Explanatory Statement of the SFL EGM Vote

From the Board of Directors
As promised, we will try and explain the reasoning behind our decision to vote "yes" to the Rangers newco entering the SFL into the First Divsion.

Much has been written about the need for “sporting integrity” to prevail but, in truth, both of the options on which we voted on Friday contained an element of compromise. Granting Rangers an immediate place in the Third Division circumvents the lengthy admission process which our friends and neighbours at Annan were required to go through a few years ago. Real integrity would have been best served by Rangers sitting out the 2012/13 season and going through the proper tests and checks for admission in 2013/14. We considered that if sporting integrity was being overridden in part anyway then we had to consider the other issues alongside Rangers potential entry.
There were 4 main aspects considered in this decision
1.    League reconstruction
2.    Finances
3.    The actions of the Governing bodies
4.    The Fans
League Reconstruction
Scottish football is badly in need of reconstruction. The SPL has failed. It has failed as an organisation to attract the level of sponsorship, tv deals etc, that were the very reason for its creation. It has failed its clubs and Scottish Football as a whole, not least in its handling of this situation. Three governing bodies are too many and Scottish football should be re-organised under one governing body that can represent and be responsible for all of the clubs.

It is ridiculous that there are no play-offs between the top two tiers of our club game. Play-offs have been a successful introduction in the lower leagues and would generate additional interest, both in the SPL and the First Division, amongst fans, sponsors and, potentially, tv companies. Whilst the proposals on offer at Fridays meeting were not as concrete as we would have liked, they still represented a move forward on reconstruction that would be in the best interests of the game. There is no guarantee from the governing bodies that they will pursue this reconstruction if there was a "no" vote, quite the opposite in fact. These changes are long overdue and we urge the governing bodies to continue working towards these proposals, even on the back of the "no" vote. The fact is these proposals should have been proposed and considered separately from the Rangers issue in the first place.

Contrary to what you may have read, or believe, this was not the primary consideration in this decision.  Several representations were made to the various meetings on this subject and, as you`ll have seen, they painted a pretty bleak picture for Scottish football if there was a "no" vote. Many of these claims may be grossly exaggerated and unfounded. However, the facts are that some money will be lost to the game. The majority of this will be lost to the SPL and some would argue that this is "their problem". This isn’t a view we share and we have always said we would do what was best for Queen of the South and for Scottish football on the whole. You could long argue about the rights and wrongs of how the clubs got into this position but the harsh reality is that they are where they are and having clubs in the top flight struggle financially or worse is not something we consider to be good for Scottish football.

From our own club’s point of view, as you will know, we undertook some fairly drastic cost cutting last season in order to remain viable as a club and have decided to remain full time, despite relegation to Division 2. It was also made very clear to us at the AGM in March 2011 that the Board of Directors should not take decisions that would place the financial future of the club in jeopardy. Therefore, any potential loss of revenue has to be carefully considered along with its consequences. It remains to be seen what the impact of the "no" vote will be on the club’s finances. We sincerely hope it will not be anywhere near the “doomsday scenario” levels predicted but we assure you we are committed to ensuring the clubs long term future is secure. This means that the budgets for the year ahead will now have to be re-visited with the best information we have regarding the income for the year ahead. We may be forced to restrict the playing budget for this season further than previously intended.
Governing Bodies
We have been incredibly disappointed and angry at the actions and leadership of the senior members of the SFA and SPL throughout this whole saga. There have been statements, both public and private, that have amounted to little more than threats. The dialogue has been negative, focussing on and exaggerating the possible "armageddon" rather than rallying and actively trying to find solutions that all clubs and, more importantly, supporters would feel comfortable supporting.

Instead we were presented with a set of proposals that no-one was happy with. More importantly, the message from the governing bodies was that, even with a "no" vote, they would continue to pursue the newco Rangers playing in one of the top two tiers next season. There has been a lot of talk about how this is not possible under the current rules, but as the saying goes "where there’s a will there’s a way". The real risk, therefore, was that we would end up with Rangers newco not in Division 3 anyway but with none of the benefits of league reconstruction or additional revenue for the SFL : the vote, in effect becoming "Newco in Division 1 with benefits" v  "Newco in top two tiers with no benefits". We felt that if there was any chance of getting league reconstruction, and the other overall benefits to the game, that we had to vote "yes".

Over the next few days and weeks we will find out if these were, indeed, empty threats or whether the governing bodies will collude to ignore the democratic process and find a way to insert the Rangers newco into one of the top two tiers for next season. Let’s be perfectly clear though, if this does happen it will be not be the fault of those who voted "no" on Friday, it will be firmly the responsibility of the senior members of the governing bodies.

If the Rangers newco does indeed begin next season in Division 3 then we will have got this part of our reasoning wrong and we would acknowledge that. We fully support the democractic process and are completely behind the decision reached on Friday. We would urge the governing bodies to also come out publicly and say the same, put this whole saga to bed and move forward to next season.

Whatever happens, we wish to place on record our appreciation of the work that David Longmuir and his small team at the SFL have done in trying to reach a workable compromise. The SFL and its member clubs should never have been placed in the position of voting on this issue in the first place.
The Fans
Last, but by no means least, one of the most difficult parts of this decision was knowing we would be voting differently to the wishes of the majority of fans who contacted us.

We want to be very clear though, that voting contrary to the opinions of many fans is not the same as ignoring them. We read all of the correspondence, and again would like to thank each and every person who took the time to get in touch. The opinions of fans were considered, and debated, long and hard before the Board took the difficult decision to vote contrary to most of them. Please do not take any part of this process to imply that you were ignored or dismissed. This simply was not the case. We hope you will acknowledge that communication with the present Board has been much improved over the last year or so. We did not make any definitive statement prior to the SFL EGM as the situation was fluid right up to the day of the meeting and the goalposts were moving constantly. We did however issue a short statement as soon as practical thereafter and followed it up with this longer explanation. We note with interest that to date few, if any, of the other “yes” voters have chosen to publicly acknowledge the fact. 

It goes without saying how important the fans are to the club and we hope that, despite your personal feelings towards the members of the Board and this decision, you will continue to support the club. We know many have said they will walk away from the club. Please know, though, that it gives the members of the Board no pleasure whatsoever to hear any fan talk in this way and we deeply regret that you feel the need to consider such an option. That was never our intention in making this decision.
In summary, we felt that the positives that could be achieved with a "yes" vote were worth pursuing, given that our reading of the situation was that the effect of a "yes" vote would be manufactured by the governing bodies irrespective of the outcome of the actual vote. It remains to be seen if we were correct in this assumption.
Finally, while this piece is not intended to change anybody’s mind, we hope that the fans will read it and, at least, recognise that the decision was taken in what we believed were the best interests of Queen of the South FC and Scottish football overall. Again, we hope that fans continue to support the club, players and management next season, and for many seasons to come, and that we can move forward together in support of the club.