There was good news from Uefa yesterday when we learned that only the first three qualification rounds would be held as a one-off game, the play-off round will be home and away. There are still chronic hazards, let’s not forget that our incredible domestic ‘Invincibles’ season started with defeat in Gibraltar to Lincoln Red Imps, a similar result next season would see us exit Europe without a parachute to the Europa.
Our current financial situation means it has never been more important that we reach the Champions League, but it is absolutely critical we have European competition of some sort going into the autumn. We’ll hear more on what Uefa have to say on Financial Fair Play later today.
I don’t quite know where to begin on Hearts and Partick Thistle. They started proceedings in the Court of Session yesterday, seeking £8m and £2m compensation respectively for being relegated while in a relegation spot when the league was ended. They also threatened to serve an interdict to stop the Premiership starting on 1 August.
First off, the threat of interdict is nonsense, the evidence required by a court to stop 13 businesses from operating (12 clubs and the SPFL) would be overwhelming and simply does not exist. Secondly, you need to show where you are damaged before a court would award compensation. It is easy to make claims about all the money you could make, but it is very difficult to establish that all the successes you hope for would happen. Hearts £8m figure looks like it has lots of could happen, there is no supporting evidence of what would happen.
Legally, this issue comes down to two matters: did the votes to terminate the Premiership (which Hearts supported) and the lower leagues take place according to the SPFL’s rules, and does the SPFL have the right to decide upon its own rules and procedures?
There was no ‘dossier’, no claim has been made that League rules were not followed and no one, as yet, as claimed the League cannot decide its own rules and procedures. A similar action, with different promotion/relegation outcomes, failed in the Netherlands, where a court ruled that the League was entitled to decide the rules of its own competition.
So why are Fran and Anna of Hearts and Thistle doing this? Consider what Newco did in April and May. As Hearts and Thistle are now doing, they ran an ‘Us against the world’ campaign. It looked futile, and technically it failed, but nothing sells season tickets like a mad rant. I have absolutely no doubt Newco have sold more than us right now and that money is keeping the lights on. In football, politics and elsewhere, when you have nothing else, you sell your credibility and play to your base. This is how the world operates now: polarise and fill your boots. Anger rewards imbeciles, you will see it every day.
We got to win the arguments but ‘Everyone thinks we are right’ does not sell season tickets as well as ‘Everyone’s against us’. Hearts and Thistle need a bit of that love from their fans and I am sure ticket sales at both clubs bounce the more militant they sound. The scorched earth policy to the rest of Scottish football is a sideshow; this is all about selling season tickets. Frame the question like that and everything mad that’s happened since April makes sense.