experience and resources for the greater good.

    As SPFL directors, we have volunteered our time freely, in uniquely difficult and challenging circumstances and have participated on a fully-functional SPFL Board, which we believe has operated in an entirely fair and even-handed manner. We have each put our own self-interests behind us, to do what is best for Scottish football but have had to endure our professionalism and integrity as well as our compliance with our legal duties to the Company being openly called into question in recent weeks.

    All of the SPFL Board meetings have been conducted in a fair and even manner, with everyone being able to voice their opinion and fully digest the many and varied issues that we have had to consider in forming our decision making.

    In an attempt to reduce its own costs, ultimately for the benefit of all 42-member clubs, the SPFL furloughed several staff and a number of the executives voluntarily took salary cuts. As a result, only an executive team of five remain to administer and manage the on-going business of the organisation as well as planning for the end of the current Season and for Season 2020/21. Their workload has been extremely onerous, managing a huge number of additional tasks – liaising with the SFA, medical officers, the Government, UEFA, other league bodies, our commercial partners and clubs.

    As a consequence, has everything been done perfectly and has it always been fully communicated? Of course it has not, and this is a point we have already raised to ensure the organisation is future- proofed for subsequent boards after we stand down. Indeed, at our request, the SPFL Chairman will be issuing a comprehensive Q&A document within the week, addressing many of the claims or questions that have been put into the public domain. We trust that this will give you, the members whom we have been appointed to represent, the same high level of comfort each of us has in the actions of the SPFL executive team.

    We are unaware of any impropriety or any disregard for appropriate qualities of corporate governance. If Rangers Football Club has a dossier of evidence which shows anything to the contrary, then we would repeat the call for it to be brought forward immediately, because we, as club representative directors, have a clear duty to interrogate any allegations of misconduct or the like which it contains.

    The SPFL Board is dealing with a fast-moving set of circumstances, with a skeleton staff trying hard to prioritise matters. It’s an unenviable job, and we are sure the many fair-minded people in Scottish football fully understand this.

    All of the executive team retain our full support and admiration. Further recrimination and division will only decrease our chances of playing football matches in Scotland any time soon. The players, fans and officials deserve our best collective efforts. At a time when thousands of people in our communities are dying of Covid-19, Scottish football needs to reflect and consider how this looks to the outside world.

    In keeping with SPFL Rules, we will now have a general meeting on 12 May, when clubs will have the chance to either support or reject the resolution requisitioned by Heart of Midlothian, Rangers and Stranraer. We live in a democracy and the SPFL Articles are clear – if 75% of the clubs in the Premiership, as well as 75% of the clubs in the Championship and 75% of the clubs in Leagues One and Two vote that we should spend our executives‘ time on matters other than Seasons 2019/20 & 2020/21, and clubs’ money on lawyers’ fees, then we will. 

    But if the resolution fails to gain the support of enough Members and the requisitioners nonetheless continue on their current course, the cost to our game will be incalculable.

    Yours faithfully,

    Alan Burrows, Motherwell FC
    Les Gray, Hamilton Academical FC Ewen Cameron, Alloa Athletic FC
    Ross McArthur, Dunfermline Athletic FC Ken Ferguson, Brechin City FC
    Peter Davidson, Montrose FC

  2. Not the best statement in the circumstances.

    We are doing the best we can, while although we admit some failings, everyone should just get together and stop the recriminations.

    Aye right.

  3. Last paragraph is the most enlightening.

    Im also intrigued if they thought their inaction in 2012 was “incalculable.” 

    Sorry EJ – To add for “Requisitioners” I read Rangers* in so far as Anne Budge has certainly said publicly that she wasn’t personally aware of impropriety, but was happy to support a club who genuinely felt they did. I therefore assume – which is always dangerous – that if the members vote naw that she will not “pursue her present course.” I cant speak for Stranraer of course!  

  4. Come to think about it,

    perhaps the Internet Bampots are being too harsh on the SFA, the SPFL and the 42 senior clubs, with our unrealistic expectations?

    Back in 2012 everybody and their dug saw how they all totally mismanaged an, arguably, self-inflicted crisis WRT the collapse of Rangers.

    Today we have an externally created crisis for them to manage.  

    Just like in 2012, the Ibrox club is not being helpful whatsoever.

    …and just like in 2012, nobody at Hampden or the clubs seems particularly interested in what the paying punters want…

    It does make you wonder how the professional game has survived this long in Scotland – despite the governing bodies.

  5. Smugas 28th April 2020 at 16:06

    Last paragraph is the most enlightening.

    Im also intrigued if they thought their inaction in 2012 was “incalculable.” 

    Sorry EJ – To add for “Requisitioners” I read Rangers* in so far as Anne Budge has certainly said publicly that she wasn’t personally aware of impropriety, but was happy to support a club who genuinely felt they did. I therefore assume – which is always dangerous – that if the members vote naw that she will not “pursue her present course.” I cant speak for Stranraer of course! 


