Investigation finds no wrongdoing in SPFL's season-ending vote

SPFL's independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey said that she hopes attention will now be turned to ensuring clubs survive the economic hardship.

Celtic fans during the Scottish Premier League soccer match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox, Glasgow, Scotland. (File Photo)   -  AP

An independent investigation into the way the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) handled a controversial vote among its member clubs over ending the 2019-20 season has found “no evidence of improper behaviour”.

The SPFL board commissioned auditing firm Deloitte to examine the circumstances surrounding Dundee's vote after it came in for stinging criticism from Premiership clubs Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts who had called for an independent inquiry.

A resolution to end the Championship, League One and League Two needed the support of 75 percent of the clubs in the Premiership, Championship and the 20 teams in League One and Two.

The same proposal allows the SPFL board to also end the Premiership season if it deems the matches cannot be played due to the coronavirus crisis.

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Dundee originally planned to reject the resolution, but after an email of their vote on April 10 was not received by the SPFL, the Championship club backed the plan five days later with the deciding vote.

Rangers had called for the suspension of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster over the process.

However, the SPFL's independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey said in an open letter on Friday that she hopes attention will now be turned to ensuring clubs survive the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus shutdown.

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“Deloitte's examination of phone records, mobile communications (including texts) and email data has identified no evidence of improper behaviour by SPFL personnel concerning the submission of the Dundee FC vote,” said McCluskey.

“I hope that Scottish football will now focus on the significant issues that face our game, otherwise many clubs may not survive this period.

“We will have to be forward-thinking, and work collegiately to quickly present ideas and proposals to Scottish Government and others which will enable Scottish football to recover and progress.

“Make no mistake, this is a critical time for all clubs, and we must concentrate on what is important to the future of our game.”

- Hearts want cuts -

The decision to end the season meant the SPFL was able to distribute almost £2 million ($2.4 million) of funding to clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two in prize money.

Meanwhile, Hearts owner Ann Budge has told players they must accept pay cuts or receive no money while football remains suspended.

There is a clause in Scottish Professional Football League contracts which allows clubs to cancel payments if football is suspended for any reason.

Hearts captain Steven Naismith offered to take a 50 per cent wage cut more than a month ago and manager Daniel Stendel is working for nothing, but Budge wants wholesale cuts.

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“In my conversations with the playing squad, I outlined that the most judicious approach for the club -- considering all available information -- would be to implement a temporary reduction in player salary, with a proposed percentage based on earnings ranging from 10 per cent to 30 per cent,” she said.

“In those same conversations, and subsequent discussions with PFA Scotland, I outlined the rationale and also explained why a deferral is simply not an option for the club.

“I wish there was an option other than a temporary wage cut but after careful consideration it is the only way for the club to proceed with financial certainty.”

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