After what feels like months of claim and counterclaim, the SPFL’s extraordinary meeting into their handling of the ballot to end the Scottish lower-league season takes place on Tuesday.
But what is this all about again? What needs to happen? And will this be the end of it? BBC Scotland attempts to clear some of the confusion…
What is this meeting all about?
Where to begin?
On 24 April, Rangers – backed by Hearts and Stranraer – requested a vote on having an independent inquiry into the league’s ballot to declare title winners and relegate teams in the Championship, League One and League Two.
It looked like the league’s season-ending proposal would fail until Dundee belatedly – and decisively – reneged on their initial no vote. That sequence of events was subject to an investigation by Deloitte, which found nothing amiss.
Rangers said it “alarmingly failed to examine wider fundamental issues” and claimed to have a “dossier of evidence”.
That was made available last Thursday and claimed the SPFL did not tell clubs of a potential £10m liability to sponsors and broadcasters, among other things.
However, in rebutting the claims in that dossier, the league urged their members to vote against holding an investigation, saying the cost to the game would be “incalculable” both in terms of cost and the delay it would cause in dealing with preventing clubs going to the wall.
Rangers have since offered to fund the inquiry and say they have received messages of support from other clubs.
How will the vote work?
Given the three-club threshold was met, the meeting was approved and will begin at 11:00 BST on Tuesday by way of a 42-club video call.
A total of 32 must back the proposal if an independent inquiry is to be sanctioned, and that number must include:
- At least nine of 12 Premiership clubs
- At least eight of 10 Championship clubs
- At least 15 of the 20 clubs from Leagues One and Two
Aberdeen and Partick Thistle have already confirmed they will vote in favour, and it would seem likely that Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer would do the same. Furthermore, the likes of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir have all been vocal critics of the process.
It is understood that a handful of proxy ballots have been received in advance of the meeting, but it is unclear from which clubs and whether or not they were in favour.
The result should be confirmed by 15:00 BST, but the general consensus seems to be that the 75% mark will prove out of reach.
And if that threshold is not met..?
The request for an independent inquiry fails. Officially, at least.
But what if, say, 50% of clubs vote in favour? Would that put pressure on the SPFL to accede to an investigation? And how would that work? That remains unclear, as does what would happen if the 75% mark was reached.
Furthermore, Rangers, Hearts and Partick Thistle have all spoken of exploring the possibility of legal action – with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne even mentioned at one stage.
One way or another, it seems fanciful to think that all involved will wish each other well at the end of Tuesday’s meeting and agree to move on.