    Just to correct the highlighted bit. She said that she wasn't personally aware of "bullying".  She did however believe that there were issues with, or abuse of, process that merited further investigation.

  6. Every day we get closer to an unnecessary civil war.

    Every day we see the ugly side of football politics, the hypocrisy and the very short memories people in football and the various hangers-on including the media have.

    I’m minded of two songs that sum it up.

    “It ain’t what you do but the way that you do it” by Sy Oliver and James Trummy Young 


    “The lunatics have taken over the asylum” by Fun Boy Three.


    And to sign off one song by Sam Cooke bearing hope.

    “It’s been a long, a long time coming
    But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will”


    But as I sing the verse in my head I just don’t know whether to believe our clubs either really want change or are capable.




  7. Another Joint Response group statement just issued. Lots of people on lots of committees.


    Rod Petrie :  “We will continue to adhere to the government advice but equally we have an obligation to undertake the necessary preparatory work to ensure the national game is ready to return at the appropriate time.

    “We are also mindful of the crucial role football can play as the national sport during the recovery period and have noted the proposed return of the Premier League in England by the Department of Culture Media and Sport in England ‘to raise the spirit of the nation’.

  8. easyJambo 28th April 2020 at 15:47
    No Stewart Robertson signature on that letter.
    The ibrox club did state that they would show their evidence well in advance of an EGM. That will be any time in the next week to be well in advance.

  9. Easyjambo @ 15.47 and CO @ 17.13

    Thanks for the posts. May I make an admittedly pedantic, but crucial, point about the following extract from the letter?:-

    “… clubs will have a chance to either support or reject the resolution requisition from Heart of Midlothian, Rangers and Stranraer”

    I might be wrong in my assumption that there is no Rangers (admittedly, leaving the SEVCO thingy aside, there has been a The Rangers since 1912). Did the liquidation, and subsequent shenanigans with  5WA not happen? Or are they feart to mention it?

    Next whinge (my favourite word of the day so far – thanks Charlie), and I accept I might just be having an off day here, but is Stuart Robertson not inevitably conflicted by dual Directorship in this whole charade? Is he basically looking to ‘shaft’ an organisation he is part of (by extension of SEVCO’s anti Doncaster, McKenzie and McLennan campaign)

    Finally, it would appear to me that UEFA have just been ‘telt aff’ by Macron (no football in France till September?). Lives come first, and if they, in their greed, don’t get that, then they really are living in  ‘cloud cuckoo land’. They will just have to accept that the politicians and health experts will ultimately decide and , after all:-

    ”A Smith and Wesson beats a full house ” (can’t recall who said that!).


  10. bect67 28th April 2020 at 17:20

    ”A Smith and Wesson beats a full house ” (can’t recall who said that!).


    It's attributed to a Yorkshire born riverboat gambler from the mid 19th century called William "Canada Bill" Jones. He emigrated to Canada in search of a fortune which he made, and lost, working on boats in the USA.

    Among his attributed quotes are:

    • "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money"
    • "A Smith and Wesson beats four aces"
    • "No, son, you lose. 'Cause this is a Smith & Wesson I'm holdin' here."
    • "Nobody ever went bowlegged carrying away the money they won from me."
    • "Tie? You want me to wear a tie?"
    • "Yeah, but it's the only game in town!" 


  11. StevieBC28th April 2020 at 13:25






    Rate This


    StevieBC 13.25

    With all these references to the Bard

    The currently very appropriate 

    “ a plague on both their houses” seems apt. 


  12. I don't suppose it would be worth even trying to find whether there's a freephone number!

    "Court of Session Rolls

    Friday 1st May

    Preliminary Hearing

    CA9/20 David Whitehouse v the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland


    CA10/20 Paul Clark v the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland &c   "


  13. John Clark 28th April 2020 at 18:56

    I don’t suppose it would be worth even trying to find whether there’s a freephone number!


    Probably not.

    I note that new case numbers have been allocated.  I don’t know why that would be required.

    I would’t imagine that there will be anything of great interest in the cases until the proof hearing is scheduled.

  14. Jingso.Jimsie 28th April 2020 at 19:34
    TRFC is desperate to crash the bus & to do it now. Why? That’s the question for me. What’s so rank-rotten at Ibrox that someone thinks the way out from under is to attempt to destroy the SPFL & its board?
    Maybe they were told to do one in their application for a european licence, it’s the only thing i can come up with, the second placed prize money was never going to keep the lights on,so why the hissy fit? they were never going to win the league, so why the hissy fit?
    They have went in some mood about something.

  15. Tom English demanding that Murdoch Maclennan puts himself in front of a group of journalists. Presumably so they can all ask him if he’s a Celtic fan who can’t stand Rangers. There is no way Maclennan would be given a fair hearing. Their mind is made up.

  16. highlander at 12 ish


    Just logged on for today. Absolutely spot on. 

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19.  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……..

  20. Highlander 28th April 2020


    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.



  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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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