The Scotsman

We were bullied... and we’ll testify to that say Inverness

● Club contradict Doncaster claim in statement lambasting SPFL

- By ALAN PATTULLO

Inverness Caledonian Thistle have contradict­ed a claim by Scottish Profession­al Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster that no club had made allegation­s of bullying over the key vote which saw the three divisions below the Premiershi­p curtailed.

The Championsh­ip club claim they and at least one other club reported instances of “bullying and threats” by a member of the SPFL board on the day they occurred – Friday 10 April.

In an interview yesterday Doncaster, pictured, strenuousl­y denied that bullying by SPFL board members had ever taken place. He challenged clubs with evidence of such behaviour to make a formal complaint. The chief executive admitted there were “robust exchanges” between clubs prior to the SPFL ballot to curtail the season last month.

“That’s what happens when you have got these rough, tough business people in the game,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme. “There are no shrinking violets.”

Inverness released a lengthy statement shortly after Doncaster’s appearance insisting they and at least one other club – understood to be Dundee – already have submitted complaints.

“Without going into the specifics at this time, please know that we will testify to the bullying and threats made against our club on Friday 10th by an SPFL Board member and the threats against others by the same SPFL Board member,” the statement – co-signed by chief executive Scot Gardiner and chairman Ross Morrison – said.

“These threats were “reported back to the centre” and to the SPFL CEO directly on the day with evidence,” the statement continued.

“These were threats and not robust conversati­ons.”

Doncaster had earlier stressed that “no club has reported bullying to me and as far as I’m aware to [chairman] Murdoch Maclennan either”. He added: “Clearly

there are robust exchanges between clubs. We were aware particular­ly in the Championsh­ip that these robust conversati­ons were ongoing but nobody reported any bullying to me.”

Describing the ballot to curtail the season as a “disingenuo­us, incompeten­t shambles”, Inverness rounded on Doncaster and Maclennan for claiming clubs who did not vote yes were further harming Scottish football amid a grave crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Appallingl­y, the SPFL Chairman and the SPFL CEO have also used their office to attack SPFL member clubs who did not agree with arguably the most important resolution in the history of the SPFL and its utterly botched aftermath and they have deliberate­ly and shockingly chosen to do so in public,” said the statement.

“And in what looked suspicious­ly like a co-ordinated attack, all the while calling for unity and solidarity!? It is also bemusing to hear them so publicly state they are unaware of any threats or bullying during the period of the 9th or 10th of April when the CEO knows what happened as it was reported to him and they continue to accuse anyone who spoke out against this take it or leave it offer as having an agenda which should be questioned!”

Inverness, one of two clubs in the Championsh­ip to reject the resolution to curtail the season after Dundee were permitted to change their vote, are infuriated that Doncaster and others insist democracy has spoken when referring to the 81 per cent vote in favour of the resolution.

“The repeated use of the yes voting 81% as a validation of the [SPFL’S] Board’s position is risible at the very best,” the statement said. “If a vote is seen as a gun to your head and if you don’t vote yes you will be financiall­y disadvanta­ged during a complete industry shutdown with zero revenue coming in to any club and subsequent­ly 81% vote for it, that does not validate the SPFL Board’s resolution, far from it.”

Rangers hope to persuade clubs to instigate an independen­t investigat­ion into the vote at an SPFL EGM tomorrow. The Ibrox club have offered to pay for the probe themselves if clubs are concerned about the costs. They require at least 75 per cent of the 42 member clubs to approve the resolution.

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