Following Heart of Midlothian plc lodging a Notice of Intention to Appoint an Administrator with the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 17 June 2013, the SPL confirmed that a number of sporting sanctions have been applied to the club.
An SPL spokesperson said: “As Heart of Midlothian is subject to an Insolvency Event, a 15 point deduction will be applied to its total points in the League Championship for next Season 2013/14. In addition, Heart of Midlothian is subject to an embargo on Registering Players with the SPL whilst in administration.”
There are a couple of thoughts about this.
First of all, how does the change at some point before next season from the SPL to the SPFL affect this? If the 15 point penalty which is based on 1/3 of the points gained in the preceding season is an SPL rule (as it is) how does this carry across to the SPFL?
Secondly, an embargo on registering players with the SPL might only be effective for a couple of weeks, depending on when the SPFL officially comes into being.
Will Hearts have a say in approving the new SPFL rulebook, especially on the areas under which the SPL has penalised them?
At any meeting of the SPFL to approve the new rules, does Mr Jackson, administrator of Hearts, turn up with a Hearts strip and with a Dunfermline shirt too, so that everyone else knows which team he is representing at any point?
And could Dundee seek to challenge the SPL decision not to penalise Hearts for an “Insolvency Event” prior to the end of the season? After all, if administration had taken place before the season ended, Dundee would be in the SPL (or the Premier SPFL division) and Hearts would have been relegated.
“Sporting Integrity” was a phrase regularly used in connection with the Rangers fiasco. On one view, sporting integrity would demand that Hearts be penalised to the benefit of Dundee. Why?
Hearts have gained an advantage by not paying debts and by continuing to pay players it could not afford – as is seen by the administrators taking the decision to dispense with employees including players and for at least two players to volunteer for a pay cut. The regular failure to pay players’ wages was a sign that this was an issue.
It is therefore a clear and logical argument that Hearts stayed in the SPL as a result of their financial “wrongdoing”. If the team is still allowed to play in the top division next season, then it has benefited from its “crime” (of course the conduct is not criminal – I use it to indicate a rule breach).
Teams in the top division will receive significantly larger sums than teams lower down.
Why should the new owners of Hearts (if they are indeed sold) benefit from the elimination of debt and the high income from the top division?
Why should Dundee have to accept the lower rewards of the second tier when perhaps a financial splurge and a delayed administration could have kept them in the top league?
Some years ago the company which owned Leeds United went into administration right at the end of a season, having already been relegated. The plan was to have the points penalty imposed in the current season, and thus start the next season in the lower division with a clean slate.
However the English Football League saw through that, and imposed the penalty for the coming season anyway.
There would be something to be said for the new SPFL announcing that the rules are different from those of the SPL and SFL, and that administration prior to the start of a season means that the penalty is applied retrospectively WHERE THAT WOULD AFFECT PROMOTION AND RELEGATION.
In that case Dundee would be still in the top league, and maybe John Brown could be awarded a retrospective Manager of the Year Award!
Posted by Paul McConville