Soccer

Scottish clubs set for crucial vote on ending season

Reuters, AFP-Jiji

The Scottish soccer season was suspended until at least June 10 on Thursday as clubs prepared to vote on a Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) resolution to end the season immediately in the lower divisions.

All matches in Scotland were originally halted on March 13 until at least April 30 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With no resumption now for at least two months, the odds on the first-division Scottish Premier League, not just the three lower divisions, not completing are shortening.

On Friday at 4:00 p.m. all Scotland's 42 professional clubs will get to vote digitally via conference call on the SPFL's proposal to end the Championship, League One and League Two immediately and do likewise with the Premiership if and when it becomes clear the season cannot be completed.

Under the SPFL plan, final positions would be allocated on an average points-per-game basis.

It is unlikely to be a clear-cut vote, with the likes of Rangers, Hearts and Partick Thistle set to oppose the plans, while clubs such as Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers, all top of their respective divisions and standing to gain, likely to vote in favor.

The Premiership, which Celtic lead by 13 points from Rangers, will not be called off until April 23, the earliest date UEFA would accept the abandonment of top divisions.

An earlier decision to abandon the season could lead to exclusion from European competition, leaving the continent's less wealthy leagues — like Scotland — in limbo.

The existing broadcast contract for the Scottish Premiership is reportedly worth a total of just £21 million ($22.7 million) annually.

Clubs can therefore little afford to miss out on European competition, with even those who do not participate eligible for solidarity payments from UEFA.

Hearts, bottom of the table, has threatened legal action if the season ends early and it is relegated while Rangers has described it as "abhorrent" that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the SPFL proposals are implemented.

Partick Thistle, bottom of the second-tier Championship by only two points with a game in hand, said they will not accept the SPFL proposal "as it stands."

However, with clubs suffering from a lack of match-day turnover the SPFL proposal could prove attractive as it would allow prize money to be paid early.

To pass, the SPFL proposal requires the approval of nine of the 12 Premiership clubs, eight of the 10 Championships clubs and 15 of 20 clubs in League One and Two.

"The message is very clear," said Scottish FA president Rod Petrie. "The government restrictions introduced to save lives must be adhered to and there is no prospect of an early resumption of training, let alone organized football in Scotland for several weeks."

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