Scottish football is just 10 days away from restarting – yet everything could still grind to a halt.
An SFA arbitration panel is deciding on Hearts and Partick Thistle’s bid to overturn their relegations, and depending on the verdict all the planning for the new season and the Premiership starting on August 1 could go up in smoke.
What happens if Hearts and Partick win and are reinstated? Everything will be thrown into turmoil.
The message it sends out would also be terrible. Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were the best teams in their respective leagues over the course of more than three-quarters of the season, but don’t get promoted.
Meanwhile, Hearts and Partick were both absolutely abysmal over the same period, but don’t get punished, while the three champions do.
Like it or not the Jambos and Jags need to accept it wasn’t possible to finish the 2019-20 campaign.
The Premiership clubs will start the new season behind closed doors and following the expensive testing protocols is costing the top-flight clubs a fortune.
In theory, the top flight may have been able to finish the season, but there’s no way the Championship, League One and League Two could have done the same.
The other major problem with trying to finish last term was the financial impact of delaying the new season.
From August 1, Sky are the exclusive live TV broadcasters of Scottish football with the five-year deal the most lucrative the game in this country has had for quite some time.
Finishing the 2019-20 campaign could have jeopardised the deal or resulted in the SPFL having to compensate Sky to the tune of millions for a potential breach of contract, something that would harm all member clubs because the cash would come out of their pot.
That threat still exists if Hearts and Partick are reinstated because the Jambos won’t be ready to start playing next weekend, which would mean a delay to the season – and Sky would surely be entitled to a refund if that happened. Again, this would hurt every SPFL club.
Hearts and Partick were on the wrong end of the vote to end last season due to their positions, but are determined they won’t go down.
They’ve already dragged Dundee United, Raith and Cove into an expensive legal fight, while reinstatement would hit the pockets of all the Premiership clubs, who have been back in training for five weeks, as well as harming every SPFL team if Sky require money back from the league.
Scottish football’s financial plight isn’t helped by the lack of a new league sponsor, but good luck finding one given the mess that’s unfolded since March.