Celtic declared nine-in-a-row Scottish champions as Hearts mull over legal action following relegation

Wed, May 20 2020

Glasgow Celtic have been confirmed as nine-in-a-row Scottish Premiership Champions after clubs agreed that the top-flight season could not be completed.

The top-flight in Scotland final standings has been determined by points per game in league matches played to 13 March 2020 by each club.

The decision means that Celtic are crowned 2019/20 champions and Hearts have been relegated to the Ladbrokes Championship.

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said: “Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to officially congratulate Celtic on their achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, and also to sincerely commiserate with Hearts on their relegation.

“We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters.

“This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the Board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: “On Friday, Ladbrokes Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from Season 2019/20. 

“This decision now enables us to pay out around £7 million in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time. We will begin processing these payments immediately.

“The focus of all those involved in the game will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible. 

“The 2020/21 League Season in all four of our Divisions is due to commence on 1 August, which coincides with the start of our new and exclusive five-year broadcasting deal with Sky Sports.”

However, Hearts have confirmed that they are seeking legal advice following the ruling made on Monday.

“We have stated from the outset that we don’t believe it is right that any club should be unfairly penalised because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a Hearts spokesperson said.  

“It was previously indicated that league reconstruction would not generate enough support to pass a vote between member clubs. 

“In recent days a number of positive talks have been held with both the SPFL and member clubs and this topic is currently being revisited.

“Hearts will shortly submit a member’s resolution that we believe is a pragmatic solution to the issues the game currently faces and a way forward that the clubs can unite behind.

“It is our belief that this resolution, if supported, will provide an opportunity to avoid disproportionately disadvantaging - financially and otherwise - any club. 

“This is possibly the final chance for our game to stand together, protect each other and not only survive but flourish in the aftermath of this terrible pandemic.

“Players from across all leagues have shown a desire for reconstruction and having already received support from some clubs we are hopeful that this resolution can positively progress Scottish football.

“As previously intimated the club has been taking legal advice throughout this process and are continuing to do so. We hope that the resolution being prepared will avoid the need to go down this route. 

“Legal action would be both time consuming and expensive. However, the cost to the club of relegation would outweigh these considerations.

To our supporters, we thank you for showing patience and continuing to back the club. We “will continue to fight against what we believe is an unjust outcome.”