The Scottish football season is set to be scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Celtic set to be crowned champions and Hearts relegated to the second tier as clubs vote to finish the season as it stands.
Scottish football’s leading clubs met with the league’s governing body on Wednesday to discuss the possibility, resulting in a decision for a vote to take place on whether the campaign should finish as it stands – with places allocated on a points-per-game basis.
The vote would need nine of the 12 representative Premiership clubs to vote in favour of the decision, however, the Scottish Professional Football League are confident of the decision passing when votes are collected before the start of next week.
Unsurprisingly, bottom club Hearts are strongly opposed to the verdict, threatening legal action should they be relegated from the top flight.
Hearts owner Ann Budge has publicly declared the club will not be voting in favour, believing a restructuring of the divisions would be more fitting for an ’emergency situation’ that ‘needs actions befitting an emergency situation’.
Speaking on the decision to end the season prematurely, she said: “I firmly believe we must try to find a solution which ensures that no club should be penalised as a consequence of these exceptional circumstances.”
The Edinburgh side are currently four points adrift of safety with eight games remaining, and will be joined in campaigning for a full and complete season by Rangers – currently second in the title race but some 13 points behind leaders Celtic.
A statement from the Ibrox side reads: “It is abhorrent that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the current SPFL proposals were implemented.
“The consequences of forcing through change without due care and attention will have severe consequences for the Scottish game.”
The decision to finalise the season on a points-per-game basis would see only one change to the current Scottish Premier League table, with Hibernian and St Johnstone – currently sixth and seventh – changing places.
In addition, Dundee United will return to the top flight after a four-season absence given their current status as leaders of the Scottish Championship, whilst Partick Thistle would be relegated to the third tier.
An SPFL statement, however, has also refused to rule out the possibility of restructuring the divisions, detailing potential plans for a 14-team Premiership ahead of next season to avoid sanctioning the relegations.
“If the resolution is approved, the SPFL has also committed to consulting with clubs over the possibility of league restructuring ahead of season 2020-21.”