Gary Mackay: Hearts' training pause was one of the most scandalous decisions ever
Some decisions made by Scottish football’s governing bodies during lockdown I’ve agreed with, some I haven’t been too sure, and some I haven’t agreed with.
For Hearts to be told to stop training, while Hull City are using the very same facility our club uses, is one of the most bizarre and outrageous decisions I’ve ever known.
People go on about Neil Doncaster knowing nothing about football, supposedly being in the job for business acumen and things like that, but Ian Maxwell doesn’t have that excuse.
He played for Queen’s Park, Ross County, St Johnstone, St Mirren and Partick Thistle. He knows how the game works.
He says the decision wasn’t about Hearts but it absolutely was, for the simple reason that they were the only team in the entire country who had to stop training. None of the others had even started, and Glasgow City Women were allowed to continue.
A club who weren’t involved in any protocol or rule breaches, and who have done everything right as they resumed training, were punished yet again. It was one of the most ludicrous and scandalous things ever.
You always give people the benefit of the doubt but I am really starting to feel concern about whether there is a witch-hunt going on here.
The finances Hearts bring to the Championship is one of the reasons certain teams in that division didn’t vote to expand the Premiership a couple of months ago.
So don’t try to kid us that Hearts’ financial strength is now a disadvantage because they are back training before the rest.
Morton’s chief executive Dave MacKinnon, who is someone I really like and respect, played at Rangers and knows very well that financial differences among Scottish clubs have been evident for over 100 years. It’s not just in the last couple of weeks.
The whole thing is an absolute nonsense. It sounds like the SFA and SPFL have had a chat with the Scottish Government, admitted Aberdeen and Celtic players made mistakes, and then decided to punish everyone else – while giving the Premiership another chance.
I’m sorry, that doesn’t stack up to me in any way whatsoever. Each individual player should be dealt with as a separate case.
I’m not into punishing Aberdeen or Celtic, it’s the individual stupidity we need to look at. Maybe that has now happened and it hasn’t been made public.
For clubs outwith those who broke the rules to have to take the hit is a load of garbage. There is a sigh of relief that Hearts have now been allowed to return to training as of Monday, but they simply should never have been stopped in the first place.
Breaking a pre-season training programme isn’t helpful, for the club or for the players individually. The time they have been off will have unsettled them but getting to go back is now tokenistic.
It’s only moving away from a mistake which is as big as any I can remember in the Scottish game. It is beyond me, completely unfathomable.
If we were being governed by people who actually seemed to care about Heart of Midlothian, then you would expect their training arrangements to resume and not be interrupted again without a very good reason.
If that doesn’t happen, it will really highlight how disliked the club now is and how we are perceived by other clubs. The people on these boards at the SPFL and SFA all have personal connections with other clubs to some extent. They don’t have any interest in Hearts.
A message from the Editor: Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers – and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. Subscribe to the Edinburgh Evening News online and enjoy unlimited access to trusted, fact-checked news and sport from Edinburgh and the Lothians. Visit https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.