The Scottish Premier League (SPL) is to release their fixture list on Monday July 5, for the forthcoming 2020/21 season. However, the release is not without contention.
Last week, Hearts of Midlothian suffered a setback in their bid to remain in the SPL. Hearts, brought a legal challenge against the Scottish Football League (SPFL) to overturn their relegation from the SPL. They were joined in the action by Partick Thistle, who were also seeking a reversal of their relegation from the Scottish Championship.
SPL to Release Fixtures Despite Hearts’ Fight
SPFL Going to Arbitration
The case was heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. However, the court ruled that it is not a matter for them. Instead, they have referred it to arbitration. This is similar to a court setting, but is not open to the public.
Hearts, Partick and the SPFL will present the same case in arbitration, as they would in court. After hearing the evidence, an independent panel will then make a ruling. This ruling is final and cannot be appealed against.
SPL Fixture Complications
The arbitration hearing is expected to begin next week, as a matter of urgency. However, Monday is also the day that the SPL releases their fixtures for next season.
Should Hearts win their case, then they will remain in the SPL. This will see Dundee United denied promotion. The 11 other clubs, whose SPL status is confirmed, are unaffected. Although tomorrow’s fixture release could still cause problems to them.
Dundee United’s name will be listed when the fixtures are released. The most obvious solution is to swap United’s name for Hearts. Yet, not only is this unfair on United’s supporters, but it is probably impractical due to policing and other factors.
Should Dundee United be forced to remain in the Championship, then their season will not commence until October. Currently, they are planning for the SPL’s start date of August 1st.
Another outcome is that Hearts and Partick’s relegation is confirmed, but they receive compensation from the SPFL. Hearts are seeking £8 million, while Partick want £2 million.
It could take up to three weeks for the Arbitration Panel to make a final decision. Add this time-scale to today’s date, and it nearly reaches August. Therefore, the fixture list could require a rewrite just days before the season commences.
The one definite is that without doubt, the whole saga is a mess.
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