Yesterday, Dundee Utd took the unprecedented step of asking the rest of Scottish football to help them with their legal fees in relation to what’s going on right now with Hearts and Thistle. It is a request that the game would do well not to ignore.
Hearts and Thistle are fighting against the rest of the sport. I can’t put it more bluntly than that. They are putting their own interests first – as they are fully entitled to do – but in doing so have set their stall out in direct opposition to the wishes of most other clubs.
Those other clubs expressed a clear wish. It was not simply a majority decision but one that required a super-majority. No matter what those two clubs might think happened, that threshold was reached and not a single club who voted for that outcome said that they did so under duress. The Grand Conspiracy never existed.
Hearts and Thistle are threatening the rest of the sport because they did not like that outcome.
Had league reconstruction been voted for, they would not be pursuing this course of action.
That, alone, ought to invalidate their claim.
They only raised this matter when clubs, again, voted decisively in a way that did not benefit them.
What those two clubs are doing is selfish. There is no other way to put it.
Dundee Utd are also acting selfishly but there is a difference here. Their plight affects the rest of us.
It is time for the rest of Scottish football to come together under one banner, and provide a clear demonstration of that.
If Hearts and Thistle win and they are saved from their deserved fates then the ball is up on the slates. I can’t conceive of any scenario where those two clubs don’t get relegated, but a compensation package would hurt every other club in Scotland.
And so when Dundee Utd appeal to the rest of the sport to help them fund this challenge we ought to be taking that seriously, and that support should be extended to them.
It’s in everyone else’s interests that this case goes the right way; apart from the financial cost, there is something dishonest and corrupt about the idea that teams should be able to escape the consequences of their own bad decisions … football exists on the principle of merit and that doesn’t apply to a scenario where clubs can stamp their feet and threaten to bring down the league because of an outcome they don’t like.
From reading the SPFL and SFA regulations on this, it’s not even clear to me that the executive of the league required a vote of the clubs to make this decision. The circumstances were unique and called for a unique solution.
To my mind, the executive was following government health guidelines and the open-ended nature of the crisis made continuing the campaign impossible.
The regulations allow flexibility. The SPFL did not have to ballot its members in the way it did; when the media says that the decision was an affront to democracy they are talking bollocks, because the league went above and beyond here and the results were clear.
Hearts and Thistle should not be allowed to get away with sticking a gun to the heads of the rest of the clubs, and Dundee Utd should not have stand alone in facing them down. This is not Hearts and Thistle versus United and Raith; this is Hearts and Thistle against the rest of Scottish football, and they cannot be allowed to win.
Almost all the sympathy they had is now gone.
Even those who agreed with reconstruction and who broadly agreed that these teams had been treated harshly no longer do.
The reality of it has come home to some people in the realisation that their own clubs will be impacted by a negative verdict in this case; the least those clubs can do is give United’s case the best possible chance of success. The success, in the end, will be their own.
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