Peterhead boss Jim McInally insists Ann Budge is wrong to claim her reconstruction proposal would mean no clubs are disadvantaged.
The Hearts chair submitted her idea to rejig the current Scottish League set-up to clubs on Tuesday.
Her proposal to switch to a 14-14-14 or 14-14-16 structure Budge claimed would “ensure no teams are further disadvantaged due to Covid-19.”
However, her plan would mean League One sides Clyde (seventh), Peterhead (eighth), Forfar (ninth) and Stranraer (10th) would be relegated to the new bottom tier and League Two champions Cove Rangers would be denied promotion.
Although it would still be League One these clubs would only be one step away from dropping out of the SPFL pyramid, whereas with League One in it’s current form they are two steps away from that.
Blue Toon gaffer McInally, Scotland’s longest-serving manager, said: “It’s just not true (that clubs wouldn’t be disadvantaged), it’s just shows a total disregard for other clubs.
“I know she’ll come out and say we’re still in the same league because there will only be three leagues and it will still be League One.
“But no matter what way she wants to look at it it’s still a relegation.
“Nationally there’s hardly a mention of it because nobody seems to care about Peterhead, Cove, Clyde, Forfar and Stranraer.
“I hope everyone involved will fight this because she’s shown no regard for part-time football and part-time clubs.
“Hopefully we can make her pay the price for that. Nobody wants Hearts to relegated.
“But if it comes down to Hearts being relegated rather than Clyde, Peterhead, Forfar or Stranraer or Cove being denied promotion then we need to fight and show she can’t come and bully us.”
McInally believes Budge’s whole outlook on the issue is based on trying to save her own side Hearts from relegation.
Peterhead would have preferred to see a 14-10-10-10 structure which would save the teams effected by relegation, promote Cove and bring Highland League champions Brora Rangers and Lowland League winners Kelty Hearts into the pyramid.
McInally added: “It doesn’t sit comfortably with me that Ann Budge has been in charge of this.
“Self-interest is the biggest problem when it comes to any major decision in any business in any walk of life.
“So to put her in charge of something that directly affects her football club was the wrong thing to do for a start.
“I’m still sympathetic to Hearts’ cause, but I don’t see why when she can look at 14-14-14 why we couldn’t go 14-10-10-10 – I would love to get an explanation for that.”
Budge also wrote in her proposal that a 14-14-14 structure may allow for competitions to continue if some clubs need to be mothballed next season.
It appears Championship, League One and League Two clubs would be unable to play behind closed doors, however discussions have taken place about a possible restart in October when less testing may be required and some fans be may allowed into grounds.
McInally said: “I don’t know if she’s read or heard anything I’ve said and when I speak about behind closed doors not being possible that’s not what I wanted, but it’s the reality.
“And there are other solutions available. There have been discussions about a possible October restart where we might be able to get fans in.
“She’s seized on this talk of mothballing – that would have been a last resort. We’ve been realistic in saying behind closed doors and playing with all the testing isn’t on she’s jumped on it to totally disregard everyone except the elite clubs in Scotland.”
Comment: Is Budge’s proposal fair?
Ann Budge’s reconstruction proposal will be debated by clubs next week.
Divisional meetings, beginning with the Premiership on Monday, will take place to discuss the Hearts supremo’s plan for a rejig of the Scottish League set-up.
Budge sent out her document suggesting a league structure of 14-14-14 or 14-14-16 for the next two seasons.
The SPFL held a board meeting yesterday and a spokesman said: “The board has now received Ann Budge’s paper to clubs on the topic of league reconstruction.
“As these matters are ultimately decided by clubs via a democratic process, we will now facilitate a series of divisional meetings, starting with the Premiership on Monday, at which all 42 clubs will have the chance to discuss the proposals in detail.”
Many clubs both publicly and privately have already expressed their grievances about Budge’s proposal.
It appears she has brought forward this plan herself, without the consultation of the 15-person taskforce set up to consider reconstruction.
The fairness of the plan is another issue. When reconstruction was first mentioned the remit was to ensure no clubs were disadvantaged after the 2019-20 season had to end early.
But many are now asking how it’s fair that Hearts can’t be relegated to the Championship, yet Peterhead, Clyde and Forfar could be demoted to the bottom tier and Cove Rangers can win League Two but remain in the lowest division?