SPFL clubs vote against independent investigation into April vote

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan urged “all clubs to put their differences aside”

SPFL clubs rejected an independent investigation into April’s vote to end the lower-league season in Scotland.

Rangers, backed by Hearts and Stranraer, called Tuesday’s EGM and the support of 32 of the 42 clubs was needed for the resolution to pass.

Thirteen clubs backed an investigation, 27 were against and two abstained.

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said the game “cannot afford the distraction of further infighting or legal challenges”.

Aberdeen, Partick Thistle and Stenhousemuir publicly backed the resolution, while Celtic, Greenock Morton and Motherwell say they voted against. In total, four Premiership, one Championship and eight clubs from Leagues One and Two voted in favour of the resolution.

After coronavirus caused the suspension of football in March, clubs were balloted about ending the Championship and Leagues One and Two and awarding titles on an average points basis. The resolution also proposed giving the SPFL board the option to curtail the Premiership if it deems the 49 outstanding fixtures cannot be played.

Dundee had submitted a no vote which the league initially said was never received, before changing to a yes. Had Dundee voted no, the resolution would not have passed.

Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared winners of the second, third and fourth tiers while Partick Thistle, Stranraer and Brechin City finished bottom of those divisions.

The league commissioned auditors Deloitte to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dundee’s belatedly decisive vote, which found no evidence of wrongdoing. But Rangers said the scope was “too narrow”.

St Mirren’s win over Hearts on 11 March was the last time an SPFL game was played

Separately, a task force was set up to look at league reconstruction but a majority of Premiership clubs were against changing the 12-10-10-10 model to three larger divisions, meaning it would not get the required support at an all-42 club vote.

That blocked a potential reprieve from relegation for Thistle, Stranraer and likely Hearts, who are bottom of the Premiership. Hearts and Thistle have said they may pursue legal action.

MacLennan said after the result of Tuesday’s ballot about Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer’s call for an independent investigation: “The overwhelming majority of clubs voted to oppose this resolution and it’s now incumbent on all clubs to put their differences aside, otherwise we will all suffer together.

“I have taken careful note of the concerns expressed by the minority of clubs which voted in favour and when we are back to playing football in a safe environment, I will bring clubs together to discuss the lessons learned.”

‘Highly improbable that the story ends here’

BBC Scotland chief sports writer Tom English

And so the spin begins. Twenty-seven votes against having an independent inquiry and 13 votes for; 64% of clubs against the investigation into the SPFL’s corporate governance and 31% went in favour.

If you’re Neil Doncaster and the SPFL board you’re saying that enough clubs have spoken and this should be the end of the most divisive chapter in the history of the organisation. If you’re on the other side you’re pointing out that one third of the top flight want this examination to take place and that 40% of the First and Second Division clubs combined gave their backing to the inquiry.

Save for Inverness, the Championship was a wipeout for those who were calling for a probe into what went on or didn’t go on. The numbers are there to be interpreted and fought over – and they will be. Nothing will change there. We now know the result but, in a sense, we don’t know the endgame because it’s highly improbable that the story ends here regardless of the SPFL board wanting that to be the case.

Rangers said at the weekend “this episode is far from finished”. We await their next move. And their next statement. And the ones from different places that come in its wake. Seconds out. Round two.

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