Hearts owner Ann Budge feels SPFL reconstruction task force was disrespected

Hearts owner Ann Budge has accused her Premiership counterparts of being “appallingly disrespectful”, after her task force’s plan to restructure the Scottish football pyramid was dismissed.

Budge has threatened to take further action if a cancellation of the top-flight season is announced, with the Championship, League One and League Two having already ended early.

  • SPFL reconstruction plans scrapped
  • Hearts players accept wage cuts

Budge had hoped to convince clubs to accept a revamped three-division system, which would have swollen the top-flight to 14 teams and allowed Inverness to be promoted, while those in relegation trouble across the Scottish Professional Football League – including Hearts – would retain their current status.

But on Friday it was announced that the reconstruction plans had been scrapped, with the clubs feeling it was “not the right time” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearts are currently four points adrift in the Premiership table and are therefore now facing the drop if it is decided to end the season without playing any more matches.

In a lengthy statement on Saturday, Budge said in part: “No matter what the task force was able to agree, it was always going to fail if the Premiership would not agree to enlarge the top tier.

“Yesterday, it was made very clear that a number of clubs were not prepared to do so and nor were they prepared or interested in discussing the matter further.

“I intimated at the start of the meeting that I had prepared a paper, which I planned to send to them following the meeting, which outlined my arguments in writing as to why they should agree to expand the league.

“They were determined, however, to take a vote as they didn’t want this topic to carry forward to the next meeting.

“This is so appallingly disrespectful to everyone on the task force.”

Budge rejected suggestions her plan had been motivated by self-interest, adding: “It is fundamentally wrong that any club should be unfairly penalised by exceptional decisions that have had to be taken to deal with the current crisis.

“I would stand by that view, regardless of Hearts’ own position.

“If something is wrong, it is wrong and we should all be doing our utmost to correct that wrong.

“To pour more financial hardship on specific clubs, given what we are all going through both now and for the foreseeable future, is both outrageous and shameful.”

Partick Thistle and Stranraer have already had their relegations confirmed from their respective divisions, and non-league champions Buckie Thistle and Kelty Hearts have been denied a chance at promotion.

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