Hearts and Partick Thistle say promoted trio risk further division by asking clubs to help with legal bills

Hearts and Partick Thistle insist their dispute is with the SPFL and not the three promoted clubs but say they risk creating further division by asking other teams to fund their legal bills.

The two sides, who were relegated after the SPFL ended the season early due to the coronavirus crisis, took their fight with the organisation to court before it was referred to an SFA arbitration panel.

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Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers decided to litigate in the matter fearing their promotions could be in jeopardy, with United asking fellow SPFL clubs for support with their legal costs and starting a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for bills.

However, Hearts and Thistle say they are not in dispute with the promoted trio and claim they did not have to become directly involved in the legal fight.

“As a matter of urgency, we would like to clarify our position alongside Heart of Midlothian in relation to the role being played by Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers in our case against the SPFL,” a joint statement said.

“Those clubs were named in the Petition, along with Stranraer, because they are the clubs most likely to be impacted by a decision in our favour. We are not, and have never been, in direct dispute with them.

“The SPFL is opposing our Petition and will do so at the forthcoming arbitration. Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were not therefore required to litigate or arbitrate against us. However, they chose to do so.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we accept that was a choice they were fully entitled to make, no doubt having been fully advised of the risks and costs. We absolutely know and understand that was not a decision to be taken lightly.”

Hearts and Thistle added that this was not a dispute between clubs, but rather about them “battling” the SPFL as an organisation, but stressed that in asking other teams to fund their legal costs, Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers risked creating further division.

The statement added: “This is not about two clubs, Hearts and Partick Thistle, battling against other member clubs. This is about these two clubs battling against the organisation, which is meant to look after all of our interests, and holding them accountable for their prejudicial actions. We would contend that any club in our position would be taking similar action.

“However, encouraging clubs to fund anyone’s costs in this process could create further division. We consider such an approach to be at odds with the fundamental requirement of the SPFL rules that the SPFL and each club shall behave towards each other with the utmost good faith. We cannot therefore let that pass without comment.”

Falkirk, who missed out on promotion after finishing the League 1 season one point behind Raith Rovers, said they would not offer the trio any financial assistance if they were asked.

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