Sharks and Shirking Responsibility

“Exclusively in today’s Evening Times…”

Good Afternoon

I see The Evening Times’ finest has been out jumping sharks again, following last night’s statement from Sevco:


“Chris Jack ‏@Chris_Jack89: Can’t see the problem with RFC pricing decision. Doing what is best for their fans. Hibs set the precedent. SPFL rule & 50% cut is a nonsense

So there you have it folks. Sevco are right to ignore a rule because it is a nonsense and because it enables them to do the “best for their fans”. Leaving aside the spurious point about Hibs, who approached the SPFL regarding their intentions last year, has Mr Jack seriously thought about the implications of what he is saying? [NB that sound you can here is a “rhetorical question” alarm].

One of many alarms in Clumpany Towers
One of many alarms in Clumpany Towers

But in order to help Chris and anyone nodding their head in agreement with him, here are some questions:

  • Were the Discounted Options Scheme, the numerous tribunal-conceded EBTs, side-letters, and flouting of player registration rules acceptable? After all, they were “best for their fans” as they allowed trophies to be won using players that couldn’t otherwise be afforded?
  • Was not paying taxes during the 2011-12 season acceptable? After all, it was “best for their fans” as it allowed the Rangers roadshow to keep rolling to the end of the season?
  • Was stiffing 276 creditors acceptable? After all, it was “best for their fans” as it allowed the [*cough*] “same club” (sic) to continue without any responsibility for “its” debts?

I sometimes wonder whether the Sevco reportage from some parts of the MSM is so breathless because it is being produced in something akin to a (moral) vacuum…

In the priorities of the MSM, is respect for the rules sometimes at risk of coming a poor second to simply regurgitating a statement from the Sevco website?

“Move along please, nothing to see here…”

The play-off system, its timings, and financial rules are (to say the least) somewhat less than perfect. They certainly aren’t aided by the SPFL’s calamitous handling of minor matters like fixture dates. But the rules by which they are governed were agreed to by the clubs themselves.

If a club doesn’t like the rules, there are channels for trying to effect change or obtain a dispensation.

Hibs approached the SPFL about allowing season ticket holders into their home play-off game for “free” last year, and the SPFL ultimately agreed that they would take no action for breaching the rule.

At the recent SPFL AGM, Hibs and others tried to secure a change to the rules on the distribution of play-off revenues. However they failed. And moved on.

Hearts, Hibs and Falkirk kicked up a fuss about the scheduling of the final round of Championship fixtures – which had huge potential consequences for the play-offs. They contacted the SPFL in ‘concerned fashion’ and the league caved in to the pressure (with the gracious consent of Sky, of course!).

What none of these clubs did was simply issue a statement saying that they were going to look after fans, and ignore a rule, based on a precedent that may or may not apply directly to the particular circumstances of this year’s play-offs.

Simply nodding in approval at the sound of a club saying it will ignore a rule does nothing for the credibility of the MSM or game itself.

“I agree entirely with the Sevco statement”

Separate from this point of principle about the observance of rules, there is also the small matter of their purpose. This surely has to be considered before sounding off about them?

As the STV chaps on Twitter pointed out this morning, there is a rationale for these rules.

JB Tweets GR Tweets

It is worth noting there is a suggestion that Motherwell and Hibs may also offer “free entry” to season ticket holders for the home leg of play-off ties. If that is the case then they should also seek dispensation from the SPFL rather than acting unilaterally.


The SPFL has yet to comment on this matter. It would make a mockery of the rulebook and the SPFL itself if member clubs declared an intention to ignore a rule, and the governing body took no action.

The Mail article suggests that “SPFL lawyers have already warned clubs that attempts to do the same this season will be strongly resisted as it would constitute a breach of league rulesIt will be interesting to see what happens. Surely the SPFL would never stand idly by while it was made to look foolish?

Hi Neil!

Would it?!


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