Hearts and Partick Thistle have pledged to continue their fight against the Scottish Professional Football League following today’s ruling at the Court of Session.
Both clubs saw their legal action against relegation referred to the Scottish Football Association’s arbitration process by Lord Alistair Clark QC.
They must now await the SFA convening an independent panel for a tribunal to hear their complaint, although it will not be heard in public as it would have been in court.
The SFA will not sit in judgment on the matter, they will simply help arrange a three-man panel. This must be done quickly to avoid delaying the start of the new Scottish football season on August 1.
Lord Clark cited rule 99 of the SFA articles of association – stating clubs cannot take legal action over a football dispute without permission of the SFA board – as reason for sending the case to an independent arbitration.
Hearts and Thistle petitioned the Court of Session to have their relegations overturned after league reconstruction talks collapsed last month. If not, they want £8million and £2m in compensation.
Importantly, Lord Clark supported the clubs’ request to recover documents relating to the case in order for the full information to be given during the arbitration hearing.
A joint statement from Hearts and Thistle read: “After three days of detailed and complex submissions, Partick Thistle and Heart of Midlothian today learned the outcome of our preliminary hearing in the Court of Session, presided over by Lord Clark.
“It is important to note that this was only to determine how to proceed.
“Lord Clark found in our favour in two motions while we were unsuccessful in one. While denied the opportunity for a public hearing in Court this simply means we now pursue the same outcome in a different forum.
“Importantly, we were successful in the motion to get access to a number of documents that will be key to support our case in arbitration.
“Both clubs are also pleased to have received a fair hearing and feel it important to point to Lord Clark’s words that: ‘I do not blame the petitioners for not raising proceedings or seeking arbitration whilst that important and potentially crucial alternative [of reconstruction] was available and was actively being facilitated by the SPFL.’
“We promised our supporters that we would fight for them and we shall continue to do so. Neither club will be making any further comment today.”
A spokesperson for the SPFL said: “We welcome today's decision at the Court of Session that this case should be dealt with under the Scottish FA’s arbitration process. We will now prepare for the Scottish FA arbitration.”
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