The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

MORESUFFER­INGTOCOME

- DANNYLAW Sports · Soccer · Scottish Premier League · Soccer Business · Scottish Professional Football League · The Football League · Aberdeen F.C. · Hibernians F.C. · Dundee · Championship · Bristol Rovers F.C. · League Two · Partick Thistle F.C. · Dundee United F.C. · Raith Rovers F.C. · Heart of Midlothian F.C. · Stranraer

WAR­ZONE: Em­bat­tled clubs have fought among them­selves since the Scot­tish sea­sons were called off – le­gal ac­tion from Hearts and Partick This­tle is just the lat­est episode of the sorry af­fair

Just more than a hun­dred days have passed since the worst health cri­sis in liv­ing mem­ory forced the sus­pen­sion of Scot­tish foot­ball.

Since that de­ci­sion on March 13, the Scot­tish Pro­fes­sional Foot­ball League has ap­peared in­tent on rip­ping it­self apart.

The pan­demic has im­pacted ev­ery busi­ness in the coun­try and Scot­tish foot­ball is no ex­cep­tion.

Fur­ther ev­i­dence of the fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing Scot­tish clubs emerged in re­cent days.

Aberdeen have en­tered into dis­cus­sions with play­ers and man­age­ment over wage cuts with chair­man Dave Cor­mack pre­dict­ing the cri­sis to cost the club £10 mil­lion.

Hiber­nian have be­gun a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod over wage cuts, po­ten­tial jobs losses and whether they will be able to main­tain their youth academy.

Dundee’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor John Nelms ad­mit­ted his club are fac­ing some tough choices as they wait for a trun­cated Cham­pi­onship sea­son to be­gin in Oc­to­ber.

At this pe­riod in time more than ever, Scot­tish foot­ball needed its clubs to unite and work to­gether for the greater good to en­sure all 42 mem­ber clubs sur­vive this un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion.

In­stead, the game ap­pears more di­vided than ever with the gloomy prospect of a court­room bat­tle to de­ter­mine the fates of Hearts and Partick This­tle on the hori­zon.

Last Mon­day’s in­dica­tive vote on a per­ma­nent change to a 14-10-10-10 struc­ture ap­peared to be the last throw of the re­con­struc­tion dice but only 16 of the 42 clubs chose to sup­port the mo­tion.

Hearts and Partick feel they have been harshly treated to suf­fer rel­e­ga­tion fol­low­ing an in­com­plete sea­son and most ob­servers will be sym­pa­thetic to their plight, par­tic­u­larly This­tle, who were two points adrift with a game in hand.

But the two clubs aren’t go­ing down with­out a fight and opted for the nu­clear op­tion by lodg­ing a pe­ti­tion with the Court of Ses­sion.

“Hearts and Partick feel they have been harshly treated to be rel­e­gated”

This was, in some ways, a sur­pris­ing move given that Hearts owner Ann Budge had in­sisted in April that her club would ac­cept rel­e­ga­tion “if that is what the com­mu­nity of foot­ball clubs be­lieve is right”.

Partick have also made a U-turn on their stance, hav­ing ini­tially said they would not take the mat­ter to court if they were rel­e­gated.

But their de­ci­sion to serve le­gal pa­pers to the three ti­tle-win­ners – Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers – in a bid to scrap pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It has also plunged those three clubs into un­cer­tainty.

Hearts and Partick This­tle are seek­ing £10m com­pen­sa­tion and the best-case sce­nario may be for the SPFL clubs to agree en­hanced para­chute pay­ments to mit­i­gate the fi­nan­cial dam­age suf­fered by the Jam­bos and Jags as well as Stran­raer, who were de­moted to League 2.

The worst-case sce­nario? It doesn’t bear think­ing about.

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