Hearts & Partick Thistle relegations confirmed by arbitration panel – BBC Sport

Hearts and Partick Thistle argued that they had been relegated unfairly

Hearts and Partick Thistle will be in the Scottish Championship and League One respectively this season after an arbitration panel decided not to overturn their relegations.

The clubs took legal action after being demoted when last term ended early.

They wanted the Court of Session to reverse the promotions of Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers and keep them up instead.

But a three-strong panel ruled that the SPFL were entitled to act as they did.

Hearts and Thistle also wanted up to £10m in compensation, but could now face paying costs, with arbitration continuing for “submissions about expenses”.

The two clubs have yet to comment on the outcome.

How did the SPFL react?

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster welcomed the “clear, comprehensive and unanimous decision”.

He added: “I am absolutely delighted that our approach has been vindicated throughout, following an intense period of legal scrutiny and review.

“It has been a very demanding process, but I had complete confidence in the actions and decisions of the SPFL board and the SPFL executive team.”

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan confirmed that three members of the organisation’s executive team were interviewed by the panel and thousands of pages of evidence were considered.

“I would fully expect all those involved to agree that no stone was left unturned, no allegation left unanswered,” he said, adding that he has sympathy for Hearts, Thistle, and Stranraer, who were also relegated but chose not to take legal action.

What about United, Raith & Cove?

The three clubs released similar statements in which they welcomed the decision and explained they got involved as they were “not prepared to stand by and watch” their promotions be reversed.

They said they had “absolutely no desire to enter into costly legal proceedings” but felt that they had to.

“Any suggestion that we entered proceedings without justification or to stoke division is both unjustified and insulting,” the clubs added.

How did we reach this point?

Hearts, Thistle and Stranraer were relegated on a points-per-game basis when the season was curtailed earlier this year.

That decision was taken after a controversial vote of all 42 clubs granted the SPFL board the power to do so.

After attempts at reconstruction the leagues, Hearts and Thistle filed a petition at the Court of Session, seeking either a reversal of the decision of compensation.

After a initial hearing earlier this month, Lord Clark decreed that an independent tribunal should hear the case under Scottish FA rules.

That started a week and a half ago, with both sides selecting a QC from an approved list, and agreeing on a chair.

That panel has deliberated over the evidence and delivered its conclusion – less than a week before the Premiership season is scheduled to start on 1 August.

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