Saturday 9th May, 2020 at 1:10pm
PTFC Board update: Message to supporters (09.05.2020)
The Partick Thistle Board is deeply angered by the decision to halt league reconstruction due to “insufficient support for any prospect of league reconstruction at this time” after a meeting of Premiership clubs. As the reconstruction group hadn’t even formally presented a final proposal, it is surprising and disappointing that this decision could be made regardless. So it is hard to see this as a considered decision about reconstruction, it smacks more about the settling of scores within the Premiership.
We know you will share our disbelief and concern so it is important that we share all relevant information with you and, most importantly, reassure you about the Club’s future.
First of all, the way that this news was made public before clubs affected by the decision knew – and before they could inform staff and players – was a disgrace.
Yet again we were left to pick up the pieces due to thoughtless, selfish behaviour that showed no regard for fellow clubs. Speaking on behalf of the group of Premiership clubs yesterday (Friday), Aberdeen FC chairman Dave Cormack said: “The strong feeling of the group was that we must focus all of our energies on emerging from the crisis we face.” This is patronising nonsense. Is Mr Cormack suggesting that no clubs in other leagues have considered what’s happening to Scottish football? If so, that is disrespectful and offensive.
All of our recent actions and decision-making have taken the bigger picture in to account. We obtained a strong joint counsel’s Opinion which raised significant issues around the whole process of the resolution vote and related matters, with the option to take this before a court. However, we chose not to pursue court action for the greater good of Scottish football in the face of a pandemic and to ensure no harm to fellow clubs, as well as protecting Thistle’s interests.
We then accepted an invitation to join the Reconstruction Group task force. We did so in good faith, despite our initial misgivings that it was not a genuine attempt to address the problems created by a hasty end to the season, after assurances from the SPFL. Indeed, they – in their statement on April 15 where they confirmed the resolution had passed yet “forgot” to acknowledge our relegation – stated: “The SPFL executive will provide all possible services and support to make the work of the task force a success.”. Sadly, this has not proven to be the case, the SPFL has fallen way short in this undertaking.
Throughout this process, we have endeavoured to represent the club with determination and dignity despite the divisive and distasteful debate being played out around us. Last week, we wrote privately, at length, to the SPFL to raise our concerns that their actions were making it harder to bring Scottish football together and could jeopardise the prospect of reconstruction. With our fears realised, and in the interests of transparency with you, our supporters, we have taken the decision to share that letter today.
The SPFL and some clubs, namely the six who were behind that decision yesterday, have now made it even more difficult for Partick Thistle Football Club to emerge unscathed from the crisis we now face. What’s galling is that it all stems from the arbitrary and unjust way the club was relegated, with no say in it, which effectively saw a members’ organisation inflict damage on us, one of its members, amid the most extraordinary circumstances.
Our treatment is unprecedented in Scottish football. During this pandemic, across sport, efforts are ongoing to actively try to prevent damage, yet our governing body inexplicably chose a different path. It has singularly failed in its primary duty of care to a member. We have been forgotten, ignored and patronised while senior figures, for reasons best known to themselves, have scuppered a potential solution that did the least harm with no regard to the plight of those who have been betrayed for a second time.
This is a sad indictment on those who govern our game and the clubs who think this is acceptable, especially when some of them may be in our shoes one day.
Despite it all, Partick Thistle will not only survive this injustice but will flourish again. All that yesterday’s development means is that we will achieve this despite the behaviour and actions of the SPFL and some of our fellow clubs. This will serve to drive us forward, not set us back.
In purely practical terms, the Board and CEO have been running for weeks with parallel plans for the club based on the two possible outcomes of reconstruction talks. We will now work to our Plan B – notwithstanding that there is still no clarity as to when football will return – aided by our manager Ian McCall.
Finally, we have been supporting a number of different committees set up to help the SPFL/Scottish FA and clubs to overcome this crisis. We must now reconsider whether our participation in these committees are the best use of club and staff resource at a time when we must put our football club first.
Going forward, our focus will now solely be on securing Partick Thistle and looking after everyone associated with the club. Our commitment to you is that when football returns, we will be here and ready to play to win. We are extremely grateful for all the support you’ve given the club to date – we need it now more than ever. You are our beating heart, your health and wellbeing is more important to us than anything else, so until we meet again at Firhill, stay safe and take care.
Letter from Partick Thistle FC to the SPFL (30.04.2020)
I wanted to write to you after the publication of your most recent open letter to all Scottish professional football league clubs.
Firstly, this is private correspondence that we will not be making public. I would hope you would ensure that this is respected by the SPFL and its PR advisers. We have no wish to add to the ongoing divisive and increasingly distasteful debate being played out in the media. It damages Scottish football and your recent letters, regrettably, have added to the perception of Scottish football being at war.
When Thistle decided to accept the decision of the majority of clubs to end the season, we did so again because we believed this was in the best interests of the game in Scotland as a whole. This was despite being in receipt of counsel’s opinion that the outcome, which has adversely affected Partick Thistle in the most unfair and disproportionate manner, was open to legitimate challenge. In exercising our right to do this, I do not believe that in any statement we made were we discourteous or disrespectful to the SPFL, either to the Board or to individual members of staff.
