Doncaster calls for unity as failure of reconstruction talks sparks fury
Neil Doncaster has urged Scotland’s clubs to work together to get through the coronavirus pandemic after the collapse of reconstruction talks sparked anger and recriminations.
Falkirk claimed Scottish football had become an “utter shambles”, Partick Thistle called Premiership clubs “thoughtless and selfish” and Hearts accused their rivals of “appalling disrespect” after a number of top-flight clubs decided to block any plans for reforming the leagues.
In a statement yesterday, Inverness, who will be denied promotion after finishing as Championship runners-up, claimed the reconstruction talks had been “set up to fail” in a lengthy statement which called it a “disingenuous, incompetent shambles”.
Partick’s relegation to League 1 now looks certain, while Falkirk will be denied promotion after finishing a point behind Raith Rovers when the pandemic stopped play. Hearts will be relegated if the Premiership is called in the same way as the lower leagues.
Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland: “This is a passionate game and clearly when football is not being played and businesses in general are under massive pressure, you can expect passionate comments to be made. I think it’s unfortunate because passionate claims don’t help the cause. We are trying to work together for the benefit of 42 clubs and get the game back up and running as soon as possible.
“The more we have criticism and infighting, the more difficult that is because instead of working on a plan to get games back up and running, me and my team are appearing on programmes like this trying to defend rather than getting on the front foot and getting games back on as soon as possible.
“You have got to remember
“We’re trying to work together for the benefit of 42 clubs and get the game back up and running. The more we have criticism and infighting, the more difficult that is”
we are a sporting competition and every year you get champion clubs and clubs who are relegated. Clearly nobody expected a line would have to be drawn under the lower-league season at this stage because of the Covid-19 crisis but we have to deal with the consequences. You could go down the road of voiding the season but how would the likes of Dundee United feel about that? And that’s aside from the legal ramifications.
“Ultimately in a sporting competition you have to have a pragmatic way forward.”
Doncaster was speaking before Inverness joined the complaints with a scathing statement which said the collapse of the talks was as “inevitable as it was depressing”.
“The incredible numbers co-opted on to the group at the outset was one of the reasons why we believed, perhaps understandably cynically, that it was being set up to fail from the very beginning and nothing we heard from our colleagues did anything to really dilute that opinion,” the statement said.
“When people you respect openly state shortly after the process started that they believe they are wasting their time and predict what they think will happen and ultimately did happen, it was hard not to share their disillusion.”
Doncaster stressed the league set-up was a decision for the clubs. “You probably need 11 votes out of 12 in the Premiership and 75 per cent in the other leagues, so it was always going to be a difficult challenge,” he added.
“I was told from the Premiership meeting on Friday that whilst there was a genuine sympathy for the idea of reconstruction talks progressing, the view was that now wasn’t the time.
“I do think there remains an open-mindedness to look at reconstruction.”
Hearts have threatened a formal challenge if they are consigned to the drop and Doncaster responded: “Clubs must do what they feel is right for themselves but ultimately legal action against the league is legal action against the clubs.”