SPFL Wars

Date: 1st June 2020

The latest blog from Donald Stewart:

Wars are generally fought on a variety of sides. We have the war on the western front, the war on the eastern front and the war within itself.

Scottish football can be quite greedy at times for it has all three, raging at the same time.

Firstly, we have the war on the western front as Rangers have made clear that the SPFL is not a good thing, oftentimes Celtic suggest a bias from officialdom as their bitter rivals are the establishment club which they see as not a good thing.

There is also the suggestion from all sides, that are not in the West Coast, that those same officials are likely to have some form of West Coast bias or because most media are based in Glasgow that there is a West Coast media bias towards “the big two.”

There is currently an eastern front because the decision to relegate Hearts has led them to begin to prepare for an almighty war that may end up in Switzerland at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. Nobody has suggested that, of course, and it might not get further than a High Court or it might not get to that stage either but there are unpleasant revolts in the Gorgie.

Now both of these wars are understandable, we are even able to live with them as they descend into cliché and folklore but the latest suggestion from a former Board member of the SPL has redefined the war within itself.

Taking the type of logic that you throw a 4 year old in a car and drive for 60 miles to test your eyesight, is reasonable, former SPL Board Member, Stewart Gilmour has suggested in an interview with the Evening Times that Hearts should quit the SPFL to allow them to sue them. It would appear that Gilmour is suggesting that if you don’t like the results of the league votes then go find another league.

So, if you, are part of a league you should abide by their rules, the rules that you agreed to – that seems to be quite sensible.

But then, analyse a little deeper.

It is a league and a democracy with the rule that if you cannot get 80% to agree with you then you are lost.

Oh, and the implicit idea that a democracy knows itself and can be trusted to hold to its own rules? Really?

Is democracy truly a guarantee of any form of liberty or fairness? And if so – why do we even have courts and laws and the scourge of humanity, according to Gilmour, it appears – lawyers?

Simply because human beings cannot be trusted to function fairly because they obey their own self-interest, or have economic imperatives to serve or they are at the mercy of some long forgotten reason as to why institutions do what institutions do. In Scottish football, of course, the people who are not obeyed, do not get well served, or have the ball at their mercy, are the fans who are consistently cut out of it all.

It is a pity that it was Gilmour who was first to raise his head and say what some think, given that he had the vision to turn his club over partly to the fans. I can accept his view has more purchase than most because of his record but I cannot agree with it. Whilst I do not think that lawyers should be oftentimes engaged in the business of football, football is not above the law. If one member of the SPFL feels that the organization of which it is a member has acted illegally it must have recourse to the law. If the law says no, it hasn’t acted illegally, then so be it, but suggesting you have to leave the clubhouse to engineer a change in the rules is anathema to most who have fought for change from the inside.


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