Falkirk chairman Gary Deans has called for urgent change at the top of Scottish football after the Bairns were left counting the cost of the Scottish FA’s decision to suspend all football beneath the SPFL Championship.
The League One leaders are one of two full-time sides in the third-tier but now have to wait until next month at the earliest before they can resume their title charge after the SFA’s decision.
Deans’ hasn’t been shy in his criticism of the Scottish football authorities over the last year given their handling of the response to the covid-19 pandemic, and now the Bairns chief wants the “unfairness, inconsistency, and double standards” to stop and called for change.
In a lengthy statement on the club website, Deans criticised the lack of clarification from Hampden after the three-week shutdown and failed to get the assurances they were looking for at today’s SPFL meeting.
He also insisted his side were willing to play a leading role in the change as the League One side look to find a better balance in the governance of the Scottish game.
Deans’ statement in full:
Some of you will recall that on Boxing Day I recorded an interview with Falkirk TV expressing concern at the allocation of Scottish Government funding designed to support all of Scotland’s senior clubs address the financial impact of the pandemic. Now, barely a fortnight later, I feel it right to communicate with you to express my disappointment yet again with the decisions made by our sport’s governing bodies to suspend Scotland’s League One and League Two. We’ve held off making our thoughts public for a few days awaiting further clarifications from the SPFL at a meeting scheduled for today (Wednesday). Unfortunately that meeting did not provide any clearer understanding of the justification for the decision.
By way of background, on Monday morning we received a communication from the SFA and SPFL notifying us of their decision to suspend all Scottish football below Championship level. This decision came with no prior consultation with our Club and we have been forced to rapidly assess the impact that the suspension of fixtures and training will have on all our staff here at Falkirk. We continue to work through the implications of this decision and will take the action that we believe is in the best interests of our people, supporters, and club. We will have more to say on this at the Club’s General Meeting of shareholders which is due to take place on Thursday evening.
Our staff have worked incredibly hard to ensure we comply with the varied and numerous pandemic directives and protocols from Scottish Government, the SFA and the SPFL. Quite frankly, our staff and supporters deserve greater respect from Scottish football’s decision makers who threaten their livelihoods and our club with decisions which we believe are ill-thought through and poorly communicated.
We all recognise the wide-ranging and serious impact that the pandemic has had on every aspect of society and of course we commend and support the efforts of the Scottish Government to safeguard life and to protect the NHS. Football has been granted unique concessions which reflect its importance to our national consciousness and we are all aware of recent failures which have brought these concessions into focus.
Unfortunately, only some clubs (namely those in League One and Two and those outside the SPFL) have been made to carry the can for those failings, whilst those in the upper reaches of the league pyramid have been allowed to continue on top of having been rewarded disproportionately with Scottish Government funding.
The health crisis results in everyone – us included – having to make difficult decisions and that includes those in charge of our game, but some decisions, such as those to stop us playing and training while allowing other part-time clubs to continue are baffling. We will be accused of looking at this with the benefit of hindsight, but there were many medical and scientific professionals predicting a second wave of the virus last summer, and yet again Scottish football has proven itself unable to deal with undoubtedly difficult circumstances.
The unfairness, inconsistency, and double standards on display is there for everyone to see. It is heartening to see other clubs express similar disappointment, but I know such expressions will ultimately fail to sway the decisions that are imposed on us and others. To not even be consulted is entirely unacceptable.
Many of you will feel you have heard this record before, but the continued inability of our sport’s most senior decision makers to take decisions that seek to safeguard the future of all of Scotland’s clubs continues to baffle but not surprise. We have called for change and we are ready to play a leading role in the much-needed reform that our national game requires. Change is required and urgently.
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