Hearts threaten legal action if virus chaos leads to relegation

Glasgow (AFP) –


Hearts owner Ann Budge has threatened to take legal action if her Scottish Premiership club are relegated due to the chaos caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Football in Scotland is on hold due to the deadly pandemic and there have been reports the season could even be cancelled if the situation does not improve.

The Scottish Professional Football League is discussing potential options.

If the season was called off, it raises the question of who, if anyone, would be relegated from the Scottish Premiership.

At present, Hearts are four points adrift at the bottom of the top-flight table.

When asked if she would take legal action if her club were relegated without being able to finish the season, Budge told Sky Sports News: "Yes, I would have to, because I fundamentally disagree with it.

"Because there are so many options, it's difficult for me to sit here and say we would do this and do that.

"But I am not of a view that it's a reasonable thing to do. Nor could I see who would benefit.

"How does that help anybody in a situation where we are all confronting issues that nobody ever imagined we would have to confront?

"Who benefits from it? I just can't get my head round that.

"I have already made my position known shall we say, in a non-confrontational manner I would like to say, but I have tried to put my arguments over to the SPFL board. I know they are in a difficult situation."

Budge remains hopeful the final eight matches will be played eventually, but with the virus still a major threat, she is preparing for an unwanted conclusion.

"I would love to be able to finish the season but if we can't then I think we have to be pragmatic about it and take a view on a premature ending," she said.

"If the season were deemed to be ended then you have to go back to the rules, and the rules very, very clearly state that the competition comprises 38 games.

"Clearly, we all know that we have not played 38 games."

- 'Watchful eye' -

Celtic manager Neil Lennon claims his team should be crowned champions if the season cannot be completed.

After 30 matches, Lennon's team are 13 points clear of Rangers, who have a game in hand.

But Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson hit back by suggesting that would impact the integrity of sport.

"It is our firm view that this season's league competition is only complete when all 38 games are played by all teams," Robertson said in a statement.

"For the avoidance of doubt, we believe that final standings can only be confirmed when all games have been completed, not before.

"Any attempt to finish the season with a significant amount of games still to play, impacts upon the integrity of sport in Scotland.

"Furthermore, we are strongly opposed to playing games behind closed doors. Rangers fans have stuck by our club in the darkest of times. Their loyalty will not be forgotten and they will not be left behind.

"We will continue to maintain a watchful eye on the decisions of footballs governing bodies."