Court of Session ruling

Hearts’ relegation battle goes to arbitration panel

Battle: Ann Budge (pic: SNS Group)

Hearts and Partick Thistle’s legal battle against relegation is to be heard by an independent arbitration panel.

The clubs had wanted the case to go before an open court but lost their argument at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The two relegated parties had opposed motions by the SPFL and promoted clubs Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers that the case go to arbitration but this was dismissed at the end of the three-day hearing.

Following Lord Clark’s ruling, the Scottish FA will not rule on the matter but must appoint three arbitrators to the tribunal. One is to be selected by the SPFL, one by Hearts and Partick and the chair who must have at least 10 years’ judiciary experience and be mutually acceptable to both parties.

The judge disagreed that the issue would be best heard by people involved in football but advised that arbitration be expedited in order for it to be completed in time for the start of the new season on 1 August.

Documents relating to the controversial decision to bring the 2019/20 season to an end must be provided confidentially, ruled Lord Clark.

The decision means that under-fire SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and Dundee owner John Nelms will not have to give evidence in court over the Dens Park club’s U-turn in casting their decisive vote.

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