Sports lawyer gives Hearts hope of overturning relegation

Ex-player David Winnie argues proper procedures were not adopted
Sports lawyer David Winnie is a former player and had a short spell at Hearts. Picture: SNSSports lawyer David Winnie is a former player and had a short spell at Hearts. Picture: SNS
Sports lawyer David Winnie is a former player and had a short spell at Hearts. Picture: SNS

Sports lawyer David Winnie feels Hearts have a chance of overturning their relegation in court.

The former St Mirren and Aberdeen defender believes there are several avenues Hearts can pursue if their case goes to court.

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Hearts and Partick Thistle lodged a petition at the Court of Session on Wednesday, with the Scottish Professional Football League having seven days to respond.

Both were consigned to relegation when clubs voted to terminate the season with their fates ratified this week when the final attempt at league reconstruction failed.

Winnie, pictured, who had a spell as a Hearts player, told Sky Sports: “Have they got a chance? Certainly. Is it 100 per cent? Definitely not. There’s a whole host of problems in front of them and it’s not certain by any manner of means that they will be successful.

“They could be losing anything up to £7-8 million, as I’m hearing, so the costs of that balanced against taking it to court, it’s a no-brainer.

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“The starting point of this was the resolution back in April. I don’t think proper procedures were adopted and I think Dundee’s initial vote should have stood.

“Secondly, the clubs have a duty under the SPFL regulations to act with the utmost good faith towards each other. In this whole debacle, have they done that? For example, Dundee voted no, and after conversations with other clubs, they have been persuaded to change their minds. So what’s gone on? Have the clubs acted towards each other in good faith? It’s debatable.

“And lastly, as a minority shareholder in the SPFL, Hearts could I think rightly say they have been prejudiced against, because they have been relegated on a points-per-game basis. Clubs have been in worse positions and escaped. In a legal context, the court would have to look at it as a whole. Under the circumstances, have Hearts been relegated unfairly? The way I see it it’s an objective test, and they have a chance.”

Hundreds of Hearts fans have joined fan-ownership vehicle Foundation of Hearts or increased their contribution since the club vowed to push ahead with legal action and the club have now invited direct donations by publishing bank details.

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A club statement read: “Everyone at Hearts would like to say a massive thank you to our fans for all of the remarkable level of support and passion that they have shown.

“Almost 7,000 of you have now purchased season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign. Foundation of Hearts has also had exceptional backing from fans, with new pledgers joining every day. Since football stopped there have been almost 2000 new pledges, increased pledges or one-off donations.”