Hearts and Partick Thistle relegations stand as arbitration panel unanimously sides with SPFL

Hearts and Partick Thistle’s joint legal bid to overturn their respective relegations was unanimously rejected by a three-person tribunal this morning. Jamie Mcintosh reports.

hearts relegated.jpg

The decision to officially confirm Hearts and Partick’s relegations came at the hands of a three-person tribunal, who also decreed that neither club were due any of the compensation that they had campaigned for.

Despite their calls for £10 million in compensation fees, it was also deemed that the two clubs will not receive any compensation due to the premature ending of the 2019/20 season, which saw both clubs relegated. 

The decision has been welcomed by SPFL Chairman Murdoch MacLennan, who described the arbitration result as “an important step for Scottish football”. He went on to mention the thoroughness in which the trial was carried out, with the governing bodies “leaving no stone unturned and no allegation unanswered.” 

Hearts and Partick Thistle attempted to take the SPFL to court over their allegedly unlawful relegations. However, Lord Alistair Clark QC referred the matter to SFA arbitration. An independent panel last Monday began hearing submissions from both sides QC’S before reaching its conclusion this morning. 

The SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “This is a clear, comprehensive and unanimous decision. I am absolutely delighted that our approach has been vindicated throughout, following an intense period of legal scrutiny and review.”

It remains to be seen whether Hearts and Partick Thistle will simply “take their medicine” or continue to pursue the case – this time, back in the Court of Session.  However, even the panel member that Hearts and Thistle were able to select themselves backed the view that relegations for the 2019/20 season should stand. 

Hearts and Thistle are now facing a rather large pay out – they could be fined up to a £1 million fee by the SFA for going against their set rules and taking a case to court. They are also expected to be liable to pay the court fees for the promoted clubs – Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers. 

The question I am now asking myself is whether or not Hearts were led on a merry dance and misinformed about legal proceedings and how said proceedings could pan out? Former Hearts Chairman and Edinburgh lawyer Leslie Deans was very vocal before the beginning of the legal proceedings. Deans claimed that Hearts could be due up to £8 million from SPFL member clubs. 

That went well… 

It does beg the question if people such as Deans and others influenced the decision of Ann Budge to take the matter to court in the first place.We all know for a fact that Ann Budge wasn’t keen on taking the matter to court, hence why she chaired the reconstruction group and was so vocal and open minded about finding an alternative solution.

Other member clubs didn’t want to know however and when reconstruction was comprehensively voted down, Budge and her Partick Thistle Counterpart Jacqui Low felt they were now left with no option but to include the courts in the matter. The SPFL have denied any wrongdoing throughout and now an arbitration panel with access to all documents has unanimously confirmed that. 

As for Hearts and Partick, they should now begin to prepare for life in the Championship and League One respectively, along with Stranraer, who were relegated to League Two. All three leagues are due to resume on the 17th October. 

The last five months in Scottish football will leave a sour taste for many and have created hatred and division within our game that will not be disappearing anytime soon. All the conspiracy theories about Peter Lawell, Neil Doncaster and the Dundee vote among many others have surely now been put to bed by the arbitration panel as we begin to look forward to the resumption of football in Scotland. 

With the new Premiership season due to commence on Saturday the arbitration trial has reached its conclusion just in time. Whatever your viewpoint on the matter, surely we can agree this whole process is now at an end and the time has come to start looking forward to the new football season in Scotland… or can you? 

Leave a Reply