Hearts and Thistle tell promoted clubs ‘our fight isn’t with you’

The clubs have responded to Dundee United and Raith Rovers asking for aid with legal costs.

Hearts and Partick Thistle have told promoted sides Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers they have no “direct dispute” in the fight over the end of the 2019/20 season.

The Scottish Professional Football League relegated Hearts, Thistle and Stranraer after member clubs voted to end the season early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When attempts to reconstruct the leagues failed, Hearts and Thistle took their fight against relegation to the Court of Session, where United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers opposed the move alongside the SPFL to protect the promotion they gained when the season was ended.

The matter has now been referred to a Scottish FA-convened arbitration hearing. United and Raith Rovers have since made public statements highlighting the legal costs they have incurred and asking for financial aid from fellow clubs.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, Hearts and Thistle say they believe the request for money from fellow clubs is wrong and will “create further division”, while arguing the promoted clubs needn’t be involved in the legal process as the SPFL is making their argument.

The statement read: “As a matter of urgency, we would like to clarify our position in relation to the role being played by Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers in our case against the SPFL.

“Those clubs were named in the Petition, along with Stranraer, because they are the clubs most likely to be impacted by a decision in our favour. We are not, and have never been, in direct dispute with them.

“The SPFL is opposing our Petition and will do so at the forthcoming arbitration.  Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were not therefore required to litigate or arbitrate against us.  However, they chose to do so. 

“For the avoidance of doubt, we accept that was a choice they were fully entitled to make, no doubt having been fully advised of the risks and costs.  We absolutely know and understand that was not a decision to be taken lightly.

“This is not about two clubs, Hearts and Partick Thistle, battling against other member clubs.

“This is about these two clubs battling against the organisation, which is meant to look after all of our interests, and holding them accountable for their prejudicial actions. We would contend that any club in our position would be taking similar action.

“However, encouraging clubs to fund anyone’s costs in this process could create further division.

“We consider such an approach to be at odds with the fundamental requirement of the SPFL rules that the SPFL and each club shall behave towards each other with the utmost good faith.  We cannot therefore let that pass without comment.”

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