SPFL seeks power to decide outcomes if Covid halts season

The league has asked clubs to reconsider handing the board extended powers.

Scottish clubs are being asked again to consider giving the league board powers to determine the fate of the season should the pandemic prevent completion.

The proposal was rejected in July but the Scottish Professional Football League believes some clubs have reconsidered their position and has launched a survey of all 42 members in order to elicit views.

Clubs will be asked how many matches they think should have to be played before final placings can be decided rather than a season being declared void.

Members will also be asked whether league games should be routinely forfeited if a club cannot fulfil a fixture, as happens in the Betfred Cup. This can only happen for league games if a disciplinary process finds clubs guilty of breaching protocols.

Last season was curtailed after a controversial vote of all members, with the decision unsuccessfully challenged in court by relegated Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer. Rangers also launched a failed bid to instigate an independent investigation into the process.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The fact that our rules did not expressly cover the situation where a season must be curtailed with a number of matches remaining to be played caused a great deal of uncertainty and delay in reaching a resolution last season. No-one wants to see that repeated.

“Many of our clubs support the principle of drawing up a set of protocols long before we get to the situation where league positions understandably influence the individual approach of clubs to these difficult situations.

“However, the proposal to allow the board a clearly specified and limited degree of authority to take action if we are unable to complete the season did not have sufficient support in the summer.

“Given the ongoing challenges caused to sport worldwide by Covid-19, several clubs have now indicated they have changed their position.

“The board wishes to establish if a sufficient number of clubs now wish to revisit this issue, so we can significantly reduce the uncertainty and division that arose towards the end of last season.”

Doncaster added: “If there is sufficient support to secure an amendment to the SPFL rules, then all clubs will know well in advance of any need to curtail the season what the outcome will be – so far as concerns league positions, promotion, relegation, play-offs, fees and qualification for UEFA competitions.

“The questionnaire is designed to assist the board in recommending a resolution to member clubs as a means of giving the SPFL board the express power to deal with any further Covid-19 related disruption to season 2020-21.”

Meanwhile, Kilmarnock have been accused of breaching the league’s coronavirus rules in the build-up to their postponed clash with Motherwell earlier this month, and will now face an SPFL disciplinary hearing.

Hampden chiefs launched an investigation after Killie were forced to call the game off after Alex Dyer’s team registered six positive tests, forcing the entire Rugby Park squad to quarantine.

The league body said in a statement: “The SPFL has today announced that disciplinary proceedings have been commenced against Kilmarnock FC. It is alleged that Kilmarnock FC breached the SPFL’s Covid-19 Regulations during the lead-up to their postponed League Match v Motherwell FC on Friday, 2 October.

“A hearing will be held before a Sub-Committee of the Board of the SPFL, chaired by an independent legally-qualified chair. The date of the hearing will be announced in due course.” 

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