Leslie Deans’ open letter to SPFL on reconstruction

Former Hearts chairman has written to Scottish Professional Football League over attempts to restructure the divisions. Here is the full text of the letter

Sunday, 14th June 2020, 4:05 pm
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has said the board could not go against the will of the majority of the clubs. Picture: SNS

We’ve now reached D-Day for Scottish football. Will our clubs elect for a new dawn and reconstruction to 14-10-10-10 where no club suffers major harm and damage or do they reject the opportunity before them?

And if more than 21 of our 42 clubs give the SPFL Board’s proposal a positive response, will the board use the executive powers it possesses to impose reconstruction?

Neil Doncaster said on Sky TV as recently as last Friday that the board could not go against the will of the majority of the clubs. An imposed reconstruction would prove he spoke with honesty and integrity.

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Partick Thistle’s excellent statement on 13 June calls for clubs to come together and cause no lasting harm. The alternative is the litigation which Hearts, and perhaps others, will have to pursue. I believe the already strong case is strengthened by the restraint of trade principle and recent decisions in France and Belgium.

The SPFL board should consider the damage this litigation could cause.

Firstly, as someone who’s been in the legal profession for 45 years, I can assure them it could be months or years before any case is finally settled. The legal process can be slow and the courts are, like us all, affected by the lockdown.

Secondly, Hearts could seek interdict to prevent the league starting. Whilst there’s no guarantee the court would grant this, if they did, would the Sky TV deal be adversely affected? How would clubs entering European competitions be affected? No competitive matches before European games?

Would Uefa suspend the participation of Scottish clubs until the proceedings were completed?

And if Hearts ask the court to ring fence £8 million to cover potential damages and costs, how would a club who voted yes feel when their payment from the SPFL was drastically reduced?

How do they tell their manager that his already meagre budget was being reduced?

And how would they react to a board who had the power to avoid all this yet refused to exercise it?

Would they seek to impose personal financial liability on each board director for wilful neglect of their corporate responsibility? Company law normally gives directors protection for losses of the company. This protection may not be available however if a director has acted wilfully and negligently to the obvious detriment of the company, in failing to avoid an obvious loss.

And what might James Anderson think of Scottish football putting self interest and vindictive insularity before the greater good, when even the SPFL rules oblige clubs to act “in the utmost good faith” to each other?

We should never have been here in the first place.

Responsibility for that lies with a board who failed to find a suitable solution when lockdown came.

They have an opportunity to remedy their mistake.

If enough clubs refuse to do the right and honourable thing, then the board must do so.

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