THE PAUL CHALK COLUMN
Saturday, May 16
FOLLOWING my column on Tuesday regarding Caley Thistle’s explosive Sunday statement, the war of words didn’t let up.
In a time when hundreds of people nationwide continue to lose their lives due to coronavirus, the actions of many big-hitting chiefs at small and large football clubs has been downright disgraceful. There are people telling the truth, voting with the best intentions, often with their own club as their individual priorities. There is nothing wrong or shocking about that.
However, the flipside is lots of chairmen and chief executives are “at it”. Some may be saying one thing in public and another behind closed doors. Who do we believe? And while all this went on, what about the bigger picture. Will there even be fans allowed into matches when football eventually resumes? And if so, what numbers will be permissible?
Caley Thistle voted against the original SPFL resolution, which led to payments paid out for the placings of where each side was when the action was halted by the pandemic in mid-March. That meant as ‘runners-up’, the Highlanders netted the second biggest prize amount, reportedly around £176,000. The chances of ICT going up to the Premiership as a result of league reconstruction are all but zero, despite some stories suggesting a shocking change of tune from top-flight clubs who were mostly against an expanded 14-side division.
Any day now Celtic will finally be crowned as champions for the ninth season in succession thanks to their 13-point advantage over Rangers. Hearts, at the other end of the table, will drop down to join Caley Thistle in the Championship. Tuesday’s vote at the virtual EGM over whether the Rangers-Hearts-Stranraer-led shout for a new independent inquiry into the behaviour and workings of the SPFL failed to hit the 75 per cent required to get that particular ball rolling.
The fact 13 clubs overall wanted the inquiry to happen should lead to a press for change in some aspects of the SPFL, however 27 were against it, wanting us to roll up our sleeves and get a conclusion to this season, one way or another. The ‘he says, she says’ nature of club statements being fired out like bullets aiming to wound is disheartening. Caley Thistle supporters will hope their clubs words are delivered with genuine honesty.
Not only did Dunfermline shoot back in fury at them last week, so did Morton, supposedly many of the rivals of Inverness are irked by their comments throughout this entire saga. Remember ICT chief executive Scot Gardiner was quick out of the traps to call out Dundee over their intention to vote against that original SPFL resolution. My first thought was ‘well done’ as Dundee were wrong to swiftly change that to a yes vote at the other side of that weekend.
Morton chief executive Dave MacKinnon pulled no punches on the morning of the EGM vote last week as he said he had notes from a meeting whereby Caley Thistle wanted to null and void all the seasons in all the leagues for 2019/20. They apparently had that fallback plan up their sleeves in case the SPFL’s bid to end the lower league seasons early not succeeded (thanks to Dundee’s dramatic U-turn).
MacKinnon says up to six clubs back up that version of events which was broken on Tuesday morning.
Someone is telling the truth, while someone is telling porkies. Not wee white, inoffensive, lies, but absolutely crucial details, some of which leaves us all scratching our heads.
My main question here is why would Inverness conjure up a scenario whereby they’d not be entitled to a prize pay-out? If the campaigns were nulled and voided, they effectively didn’t happen, so Caley Thistle would not be eligible to collect that much earned cash.
MacKinnon was strong in terms of his version of events, while Caley Thistle feel riled by accusations pointed from several directions at them. They say the truth always comes out in the end and whoever is telling porkies better hide for cover. It is all another bitterly disappointing chapter in Scottish football’s book of shame during times when we really ought to have been doing much better.
Paul’s Alive and Kicking sports show is on North Highland Radio every Friday from 7pm. He is currently teaming up with Lorraine Chisholm to bring you the very latest sports news every week. Follow Alive and Kicking on Facebook and Twitter too for any breaking news.