This post builds on the two most recent on the site. Again, promotion and relegation is the central issue. It is this that is, and will continue, to pose the greatest level of difficulty for sports administrators in the wake of Covid-19.
Earlier this week I argued that leagues would be better off finishing 2019/20 before attempting to start 2020/21, whenever that may be. Those in Scotland think otherwise.
The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has now voted to end a number of domestic leagues. This decision covers the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tiers of Scottish football and means various clubs will be promoted and relegated based on current league position, even though the seasons were all cut short.
Enter Heart of Midlothian (Hearts). The Edinburgh club are currently bottom of the Scottish Premiership. While the SPFL decision is not currently in place for the Premiership (1st tier), Hearts must fear it will be extended in time if things do not improve in the UK. A ready-made replacement is now waiting in the wings. Dundee United have now been promoted from the 2nd tier following the decision to end the season and will expect a place in the Premiership in 2020/21.
Fearing that Hearts will be the one to drop out, Hearts owner Ann Budge has said:
"I have said from the outset that it was imperative that we find a solution that ensures no club is penalised by relegation in a situation where the leagues cannot be finished. The financial consequences are enormous."
It is hard not to have sympathy with Budge. However, the sentence also holds for the soon-to-be promoted Dundee United. The financial consequences of not being promoted are enormous.
Something has to give. I get the feeling sports lawyers in Scotland are going to be extra busy very soon!