Hearts relegation appeal would be at cost to all SPFL clubs, says Neil Doncaster
Hearts considering legal action after curtailment of 2019/20 season sees them relegated to Scottish Championship
Last Updated: 20/05/20 1:59pm
Any legal action brought against the SPFL by Hearts would be detrimental to the other 41 clubs in the league, according to SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.
Hearts are considering legal action after the curtailment of the 2019-20 season consigned them to a second relegation from the top flight in six years.
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But Doncaster warned that while Hearts are well within their rights to proceed with whatever action they see fit, doing so will be penalising the rest of the SPFL pyramid.
"It's really important that any club makes its own decisions because they are an independent business," Doncaster told Sky Sports News on Wednesday.
"Although they are one of 42 member clubs within the league, each club - and the board of each club - has to do what's right for their club.
"But any action that's taken by any member against the league ultimately is taken against members as a whole.
"We don't hold reserves year to year, so any action that any one individual club takes, effectively the burden of that would fall on all the other members."
On Monday, Celtic were declared Premiership champions and Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer were relegated from their respective divisions. Doncaster insisted there was no further option but to curtail the current season and that such an outcome was welcomed "unanimously".
He also revealed the league expects Hearts owner Ann Budge to submit an amended proposal on a reconstruction of the leagues.
A taskforce was set up in April to look into the possibility of pushing ahead with an expanded 14-team Premiership, only for it to be shelved after opponents claimed it was not an opportune moment to consider such changes.
Budge herself believed the taskforce had been "disrespected" and Doncaster insisted the league will welcome any proposals or amendments with an open mind.
"Ann Budge of Hearts is keen to come back again with another resolution looking at reconstruction around an enlarged Premiership," Doncaster said.
"Clearly that would have the consequence of effectively avoiding relegation for those clubs relegated as a result of the early curtailment of season 19-20, so that would be certainly Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer if that were to come to pass.
"It's something that a number of clubs have said they are open minded about and I think there is a sympathy for the position that the relegated clubs find themselves in and we'll see where it goes.
"We await the proposal and I know that a lot of clubs will want to look at it with a really open mind."
Doncaster is not yet clear what form any intervention from Budge would take and reiterated that such a measure, depending on what changes they are calling for, could require as much as 75 per cent of SPFL clubs to vote in favour.
"Any change would certainly need to go to a vote and it really depends what form of process Hearts choose to go down," Doncaster said.
"We have members' resolutions, board resolutions, possible potential for an EGM, and I know that we at the centre will be doing what we can to support those efforts and it'll remain to be seen whether they are supported by member clubs in the numbers that are required.
"It is likely that any expansion would need 11 out of the 12 Premiership clubs to approve it and then 75 per cent effectively of other clubs.
"But again it does depend on the detail - the devil is in the detail here - but we are certainly looking forward to seeing the proposal and as and when we see it we can share it with member clubs and have a broader discussion."