Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Scottish football leagues mulling cancellation

A vote held on the future of the current Scottish football season has caused huge conflict between clubs with legal challenges likely to follow.

Coronavirus: Scottish football leagues mulling cancellation

Scottish football has been plunged into uncertainty following the news last evening that the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) is on the verge of cancelling the season entirely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday’s vote was due to decide on the future of the Scottish Championship and Leagues One and Two, with the SPFL proposing to end the season now due to public health fears.

The league’s proposal has received the required support of ten Scottish Premiership clubs and 16 of the sides in both League One and League Two. However they still require backing from one more Championship club before the resolution can be passed with one second tier club yet to vote.

Dundee are currently third in the Championship table and did not submit their decision before the league’s 5pm deadline on Friday evening. The current proposal would see promotion and relegation decided based on the points per game each side has recorded in matches played so far, meaning they would miss out on promotion to their rivals Dundee United.

In an official statement released yesterday the club criticised the league’s intentions at a time when many clubs are struggling financially without the matchday revenue:

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Scottish football divided on SPFL proposals

“In contrast to so much positivity and support, the language in the current proposal condemns clubs to be financially worse off than they already are as we sit here today. This has been difficult to accept.”

The initial deadline set by the SPFL has now passed but league regulations dictate that clubs actually have 28 days to respond to the proposal. With all this added time it appears the dispute will rumble on with Premiership side Rangers also questioning the league’s handling of the issue.

The Glasgow club had attempted to make a number of financial amendments to the proposal which were flatly rejected, with a club statement announcing that they are “confused as to why attempts have been made to slow the progress of Rangers’ resolution.”

Leagues across Europe are battling with similar decisions on the future of their competition. A cancellation would be disastrous for any of the continent’s major leagues with the major implications on broadcasting rights.

In England, tiers three to seven of the non-league system have seen their seasons declared null and void by the FA Council. This too has caused great controversy with some sides on the brink of promotion.

South Shields were sat top of the Northern Premier League with a 12-point cushion when fixtures were suspended and are currently considering their next move in fighting the decision.

Chairman Geoff Thompson took to Twitter to announce: "SSFC will be writing to the FA in the strongest possible terms and will seek an appeal or will take legal action”.

These cases are some of the earliest to show the complexity of any decisions on the future of the football season. With lockdown measures looking likely to be extended in the UK, that issue may soon be a real consideration for the Premier League.