Did you notice a degree of synchronicity in yesterday’s statements by Hearts and Newco?
Newco: “It is abhorrent that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the current SPFL proposals were implemented.”
Hearts: “no Club should be penalised as a consequence of these exceptional circumstances”.
Newco: “[We propose] a member’s resolution which would release prize money to be distributed to all clubs throughout Scotland”.
Hearts: “we will be supporting the Members Resolution being put forward by Rangers [sic].
The SPFL proposal, to finish and call the season for the bottom three divisions now, and for the Premiership as soon as it is clear it cannot be finished, is the only possible way forward for Scottish football, and even then, it might not be enough.
Let’s be clear about the decision facing clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two. They are currently in lockdown, players and other staff furloughed, government dues are deferred, so cash burn is low. “Prize money” would be handy, but only if you can do the right thing with it.
If these leagues are not called now, but have to finish their seasons after lockdown eases in order that no club is “unfairly relegated”, their cash burn situation changes significantly. With zero prospect of paying spectators for the early months after lockdown, clubs would need to re-employ players and coaches for the 10-12 weeks minimum it will take to undergo an element of preseason and complete the remaining matches.
That’s the best part of 3 months with zero income and normal outgoings. “Prize money” that could be used to cope with what is inevitably going to be a difficult new season, will be burned trying to finish this season. It will not be enough money for any club to offset the increase in costs when furlough is ended.
In order to finish this season, the number of games played next season would have to be curtailed. Next season’s TV deal is significantly higher than the current one.
The choice becomes having more games under this season’s low value TV deal, while burning your “prize money” on games without spectators, or maintaining a high value TV contract, while keeping your “prize money” to offset the lack of gate receipts for the opening months of the season. The latter option might be viable for some, the former is a recipe for bankruptcy for most.
And yes, the “prize money” quote must have taken some mental gymnastics at Newco, you cannot have prizes until you know the outcome. They want the money but don’t want ANY outcome.
I see the benefit in not calling the Premiership now. Let’s see what transpires between Belgium and Uefa – and we would all like to see Celtic become champions and Hearts relegated on the field. Celtic are hoping these things happen in August, but I doubt it.
Uefa will eventually issue guidance and all leagues will declare their champions. The new season will start behind closed doors, but with Champions League and domestic TV cash flowing. Some solidarity cash will trickle down, giving some a fighting chance.
As for how SPFL clubs will vote? I am far from confident they have the collective insight to see a path through the next few months. They will need the Wisdom of Solomon, and if any of them had that quality, they would not be in football. Liquidation stalks the corridors, even the odd marble staircase!