A Whirlwind 24 Hours Which Shows SPFL Unfit To Govern Along With Massive Monetary Concerns

Neil Doncaster
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Neil Doncaster, the CEO of the Scottish Premier League, talks during the Leaders In Sport conference at Stamford Bridge (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

So what a period of 24 hours it was yesterday. First, let me start by congratulating Bayern Munich for winning the Bundesliga last night. It was a gruel all right against Werder Bremen, but they pulled it off. Nice change seeing championships won on the ground, and hopefully, we will get to congratulate Liverpool next for doing it the right way.

Now, coming to the main story about how the mask slipped even further off the face of the financial woes the SPFL are facing. Let me acknowledge firstly, that it will be challenging to keep everything straight as so much happened, but let me try anyway.

Before we talk about anything about yesterday, let’s back up a bit. Edinburgh News around four days back put out a story which said SPFL face £6m compensation claim from Hearts and others if league reconstruction fails. However, when I spoke to my source at Hearts (exclusively revealed first to my Patreons), he told me the figure was substantially higher for Hearts alone. According to his estimate, Hearts would claim a loss of £8m due to this unjust demotion. Add an extra £1m for the losses incurred by Partick Thistle and Stranraer, and the total figure stands at £9m. So that is a £9m liability straightaway that SPFL will have to redress in court.

Isn’t this fun? And depressing? A little bit of both? Well, we have not even come to the main course. That brings us to yesterday when Partick Thistle announced a U-turn from their previous announcement and confirmed that they would be joining Hearts in the legal action against SPFL. So that is a £9m claim that SPFL will have to defend from the two member clubs. Also, add in the legal expense that they will have to bear and payout in case they lose (which is more likely than not given the precedents in Belgium and France), and the figure crosses £10m easily.

Ann Budge of Hearts in crowd
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – DECEMBER 01: Hearts owner Ann Budge is seen during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox Stadium on December 01, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

While the clubs would obviously ask the Court (and Competitions and Marketing Authority) for relief from relegation given how the leagues were called on PPG and teams were unfairly relegated with several games to go, the monetary aspect could be crucial as SPFL don’t have the money to payout (which I will prove later). Also, as confirmed by my Hearts source as revealed first on Patreon by me, the club will be asking for an interdict order to ensure that the Premiership does not start without Hearts until a final judgement is made. Can you imagine if the Premiership cannot begin on August 1? Imagine the fallout but most importantly think about the financial implications.

Now, this would be enough to write this article but wait; there was more on offer. Scottish Sun (apologies for linking them) revealed that BT Sport is currently locked in a £3m compensation fight with SPFL as the season ended early. Today morning there was a report by The Times (subscription needed), that SPFL is close to paying out £2.5m to BT Sports. Also, BBC wants compensation for the games that they missed out for radio and TV coverage. So add everything up, and it does not make for pretty reading.

Now, while on paper, we are supposed to believe that a deal was struck with Sky where only £300k will be paid out annually for five years, it seems the reality is different. However, any of you believe Sky (a corporate entity) rolled over so easily to Doncaster? Ya, right! Remember the Rangers dossier based on a whistleblower report? This is a part of that report:

“At one stage, when Stewart Robertson asked Doncaster about the potential liability to Sky, Doncaster said that part of any claim could be met by giving Sky the league sponsorship package at no cost.

“This is a right which has a value of £1.5m per annum. Such a solution, or partial solution, would reduce clubs’ fee payments from the SPFL in future seasons and was not mentioned within the club briefing paper.”

This is worth £7.5m added to the £1.5m we already know about right now! Are you getting angry yet? Hold on, as I have more.

I went to the Companies House website (and I had the help of Joe Black in digging this out, maybe you know him on Twitter) and see the balance sheet I found.

SPFL balance sheet for 2018-19 season

This is the balance sheet for the 2018-19 season as the recent one is yet to be uploaded (which would definitely be worse so let’s see how long the SPFL holds on to that one). If you exclude the liabilities, SPFL are basically holding on to £787k net, that’s it.

Given this season’s liabilities, it won’t be surprising if once the recent report is out, the cash reserve goes to negative. In such a scenario, maybe it’s time for the SPFL to consider resuming this season after all. After all, that is what the Belgian Pro League is supposedly considering.

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