The report prepared for the SPFL General Meeting alleges its chief executive, Neil Doncaster, breached his duties as a company director. His “guiding hand”, apparently, did not provide material information to clubs ahead of their vote last month, misrepresented the situation through non-disclosure, did not exercise care, skill and diligence. It concludes there is “reasonable grounds for suspecting” he breached his fiduciary duty as a director of the SPFL.
Let’s be clear on the allegation, it is weak “suspecting” he was in breach, and was qualified by the adjective, “reasonable”. Not overwhelming, indisputable or even good, just reasonably good. It is not a good start.
It is alleged the SPFL could be on the hook for £10m in refunds to broadcasters and sponsors as a result of the lower leagues being curtailed and the possibility that the Premiership is also cut short. As the latter is yet to take place, this point is not credible. Broadcasts are overwhelmingly of the top flight, which will only be cancelled when all details are correct.
It is contended that future SPFL revenues could be restricted if, in future, the SPFL parts with other marketable properties e.g. league sponsorship rights. It is clear that none of this may happen and even if it does, it is not clear what, if any, alternatives would potentially be available, as these events have not happened.
Clubs may suffer financial loss if the SPFL is subject to future financial claims, which it subsequently loses, “Why was this not disclosed?” Again, any number of future events may or may not happen. But they have not happened!!
The report then alleges clubs were erroneously told they could only receive cash by voting for the SPFL resolution. Neil Doncaster examined this point in detail on BBC Sportsound on Saturday. It was the board’s view that loans to 42 clubs were not practical and limited scope existed to provide advances to the 30 lower league clubs, as money due to those finishing bottom of each table have almost been reached with the payment made in March.
The report asserts that there will be “significant difficulty” in getting the required agreement of SKY TV to league reconstruction and that this was not disclosed to clubs. I have seen no evidence of this significant difficulty and would be astonished if Doncaster had not received positive correspondence from SKY on the matter.
On corporate governance, it is claimed that Aberdeen got an assurance from the board that the Premiership would not be called without the board consulting with Premiership clubs, that this assurance was not disclosed to all 42 clubs and this, therefore, becomes a failure of corporate governance.
Agreeing to consult before taking a decision is not often regarded as a corporate governance failure. Dare I say this is a bit of a stretch?
There is a semantic point, “Clubs were given the misleading impression that they had to vote by 5.00pm on Friday.” The SPFL email asked them to vote by that time “if possible”. Frankly, despite the lack of weight thus far, I am amazed this point reached the final report.
Not relating to these issues, the minutes of 15 SPFL meetings were “unapproved”, the board took less than 24 hours to review 118 pages of detailed notes and an update on the vote status was given on Friday 10 April, before it was complete. The latter point was definitely a Hobsons’ Choice matter, but none of this amounts to misconduct.
The SPFL’s QC’s opinion on the “Rangers [sic.], Hearts and Inverness” requisition was “leaked” to SPFL board member Ross McArthur (yes, really) and the SFA vice president Mike Mulraney. Honestly, we’re not in smoking gun territory here, are we?
Dundee’s vote gets a bit of attention. “Why was Dundee’s email address not whitelisted?” No assertion was made that this suggestion was put to the board, even by board member Stewart Robertson. And “Why was the quarantine not checked until 8.30?” I know this one! Because the vote was still open and it was only after Dundee got in touch to cancel their vote that someone realised it had already been sent.
They also challenge Dundee’s process for cancelling their vote, although not their right to cancel it. Yes, actually.
Dundee chairman, John Nelms, comes in for the heaviest treatment, although he is not in the firing line. It is alleged that in a conversation with the Partick Thistle CEO he offered to negotiate with Dundee United and Raith Rovers to forgo some of their fee payments in order to offer Partick and Stranraer a higher fee – and to try to arrange friendlies with “big-hitters”
No claim is made that Nelms was empowered by the SPFL to act in this way. He will no doubt answer for himself soon enough.
Threats were apparently made by SPFL solicitor Rod McKenzie to the CEOs of Dundee and Inverness that if they did not agree to the proposal, Championship payments would be split in 10 equal ways. This possibility was also made by Neil Doncaster on Sportsound, who made it clear that demand had been made on them, so it is not as though McKenzie was acting alone or either acted frivolously or off the record.
Douglas Park’s allegation of bullying centres on Rod McKenzie’s email to him, stating “Can we not simply resolve this by a confirmation that such an allegation will not be repeated in connection with these events and that the suggested course of action will not be proceeded with?”
I honestly put my head in my hand at this point. “Can we not simply resolve this….?” is not how bullying works. ‘Snowflake’ does not being to address this level of sensitivity. Mr Park, have some self-respect.
Uefa were approached with a joint letter from the SPFL and SFA on 4 April, when they stated “the vast majority” of clubs wanted the season curtailed. This was before the vote, so they were working on other feedback from clubs, or not at all. The former option is supported by the SPFL vote on 10 April. The report does not cite the SFA as co-conspirator, which is nice.
That’s all, folks! As a friend said earlier, go easy on them, they are a new club learning the ropes. The SPFL will enjoy a landslide win on Tuesday’s vote.
Message from HamiltonTim then Lennybhoy in memory of Helen Dunese Stewart, Minx1888:
“After the sad passing of my wife Helen (Minx 1888) on Saturday 2/05/20 the family have been inundated with offers from people wishing to send flowers or make donations to a cause. Consequently, we’re asking that donations be made to Strathcarron Hospice.”
JustGiving account for Strathcarron in memory of Helen
“Ghuys as you will know from reading CQN we recently launched the WalkwithShay Legacy Fund and set out our purpose. However, given the news of Helen’s death and on Chris launching his just giving page we would like to invite any of you that have not already donated a chance to either do so through the above just giving page or if you are unable to do so then send a donation to the WWS Legacy Fund account:
Account Name: Walk with Shay
Sort Code: 80-22-60
Account No.: 15326765
Please put your moniker as the reference. If you are unable to do either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have already ordered flowers, done so before Chris launched the just giving page. The flowers are from you, ‘CQN’.
Helen was a massive part of the CQN family, many more worthy contributors to this blog have listed causes that she was instrumental in helping.The CQN family are second to none and always rise to the challenge, I as always have faith in you all. Helen had faith in you, please please donate via the just giving page or the WWS Legacy Fund account.
Chris’s target was £1,000 at time of this post the amount donated stands at £3,091.00
Thank you in advance CQN…
Until we meet again…
Keep the Faith!