SPFL play-offs: Hibs deny 'cash grab' in gate receipts dispute

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Sport
Tony Andreu's goal helped Hamilton beat Hibs in the play-offs last season
Tony Andreu's goal helped Hamilton beat Hibs in the play-offs last season

Hibernian insist that they are not involved in a "cash grab" with a proposal to change the rules over the distribution of play-off funds.

All 42 Scottish Professional Football League clubs will vote on 23 April on a motion from Hibs, their Edinburgh rivals, Hearts and Motherwell.

The three clubs want to halve the amount of Premiership play-off gate receipts going to the league.

League bosses have recommended that the clubs vote against the proposal.

Motherwell, who are second bottom in the top flight, and Hibs, who sit second in the Championship, could both be involved in a series of play-offs for a place in the Premiership next season.

But Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster said: "No club will receive less from the play-off levy this season than they did last season.

"This is possible because the board of the SPFL has negotiated a live TV broadcasting deal for the Premiership play-off matches - all six games could be broadcast - at a match fee which is just 10% of what clubs receive from televised Scottish Cup ties.

"The TV deal has been approved by the Premiership clubs, but only one Premiership club will feature and the Championship clubs whose home gates could be affected by live TV were not consulted and didn't have a vote.

"All clubs benefitted from the levy last season and will continue to benefit this season."

The rules governing the play-offs were agreed by clubs - including Hibs, Hearts and Motherwell - two years ago, when the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League merged to form the SPFL.

Current rules state that 50% of the cash generated through gate receipts goes to the SPFL, with every club not involved in the games getting a share.

Motherwell's Craig Moore holds off Paul Hanlon
Motherwell and Hibs could face one another in an end-of-season play-off final

It was designed to reduce the financial impact on the 42 clubs by paying parachute payments for a possible two clubs being relegated from the Premiership.

Hibs' proposal would reduce that to 25% and the difference in cash distributed could be as much as £500,000.

Dempster said: "The debate began in October when the board of the SPFL sought to introduce minimum pricing for play-off matches and to change the rules to state that season tickets were not valid.

"We disagree, because we believe clubs should be allowed the flexibility to deal with their season ticket holders as they think best."

Dempster pointed out that the Scottish FA was presently funding the parachute payment and said: "In those circumstances, all the levy does is take money paid by supporters to watch the team they support and redistribute that to every other team in the league.

"Any club which can imagine itself in that situation would say that was unfair."

The SPFL says that, as result of opposition from clubs, it will withdraw its proposal to prohibit admission via season tickets and impose minimum prices.

However, its board recommends rejecting Hibs' proposal, arguing that it is wrong to make a change that benefits only a few clubs at such a late stage in the season.

Meanwhile, Hibs say that Premiership clubs benefit most from the levy, with the champions earning 50 times as much as the winners of League Two.