Chairman Andrew Smith gives his thoughts on a dramatic week for Scottish football

Date: 13th April 2020

SPFL Myopia Flares into Civil War

 

 

The Covid 19 Pandemic is a truly serious game-changing situation for us all.
We are all currently staring into a future with no declared road map exit of how we might move back to normality and the certainty of disruption now and long into the future.

 

Against the background of lockdown to curb the virus spread we have all run smack bang into economic and social chaos.

We have gone from normality into unheard of times virtually overnight and with horrendous economic consequences coming every which way into the future.

Football is not important in the greater scheme of things but still has issues that need attention and urgently because it affects people’s lives.

 

This Week’s SPFL Plan to Move On

 

The SPFL are simply the members association who run our leagues on a “for the members, by the members, for the members” kind of way in theory.

For reasons known to them they collectively took the decision to start to draw an end to season 2019 – 2020 with its Covid 19 uncertainty.
This was probably to allow them and all their members (our clubs) to at least start to plan for the future when income streams will return.

 

From speaking to those involved from the club side and reading and hearing more at a truly astonishing pace since Wednesay 8thof April, just 3 day ago, the SPFL decided in their wisdom that the best solution was to conflate two particular issues.

To back their case quite forcibly they also provided over 100 pages of supportive material.  All good bedtime reading for our club’s boards I have been told but haven’t seen it.

The issues the SPFL decided to conflate were to-pro rata all games played so far this season so they could equalise and close the Championship and Leagues 1 and 2.

Not the Premiership although the premier clubs all got a vote too on the other three leagues.

If and only if the motion was agreed by the members then the end of season prize money would be forthcoming from the SPFL bank almost immediately.

 

Money desperately needed by some members.

A real lifeline in troubled times.

 

There was also a possible wee carrot dangled.

This might have been of a sort of soft-ish agreement to look at re-organisation of Scottish Football because despite the 100 odd pages tell clubs to vote yes, the SPFL knew some clubs would not be happy with their proposals and would not agree.

 

In the Real World of Challenged and Stressed Football Clubs

 

The SPFL conflation of “do this or no money” meant things like.

 

The title would be handed to Celtic eventually if Premier Clubs then followed suit.
This was despite Rangers having a mathematical, albeit statistically unlikely, chance of catching their rivals.

 

Hearts would be relegated despite having enough games to catch their nearest rivals and stay safe possibly by a play off (if they hadn’t already been cancelled).

 

Partick Thistle would be relegated because they failed to play one league game while playing another SPFL competition and also had a bunch of games left to save themselves.

 

Stranraer would go down despite being proven late season successful relegation fighters.

 

Brora (declared Highland Champions) and Kelty (current leaders in Lowland League, by a bawhair over Bonnyrigg) would have no play off with a likely game against Brechin or whoever was going to be bottom of the SPFL2 league.

 

And these are just the tip of what football chiefs I’ve spoken with have termed an ill-considered iceberg of matters arising from a hapless attempt to bring some certainty to the SPFL membership.

 

 

72 Hours of Mayhem as Peter was Played Against Paul

 

People are interconnected today and from the moment clubs were pushed into a corner they discussed it together and in depth.
They all know who voted how why and when and have WhatsApp records too.

They all feel they could have done it better.

 

I can’t try to sum up the sheer enormity and quantity of what has happened since Wednesday night but after I had penned a piece for SFM on Friday with suggestions that there was a civil war brewing that is just indeed what happened.

 

Every club effectively had a moral and economic choice and sometimes they were conflicting.

 

Friday was too close to call

 

I was in a few communication loops sitting at home on Friday afternoon as the vote unfolded.

I had been warned how close it was going to be and it was fascinating with first Inverness seen as the potentially key vote then an acceptance just before 5 that the whole thing had failed.

 

Then 5.30ish a different and quite hopeful view came out that after the vote had been seen to have failed that a 14, 14, 14, compromised was likely.

 

Sense seemed to be prevailing.

 

Then later and very late in the day a view that 1 vote (Dundee) had still to come and was in effect now the casting vote with all the power that casting votes carry.

 

Since then we have first seen Dundee castigated in the press and by unthinking media pundits as the villains for holding everything up.

(But that’s now old news).

 

Scott Gardiner on BBC Sportsound.

 

Richard Gordon, Michael Stewart Tom English, Kenny Miller and later on Willie Miller wasn’t a normal filler show in a period with no football.

 

It was truly amazing with some hard facts and honest insights.

 

Honest and truly explosive stuff and not common.

 

I should have been forewarned after one well know football finance insider had tweeted last night ahead of the curve that “Dundee will have earned some concession and will now change their vote” or words to that effect.

 

Wow he was ahead of the tsunami that burst this afternoon.

If you haven’t heard BBC Sportsound at 2 pm today then the first hour or so is unmissable.

 

Since then matters have gone on apace we have now heard that Douglas Parks, interim Chairman of Rangers wants the SPFL CEO Neil Doncaster and his legal counsel Rod Mackenzie (Rangers links) to stand down ahead of an independent inquiry.

 

So less than a day after a yet to be agreed vote outcome and genuine internecine war is brewing and exploding with Mr Parks claiming he has damning information from a whistleblower.

In turn he has been asked by the current SPFL Chairman Murdoch MacLennan to substantiate his “very serious accusations”. .

 

 

So Who Scored the Own Goal and What Can We Do About It?

 

As of now I actually don’t care who did what and when.

Stuff has happened and in the fullness of time we can look at how it happened and what we can do to avoid it into the future.

 

Today we need to move forward and that needs leadership.

 

Here is a 5 point roadmap.

 

Ditch this divisive plan

It doesn’t matter how Dundee vote just consign all this crap to history.

 

Pay all the monies due
This week no strings and if that needs a vote then vote on that and that alone.

 

Agree what happens and how to end the season
Scottish Football Supporters Association say this must include no relegation and pyramid winners should be included. Don’t penalise anyone at this time.
And an interim plan would be fine of three leagues like nearly got agreed for 20 minutes on Friday.

 

4 Take time
End the season properly and fairly and plan for the future to reinvigorate our game for the greater good. The world has changed but we haven’t.

 

5 Involve all stakeholders especially the fans
This should all be on the record and transparent.

 

 

The Time To Stop The War is Now

Andrew Smith.


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