Hearts owner Ann Budge claims SPFL tried to ‘unduly influence’ season-ending vote

Hearts owner Ann Budge has suggested that the SPFL tried to “unduly influence” the outcome of a vote by its members on whether to effectively bring an end to the Scottish domestic season.

The SPFL’s contentious resolution to end the season in three divisions and potentially the Premiership rests on a technicality over the vote of Championship side Dundee, amid a huge fallout between the governing body and Rangers, particularly over the voting process.

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Hearts, who are bottom of the Scottish Premiership and would be relegated under the SPFL’s proposal, which Budge believes could cost them “£2.5m-£3m in lost income next year”, have confirmed that they voted against the resolution on Friday.

In a statement on Sunday, Budge said the SPFL insisted that passing their resolution was the only way of releasing much-needed funds to clubs – a position which prompted a response from Rangers – and argued that to ask members to “vote on one option only” in a short space of time was “totally unreasonable”.

She said: “In my earlier statement, I also indicated that I did not accept the position being argued by the SPFL that the only way to make much-needed funds available to members was to pass this Resolution. It is difficult not to argue that linking the vote in this way to releasing funds, was an attempt to unduly influence the outcome of the vote.

“A number of clubs were angered by this approach, and as has been well publicised, Rangers promptly pulled together a Resolution, which if passed, could have seen funds able to be released to clubs immediately. This would have removed any suggestion that a club’s financial situation could be a possible influencer in the vote.

“The fact that such an important matter was not properly addressed by the SPFL, in advance of the vote, is hugely disappointing.

“My observations are that if the SPFL genuinely wanted to work with member clubs to find a solution to the matter of releasing funds they could and should have reverted both more timeously and more helpfully.”

Budge also says the SPFL included notes on six possible options for deciding the outcome of the season but claims the “language used is different” when it came to the body explaining why it believes its own solution is most suitable over others.

“Instead of talking in terms of something being arbitrary or unfair or damaging, as is done when discussing other options, the language changes to talk of how this is the fairest method of determining the final League positions,” Budge said in the statement.

“Clearly, this is a subjective judgement. It suggests that the Board has made a decision and simply wish now to convince the members to accept that decision. This is not, in my view, how you honour the principle that it is up to the members to decide how to ensure the fairest approach is taken.

“The Board has clearly discussed and considered various options. This is exactly what we would expect of the Board. However, to then dismiss all but one option and present only this option for a members vote, within a very limited timescale, must surely raise the question of whether the Board is attempting to unduly influence the members’ decision-making process.”

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