Today I got an email from a very good friend of mine who knows some people in football; this guy has never given me direct stuff before, although he moves in the right circles.
I never ask him for stuff, and he never volunteers it.
But today he did, and very openly.
There are a lot of conversations going on behind the scenes in the game right now, some of them about league reconstruction, some of them about how to give clubs a financial boost, some of them about whether to hand out titles and trophies.
Most of these conversations are being had in a manner that is understandably private, but nobody has any problems with the fact of them being known.
Some clubs are actively lobbying like mad, for example, and have told the media what their issues are.
But other conversations are being had in secret, away from the mainstream, and the people who are having them have much less interest in details emerging into the public mind. I do not know who the clubs involved are, but I’m told that a couple of them are already lobbying the SPFL to call an emergency meeting to discuss “financial matters” and “issues arising from them.”
One of the key demands these clubs are making is that the SPFL publicly invoke a little understood section of its regulations as is relative to clubs entering administration.
Right now that comes with a whopping penalty, one that would – for example – annihilate any side who fancied their chances of winning a league.
Understand that I’m not saying that one of those clubs is Sevco. Because there are clubs all over Scotland in financial turmoil right now. Many are considering entering administration, or at least know that they should start making preparations just in case.
There is an obvious upside to entering that process right now.
To do it now means that your current points total is reduced by 15.
It would doom Hearts to certain relegation in the event football suddenly restarted. That’s why they are content to wait to see which way the wind blows first. If the season is voided or ended early they can do it now, go into next season with the 15-point hit, and pray that they get through it somehow.
For most clubs that’s a consideration to take into account. Not for others.
And here’s what the backroom lobbying is about. There is an appeal clause open to clubs who suffer that penalty; this is what it says.
E8.3 the Deductible Insolvency Event, which resulted in the points deduction or deductions against which the appeal is made, arose as a result of a Force Majeure Event.
What those clubs wants is for the SPFL to go on the record and call the global health emergency a “force majeure event” and therefore suspend the disciplinary process for entering administration for now, the next campaign … and perhaps even beyond.
And the way I see it, this would primarily affect one club … the one that consistently overspends.
Sevco needs constant injections of ready cash.
It has since the day and hour it crawled out of Rangers’ grave.
It needs director loans, soft loans, shark loans … the club cannot stand on its own two feet.
Most of us recognise that Sevco would be in a world of financial hurt even if this season and the world around us had carried on as normal and the first time they fail to make Group Stage European football would be a Year Zero event.
The financial impacts on the club would be felt for years to come, but the footballing impacts would be immediate, and ruin any chance of the club contending for a league title. If this situation is declared a “force majeure” and the whole process put on hold for a while, Sevco could drift in and out of admin without suffering any football penalty at all.
As the rules currently stand, clubs would have to demonstrate, clearly, that the current crisis is the only reason they are facing financial peril.
But Sevco’s own accounts make it clear that they would have been in dire trouble either way, and so they may have had to battle on that front. If they entered administration right now I don’t think that excuse would hold up for even two seconds under appeal … but a week from now, a month from now … they could probably make a case, and they know it.
The thing is, if the SPFL declares this a force majeure and suspends its own regulations willingly … there’s no need for an appeals process at all, no need for clubs to have to prove that they were financially robust, no need for them to even worry about UEFA getting involved or anything like that.
They can simply carry on regardless.
Let me be honest; almost all of the clubs who suffer as a result of this will be genuinely in distress because of the global situation.
For them, the appeal process is a lock.
They will be able to move into the next campaign without a care in the world.
But some clubs have overspent. Some have overextended. Some have not done enough to live within their means.
Entering administration for them means cutting costs, sacking staff, depriving people of their livelihoods … and in the meantime, paying no consequences?
Any change like this must be resisted. Let the rules stand as they are.
As Scottish football goes through the current crisis it is important to keep up with developments and the key issues. We are determined to do so, and to keep you informed as well. Please subscribe to the blog.