Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s statement reprised the already-discredited claim that SPFL clubs were given a deadline on Friday 10th at 5pm to vote on the board’s resolution on ending the season. They were, instead, asked to vote “if possible” by then, but had 28 days to respond. This echoes one of the misfired barbs from the ‘dossier’. If you are going to complain, get the facts right and be concise.
The statement also claims tt was apparently clear that the Reconstruction Task Force was setup to fail because it was “inordinately large”. You are asked to believe the SPFL board’s plan to ensure league reconstruction would not take place depended on having a large number of clubs involved in the project. This is a fantasy. An overwhelming majority of clubs would be required to pass a reconstruction vote, having more as authors of the proposition does not sound conniving.
They then call a leak from Premiership clubs (not the SPFL) that plans were scuppered a “disgrace”, but they linked this to a “disingenuous, incompetent shambles that began on Wednesday April 8th”, by the SPFL. I think they have their wires crossed here. Deep breath, ICT.
Not all leaks are bad, however. Inverness would have liked one ahead of the 8 April videoconference, where reasons for calling the lower leagues were first explained. Information seeping out ahead of a formal communication is therefore both good and bad. You notice some inconsistencies?
They claim they were bullied, “threats not robust conversations”, but as seems to be the way of these things, they are not for sharing the details. Maybe we have another dossier to look forward to.
Dundee director, John Nelms, is not named but as with the ‘dossier’, he is very much in the firing line. Nelms must regret acting as conciliator last month. He has already made it clear he was offered no inducements or deals, but ICT suggest he was the only one to have “negotiations” with “big hitters” before changing his vote from No to Yes.
It is not disputed that Dundee had a right to change their vote, or have negotiations. It is not claimed that offers or deals were made, or that anything came from offers or deals, but ICT insist this makes an independent investigation necessary. Without even a claim of impropriety, there is nothing to investigate.
Good news! ICT are happy for Celtic to be champions, should it be impossible to complete the Premiership. Their concern is that Hearts, Partick and Stranraer are relegated when previously an opportunity existed for them to win enough points to avoid this fate.
This gets to the nub of the matter. League reconstruction would have allowed each of those clubs to remain in their previous divisions, while allowing Inverness promotion. I totally understand this and, all other things being equal, would have been happy to see a temporary reconstruction to Hearts and Partick some breathing space.
So why did it fail? In order to expand the Premiership, 11 of the 12 members needed to agree. Why, therefore, did Hearts’ Ann Budge go on the warpath against the SPFL board by seconding tomorrow’s resolution when that board included Alan Burrows of Motherwell and Les Gray of Hamilton?
If you need the help of Burrows and Gray, as well as Hibs (Rod Petrie is on the SFA board, which is included as a conspirator in the ‘dossier’), you would surely deploy a consolatory approach?
Reconstruction talks failed, as a consequence, Inverness and several others lost out on opportunities of promotion and to avoid relegation. This will have real-world consequences for staff, players and fans of ICT. I get this – anger and disappointment is understandable.
Ann Budge was allowed to drive the process, she is experienced and had enough invested in its success to get it right. She knew that Premiership expansion would cost each of the other clubs money – a win-win was technically not possible. She knew expansion needed 11 votes; winning 10 friends was her one and only task. Does anyone think she understood this?
The SPFL board made their recommendations on concluding the season and intimated they would facilitate reconstruction, which was always in the hands of the clubs. The most vulnerable should have embarked on a diplomatic endeavour. Instead, they started open warfare, whether by WhatsApp group, dossier or rambling incoherent statement.
Maybe those who leaked the Championship WhatsApp group chat will in time reflect they were the architects of their own downfall. I hope it was not leaked by one of the clubs denied an opportunity of promotion, that would be a spectacular act of self-harm. Still, at least it’s not as bad as forgetting to order seats for your new stand!
Thankfully, Celtic have stayed well clear of this undignified mess. I hear all efforts are focused on winning the Magic 10.