Timeline Of The SPFL Incompetence Yesterday As Everything That Could Go Wrong Did Go Wrong!

Neil Doncaster, ruler of Scottish Football: Kingdom of Ineptitude
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 06: Rangers Chairman Dave King Ladbrokes representative and Scottish Premier League Chief Executive Neil Doncaster before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

It’s tough to put down yesterday’s events into words. While we will try our best to explain the shitshow that was yesterday, you have to understand that the events moved at such a pace, that it was impossible to keep track of everything at the time. It was almost as if someone was out to confuse the masses in hopes of getting away with it. However, as I learnt at a very young age, never chalk down something to malice where incompetence could be an equally plausible answer.

So, with all the qualifiers out of the way, where we will give SPFL all the benefit in the world, it is still tough to digest the scale of incompetence that was on show yesterday. For all fans, who might not be following Scottish football closely, a rapid recap of what happened before yesterday, so that you are all caught up.

So What Got Us To Yesterday?

The SPFL had invited all 42 clubs from the Premiership, Championship, League One and League Two to vote on a resolution which would see the current ongoing season aborted with ‘average point per game’ deciding which sides are champions and relegated. There would have been no play-offs under this system. While technically only the Championship, League One and League Two would have been completely aborted with the Premiership postponed (and not aborted); in case there were no other games played this season, Hearts would have been relegated with Celtic being handed the title.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JUNE 30: Ann Budge, Owner, CEO and Chairwoman of Hearts during the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round match between Heart of Midlothian FC and FC Infonet Tallinn at Tyncastle Stadium on June 30, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The above proposal required at least 75% approval by teams in the Premiership, Championship, League One and League Two. The spin was that if this proposal passes, clubs could be given the prize money as many sides are struggling to cope up with the bills in the wake of this COVID 19 pandemic.

Some context before we go further, FA had already rejected using this ‘average point per game’ system to finish off the league seasons in England. Smart too as UEFA are supposedly opposed to the leagues being called without sufficient time being taken to arrive at a decision. This is why the Belgian FA are on standby to see what the decision from UEFA would be regarding their declaring the league season over a week ago. That is why we were surprised to see SPFL go ahead with this resolution. With most teams having nothing to play for currently, most thought that the resolution had an excellent chance of going through, unfairly giving Celtic the title and relegating teams like Hearts.

Before the Celtic fans have a go at us for using the word ‘unfairly’, here are the facts. Celtic might be 13 points ahead of Rangers, but the Gers have a game in hand and there are two Old Firm derbies yet to be played. Yes, everything has to go perfectly for Rangers, but there is still a realistic chance that Gerrard’s men finish the season above Lennon’s players. In such a scenario, it would have been a travesty for ‘sporting integrity’ if Celtic were handed the title. However, Scott Brown and Neil Lennon had already made the claim that Celtic should be given the title if the league cannot resume. We wonder if they would have been so gracious if Rangers were in Celtic’s position in the league table? Well, we will never know.

Neil Lennon, manager of Celtic looks on ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Celtic and Ross County at Celtic Park on January 25, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

All caught up? Good!

To counter the need of certain clubs for the prize money, Rangers came up with an alternative plan. In an exclusive reporting by Jordan Campbell of The Athletic (subscription needed), the Gers proposed a change in rules “that would allow the SPFL to provide interest-free loans to clubs equal to the amount they would receive in prize money at the end of the season.”

Sounds a good compromise instead of hastily deciding to end a season, right? If your answer was yes, then sweet child I so envy your innocence and the fact that you don’t support a Scottish club.

This resolution was submitted to the SPFL board on 9th April 2020, but there is some dispute regarding the timing of when this was actually submitted. The SPFL refused the resolution and claimed, “The clear and unequivocal legal advice received by the SPFL is that the resolution received from Rangers is ineffective in terms of company law. As a result, the Board determined this morning that it cannot be circulated to members.

“We have seen a statement from Rangers that they “sought comment from the SPFL Executive on several occasions yesterday, to ensure [their] resolution was deemed competent”. For the avoidance of doubt, only at 10.18pm yesterday did the SPFL’s lawyer receive an email from Rangers seeking advice on the content of their resolution, which was put before the SPFL Board first thing this morning. Rangers have expressed a desire to submit a further resolution.”

Grade 5 clusterf**k, right? Well, we are not even close to anywhere being done and 900 words in, we are just at the start of yesterday morning. While we cannot say that we have independently verified what popular Rangers blogger Four Lads Had A Dream had to say, he is usually really accurate in Rangers matters. So read the following thread from @4ladshadadream.

Mis-representation or straight-up fake news to intimidate?

We were initially told that the clubs had a deadline until 5 pm yesterday. Later, we found out, not really! More on this later.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard looks on during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Rangers and Hibernian at Ibrox Stadium on August 11, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

SPFL had this to say when rejecting the Rangers proposal, “The alternative is further weeks, and possibly months, of uncertainty and financial hardship for dozens of clubs which are desperately looking for a way to survive.”

So, everyone decided to take SPFL on their face value because after all who wants to be against ‘further weeks, and possibly months, of uncertainty and financial hardship for dozens of clubs’. See how a narrative is playing out? Anyways, 5 pm yesterday came and went, and SPFL published the results where it was said that three clubs were yet to vote. But how could the clubs be allowed to vote after the deadline? Turns out it was just a pressure tactic to get clubs to vote as soon as possible, but there was no mandate ever available to the SPFL to force the clubs to vote in this timeline. SPFL’s own league rules (yes their own league rules, let that sink in!) allow 28 days for the clubs to respond. Whether this is simply SPFL getting it wrong and misrepresenting facts or fake news, you decide.

Now coming to the actual vote. It was the Championship where the most eyes were on as that was supposedly the place where this proposal would pass or fail. According to the results published from the SPFL, seven Championship clubs voted in favour of the proposal while two voted against. There needed to be eight votes to carry the resolution and one Championship club was yet to vote. Off course rumours followed!

Chaos reigns supreme

Apparently, Dundee voted no, but they could not vote by the 5 pm deadline. So, rumours on social media went into overdrive. From concerns of Dundee being forced to reconsider to their email being stuck in the SPFL’s spam folder, no good theory was wasted. While Dundee’s statement showed they were leaning towards voting no, there was nothing definitive. However, subsequent reporting showed that Dundee had indeed voted against the resolution.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – DECEMBER 02: Pundit and ex-Celtic player Chris Sutton looks on prior to the Betfred Cup Final between Celtic and Aberdeen at Hampden Park on December 2, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In fact, read this column by Chris Sutton raging against selfish clubs like Dundee. Indeed the pressure to comply to one club’s whims have never been this apparent. So, what happens now? Ideally, now that the vote has failed, this should be the end of that, correct? Well, you know that’s not how it goes in SPFL world. Although if SPFL really believes in their own statement that “the alternative is further weeks, and possibly months, of uncertainty and financial hardship for dozens of clubs which are desperately looking for a way to survive” then they should accept the results of the vote and move towards another alternative.

So where are we now?

No one knows. It should have been over by now. First, we were made to believe that there was a 5 pm deadline. Then when we know the vote failed, there was no communication from the SPFL. We are not even going into the claims that Dundee voted on time, but apparently, SPFL failed to receive it? Seriously, how does an email from a member club go to your spam folder? Surely, that needs checking.

We wanted to note everything down because people like Chris Sutton and tons of outlets just want this done. However, ‘sporting integrity’ is at stake here. Don’t let SPFL change anything now. We all know how the votes went down.

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