Speaking on Sky Sports News, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has given his thoughts on Hearts’ allegedly imminent reconstruction proposal and their threat of legal action.
After clubs agreed there was no realistically safe or financially viable way to restart the campaign amid the global health crisis, the SPFL declared the Premiership season finished on Monday afternoon.
Determining the final standings on a points per game basis, the governing body declared Celtic champions and relegated Hearts.
Ladbrokes Premiership and SPFL Season 2019/20 curtailed as Premiership clubs reach unanimous agreement that top flight cannot be finished.
— SPFL (@spfl) May 18, 2020
The title decision has angered many Rangers fans, while Hearts have vowed to fight against what they believe is an unjust demotion.
In a statement released later on Monday, the Edinburgh club made it clear they would soon reveal a new league reconstruction proposal which would see no club ‘unfairly punished’, before hinting that if the resolution was not supported, they would take legal action against the SPFL [heartsfc.co.uk].
“Any action that’s taken by any member against the league, ultimately, is taken against members as a whole,” said Doncaster on Sky Sports News. “We don’t hold reserves year to year so any action that any one individual club takes, effectively the burden of that would fall on all the other members.”
SPFL: Neil Doncaster says "it was clear to all and sundry" that there wasn't the time to get the remaining Premiership fixtures played. pic.twitter.com/sNDPtLVDN6
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) May 20, 2020
“Ann Budge of Hearts is keen to come back again with another resolution looking at reconstruction around an enlarged Premiership and clearly that would have the consequence of effectively avoiding relegation for those clubs relegated as a result of the early curtailment of season 19/20.”
“It’s likely that any expansion would need 11 out of the 12 Premiership clubs to approve it and then 75% of other clubs. The devil is in the detail here, but we’re certainly looking forward to seeing the proposal and as and when we receive it we can share it with member clubs and have a broader discussion.”
Doncaster is clearly attempting to discourage Hearts from pursuing legal action by making it clear that it would financially impact all member clubs, including Rangers.
However, it does seem that the SPFL are open to the concept of reconstruction.
Whether or not any rejigging of the current league system is realistic is another thing entirely, though.
Given that the ideas put forward by a reconstruction group were rejected during a meeting of top-flight clubs earlier in the month, it seems likely that regardless of what Budge’s Hearts come up with, they won’t receive the near-unanimous support required for the resolution to pass.
An expansion of the Premiership to 14 teams would bring added variety to the Rangers fixture list, but would likely reduce their share of funding received from the SPFL and broadcasters.