Tribunal expected to start next week as Dundee United, Raith Rovers & Cove Rangers continue defence against Hearts/Partick

Promoted clubs vow to go ahead despite legal costs

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 1:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 3:18 pm
The SFA arbitration process is being used at the request of Lord Clark QC.

Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers will continue their legal defence against Hearts and Partick Thistle, with an independent tribunal expected to begin next week.

The Raith chairman Bill Clark confirmed today that the three promoted clubs have agreed to challenge Hearts and Thistle, who want relegations overturned and promotions blocked from last season.

In the Court of Session last week, Lord Alistair Clark QC referred the case to the Scottish Football Association’s arbitration process. A three-person independent panel is now being arranged to hear the case.

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United, Raith and Cove complained earlier this week of the significant legal cost of defending themselves. They appealed to every other club and to the general public for help with funding.

They have now decided to proceed with their defence. Hearts and Partick want their relegations reversed and if not are seeking £8million and £2million in compensation respectively.

“Things haven’t changed, the three clubs will continue to defend themselves. We will be at the tribunal which we expect to start next week sometime,” said Raith chairman Clark, speaking to the Fife Free Press.

“It was a joint decision we made together, we looked at all the aspects of it and did a scoping of the pluses and minuses and decided we had to go ahead with it and defend our position.

“We have been dragged in to this, it was not our intention to be dragged in to a legal dispute but because Hearts and Partick served us with the petition we felt we had to respond to it.

“We carried out a risk analysis and we are going forward.”

Clark pointed out that the dispute will be judged on whether the Scottish Professional Football League broke company law during the controversial vote which ended the 2019/20 campaign early.

“I think it’s 50/50 to be honest,” explained Clark. “It’s not being determined on football, it’s being determined on company law – whether the SPFL have broken any law and whether the clubs have voted for Hearts and Partick to be relegated in a manner which was prejudiced against them.

“It’s all in company law, not really anything about the rights and wrongs football wise, it’s a question of did we as SPFL shareholders vote in a prejudiced way.

“Hearts and Partick’s QC has asked for a whole lot of documentary evidence about decisions that were made going right back to the first resolution when 81 per cent of clubs agreed the league should finish.

“The main thing they will get at is the SPFL and the Dundee vote and whether that was legal or not which could affect our position.

“We have had a fair amount of support from other clubs in Scotland across saying they would support us financially if need be.

“Dundee United on behalf of all three clubs are starting a joint crowdfunding page. Between the money we’ve put in and the money we hope to get from other clubs, that should make us secure.”

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