Falkirk face a second season in League One as Premiership clubs veto SPFL reconstruction

Reconstruction talks for the league set-up in Scotland have been in vain after a meeting of top tier clubs today.

By David Oliver
Friday, 8th May 2020, 6:23 pm
Updated Friday, 8th May 2020, 10:24 pm
Falkirk Stadium will host Cove Rangers, Partick Thistle as well as welcoming Forfar, Peterhead and Clyde back among the league opposition next season.
Falkirk Stadium will host Cove Rangers, Partick Thistle as well as welcoming Forfar, Peterhead and Clyde back among the league opposition next season.

The proposals will not generate enough support to pass the requisite number of Premiership clubs who met today following weeks of talks and plans by a reconstruction taskforce which involved Falkirk chairman Gary Deans as part of the 14-strong panel of clubs and league representatives.

Today’s news means Partick Thistle and Stranraer will both be relegated and Falkirk will spend a second season in League One with no prospect of promotion as the play-offs were cancelled in last month’s controversial SPFL vote which also named Raith Rovers league winners with eight games of the season still to play.

It also means a Falkirk return for two ex-managers – Paul Hartley and Ian McCall – whose Cove Rangers and Partick Thistle sides will join the Bairns in League One.

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Gary Deans had been encouraged by the talks for change as recently as last week.

Mr Deans later released a statement on the club’s website saying: “Today’s announcement will not come as a huge surprise to Falkirk supporters who have, along with the rest of Scottish football, witnessed firsthand the utter shambles engulfing our game these last few weeks.

“As you know I have been working with the SPFL Reconstruction Group over recent weeks and I received a call late this afternoon (May 8) informing me that six Premier League clubs had indicated they would not support any league reconstruction at the present time.

“As a club we embarked upon this process with eyes wide open and tempered optimism, hoping that the SPFL and other clubs might see the bigger picture and act in the best interests of Scottish football. In fairness, some did see that bigger picture and approached talks in a constructive manner – but once again progress has been hampered by the short sightedness and self-preservation of a small cabal within Scotland’s top division.

“You will share my anger at this latest injustice, the failed promises and the general mismanagement that has occurred at the top of Scottish football for many years

“The handling of this entire situation has been farcical ranging from the decisions made by the SPFL board to those clubs who have, what could only be charitably described as, misled and deceived. The principle of ‘do no harm’ to Scottish football during the pandemic was thrown out of the window a long time ago and the decision taken today will cause harm to many clubs – Falkirk included.

“To add insult to injury to release a statement on a Friday evening adding to the stress of players, staff and the many people connected with football clubs is a sign of the blatant contempt that those in charge of our game hold for us all.

“I have already embarked upon discussions with other clubs who share my anger and we will be considering the next steps to take over the weekend. I will keep you informed as matters progress but for now the club has made it clear that we cannot support this unfair decision taken by six clubs and supported by those at the SPFL. Change is required.

“As a club we must do what we’ve always done, let our performances on the pitch do the talking, and with your support press on through the leagues and take our place in the top division where we can continue to lobby for the necessary change required in Scottish football.”

Last week Mr Deans held a positive outlook for a new league set-up in a video Q&A with The Falkirk Herald.

Last month he revealed his fury at the outcome of the SPFL vote but added the club had to “play a longer game and put faith in a process of league reconstruction. Some will argue that faith may be misplaced and I would not rush to disagree... past promises of league construction have come to nothing and our fingers have been burned before. But right now, it is the only game in town.”