Neil Doncaster: SPFL chief executive says clubs will 'suffer' if legal action taken

Neil Doncaster
Doncaster (right) says there were "robust exchages" between some clubs

Clubs will suffer if legal action is taken against the SPFL in the wake of the vote to end the lower leagues, says league chief executive Neil Doncaster

Hearts will consider a "formal challenge" if they are relegated should the Scottish Premiership be curtailed.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park would not rule out further action if their resolution for an independent investigation is rejected by clubs.

Members will vote on their proposal on Tuesday.

"Legal action against the league is ultimately legal action against the clubs," Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme.

"The league itself is purely a competition the clubs play in and the money that is distributed to clubs belongs to all the clubs.

"If any clubs wishes to take action against the league they can do so but ultimately it's all clubs who suffer because of it."

Rangers' requisition for an inquiry needs the support of 32 of the other 41 members of the SPFL.

After the Ibrox side sent a dossier of evidence against the SPFL to clubs on Thursday, Doncaster said the league and its staff had "absolutely" followed due process but acknowledged "mistakes were made" in the time given to clubs to consider the proposals.

In response to the release of Rangers' documents, the league said on Friday there was not "a single shred of evidence" to support claims of bullying or coercion.

Doncaster repeated that no formal complaint was made to him about bullying, but did say he was made aware of "robust exchanges" between clubs.

"A number of people expressed concerns about the language that was used," he said.

"There was a suggestion that if the resolution didn't go through then there might be an attempt to change the [payment] distribution mechanism in the Championship and perhaps make it an equal share.

"That is the sort of discussion you expect to go on. That's what happens when you've got these rough, tough business people involved in the game. That's wholly different from someone making a formal complaint or allegation of bullying, and that hasn't happened.

"I would encouraged anyone who feels they've been bullied by anyone to come forward and report it. It'll be investigated and dealt with in the proper way."

Rangers claimed the league failed to make clubs aware of a potential £10m liability to sponsors and broadcasters before the vote to end the season and give the SPFL board the power to curtail the Premiership.

Doncaster rebutted that claim, stating: "Any liability that any league around Europe may face is down to any inability it may have to play games.

"That's caused entirely by the Covid-19 crisis and in our case by the government regulation that makes clear there can't be football until after 10 June at the earliest.

"The resolution didn't trigger any liability, £10m or otherwise. It's not linked to the vote."

Hearts, Falkirk and Partick Thistle, some of the clubs most adversely affected by a premature end to the season, criticised the collapse of league reconstruction talks after Premiership clubs could not find a way forward.

The SPFL executive was not involved in that meeting, but a reconstruction taskforce had been set up to examine how the leagues could be changed to minimise harm to clubs.

Asked if he felt reconstruction was now off the agenda, Doncaster said: "I don't think so. It is a matter for the members.

"It was always going to be a difficult challenge. I do think there is a genuine open-mindedness about reconstruction but clearly people felt that now wasn't the time to be going down that route."

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