We also took in good faith the commitment to seriously consider a new structure that could mitigate some of the worst aspects of closing this season down prematurely. Since then, I have been encouraged by the positive approach taken in these meetings and took seriously the plea not to discuss any of this outside of the group. In short, Partick Thistle has kept its own counsel and chosen to focus on membership of the task force.
So, it is with dismay that, at a time when the country faces enormous challenges and people are dying in large numbers, the SPFL appears to have taken leave of its collective senses.
The new public communications approach taken by the SPFL isn’t just unhelpful; the language used in your last letter is divisive and accusatory. If the intention is to bring clubs together, I fear it will have the opposite effect. Regardless of what is said and done to it, the SPFL needs to maintain a professional stance, leading by example with maturity and taking its own advice to remember that the world is watching. An EGM is already agreed. There is no need for anything further to be said or for a defensive position to be adopted – just trust in the process.
I appreciate your recognition today that the announcement of the relegation of Partick Thistle and Stranraer could have been handled better. You are right. In a career spanning over 35 years, I have never seen anything so disrespectful from a so-called membership organisation to a member. It is hard to convey the stress the absence of any mention of our relegation added to the situation when the vote was announced in such a thoughtless way. Yet there was no anger reflected in the statement we released a few days later: we behaved decently and responsibly when we might have been forgiven for legitimately criticising the SPFL.
Indeed, when the whole issue of the pandemic started, on 19th March Partick Thistle shared its views with the SPFL and the Championship clubs on what the mindset and focus should be to get Scottish football through what was undoubtedly going to be a difficult time for the game. That spoke of coming out the other side with all clubs intact, no administration or liquidations and included the suggestion that the SPFL ingathered information to share with clubs around salaries, contracts, govt support along with collective lobbying of Govt for financial assistance.
We talked about a generational opportunity to refocus the game, a time to assess, be innovative and recentre the game to those we need the most – our fans. We believed – and still do – there needed to be a more collegiate approach to mirror what was happening in society. All of this before we knew the SPFL’s fate for us. We were acting in the best interests of Scottish football, not self-interest.
It was extremely disappointing, therefore, that yesterday’s statement appears to accuse Partick Thistle of having a specific agenda in criticising the SPFL in this section which I have abbreviated for clarity.
Partick Thistle spoke of this decision causing “significant damage to Thistle and others”. If reconstruction doesn’t happen, what then? Because it will inevitably lead to financial problems and job losses for relegated clubs.
This was an impossible situation not of our making and it is extremely disappointing to witness clubs with a very specific agenda criticising us for acting in the best interests of the game as a whole.
Firstly, there is no actual answer to your own question “If reconstruction doesn’t happen, what then?’ which might have given us some reassurance. But more than that, this is an outrageous and damaging allegation about an ‘agenda’ which cannot be interpreted in any other way as singling out Partick Thistle for criticism. If it isn’t, I would welcome an explanation of what was actually meant.
Our only interest has been in achieving a fair outcome in the face of a random act against us, something that no one can surely object to. The Board of Directors have a duty to look after the best interests of this club as do the directors of every club in Scotland.
You talk about how the decision was taken because to do otherwise would ‘deny the funds to clubs that were literally on their knees and watch possibly dozens of them going to the wall.’
It seems as if that consideration was not extended to Partick Thistle. We estimate that relegation will cost us (additional) hundreds of thousands of pounds which, when taken with the ongoing lack of football, will make it extremely difficult for us to overcome that situation when football resumes.
We still believe a better solution was possible and in admitting your own shortcomings today, it suggests you agree that more time could have been taken to agree the outcome. Relegating us with a game in hand and two points behind our nearest challenger is a disproportionate punishment at a time when football is on its knees – can you advise me what other team in Europe other than Stranraer has been disadvantaged in this way by the early end of their league?
That should have been history, something we have all moved beyond. We set aside our anger and confusion to be part of the SPFL solution, believing that there is a genuine willingness to right the wrongs done going forward. Our CEO and two Directors have volunteered for the groups tasked with identifying how best Scottish football can recover from this crisis, I am on the reconstruction group. Yet in this letter, you have chosen to inflict a further wound on Partick Thistle by referring to us in the way you have – to what end? Again, a thoughtless reference which draws further attention to a club whose only “fault” is to have behaved honourably in the face of the most unjust treatment.
In closing, I feel that the actions of the SPFL in the last few days have made it harder to bring Scottish football together. I also fear that there may have been damage done to the previously real opportunity for reconstruction, which is potentially dissipating with every SPFL utterance.
When Neil and I spoke, we agreed that we both wanted to see things move on and for divisions to be healed. I assured him that we would play our part fully and we are because there is no alternative to looking forward. But the SPFL’s current strategy – to fight with clubs in the public domain – seems an ill-judged and self-indulgent approach. This does not look like a show of strength, it looks like a last stand – and that can be in no-one’s interest.