Put your right foot in

Date: 7th July 2020

The latest blog by SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

You put your right foot in…

You take your right foot out…

So now we know. Not even the courts of the land can do the hokey kokey…

In a long awaited hope that some kind of solution would be found both Partick Thistle and Heart of Midlothian found themselves at the Court of Session on one side last week. On the other side were the SPFL, Raith Rovers, Dundee United and Cove Rangers.

In the gallery was the rest of Scottish football, the players and in a tiny space somewhere, the fans. None of them applauded at the end of this because it has been sent back to the authorities who can’t organise an easy way of getting fans into vital World Cup Games.

They call it arbitration but there is no ACAS in sight to advise.

In simple terms, the Court of Session decided that both Thistle and Hearts should pursue their claims in a different forum. It should not be decided in court but through the rules of the football authorities under the auspices of the Scottish Football Association. We can’t condemn Lord Clark, for it is he who decided it ought to be done this way but the reality is that he has come to a conclusion with the issues in front of him and without prejudice as to the result.

I have no such confidence that such a background shall exist in the SFA fora.

Both Thistle and Hearts have pronounced their pleasure that they “got a fair hearing” and their one critical victory was that access to sensitive document will be released to them – they think it shall help their case.

The unseemly nature of both the pursuit of justice in a forum for justice and the inability of the authorities charged with the responsibility to dole out such justice internally is palpable. The result of the court case, whilst I was in favour of it going this far, appears to simply prolong the agony for most fans. When will the process be established? Who shall sit in on the panel? How will it be decided? How will we all trust this? Why can’t we just expand the leagues and get it over and done with?

According to the rules now, each party will nominate an individual from the Tribunal Candidate List, and those two appoint someone who has been a judge, solicitor or advocate for at least ten years to act as chairman. It was intimated that this could happen as early as Monday; could be.

There remain complex political issues. For people who make their living out of commenting on such issues within football this is gold dust. But the thing that may see their relegation overturned and the process exposed as being injurious and unfair to both Thistle and Hearts is now due to go on and on for some time. In court Hearts and Thistle won two out of three making it 2-1 at half time for the aggrieved parties. We await the second half with interest and not a little fear…

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