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Analysis: Dundee enjoying their status as kingmakers

By Alan Pattullo

They remain in an unaccustomed position. At the time of writing, the Dens Park club are the kingmakers of Scottish football. In being left holding the casting vote for the way ahead for Scottish football, more by accident than design it now appears, they have effectively summoned influencers to their door – metaphorically speaking in these lockdown times.

Judging from WhatsApp messages from Eric Drysdale that came to light on Friday night, these shadowy figures - “big hitters”, to employ the Dundee secretary’s phrase - go by the names of “Peter” and “Neil”.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner confirmed these messages as genuine on Saturday afternoon during a revealing interview on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound programme. Gardiner was one of the members on a group chat among clubs preparing to reject an SPFL proposal to curtail the season with placings determined by points per game in league matches played so far.

“Peter” and “Neil” are, of course, messrs Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, and Doncaster, SPFL chief executive. Only one of them – Doncaster – has a place on the SPFL board, although Rangers have now called for him to be suspended while an independent investigation into the “stewardship” of the vote is conducted.

John Nelms, the Dundee managing director, has clammed up completely in a public sense since releasing a statement on Friday afternoon in which Dundee appeared to present the case for rejecting the SPFL’s resolution.

The Dens Park club seem to be enjoying their new status. Contacted yesterday, a Dundee spokesperson replied they would be making no comment “until things are clearer”.

Whatever happened with the Dundee vote, one thing is already abundantly clear – they have to date reneged on a promise made to their fellow refuseniks, Inverness included, to reject the resolution. If stopping short of providing an actual explanation for what happened on Friday, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan’s letter yesterday to all 42 clubs at least confirmed the chain of events.

He confirmed Dundee’s vote had arrived – “late that evening”. According to Gardiner on Sportsound, Drysdale confirmed the vote was sent at 16:52pm. The Dundee secretary was charged with dealing with the email rather than Nelms. Two email addresses were provided by the SPFL in the resolution papers – that of Iain Blair, the company secretary and director of operations, and Michelle Shields, the PA to the chairman and chief executive.

What occurred between 16:52pm and 17:51pm, when a statement was released by the SPFL delivering the result of the vote – or at least the result thus far – remains open to conjecture. But for whatever reason, the SPFL chose to broadcast that with three votes still outstanding, the bid to pass this resolution teetering on a knife edge. The Premiership and Leagues 1 and 2 had approved the resolution. “We await the voting slip from the one Championship club that has yet to vote,” the statement said.

Many have questioned the motivation for making public the incomplete result.

“That was ridiculous,” said one club chairman yesterday. “Who puts out an exit poll before the poll is closed? There is no case history of anything like that happening, where you publish the results part the way through. It’s simply to put pressure on whoever was left outstanding and let them know how in the balance it actually was. But they (the SPFL) could have done that one to one – ‘do you guys know your vote has not arrived, so you might want to put it in’. It was for a purpose.”

If it was an attempt to nudge Dundee towards voting in favour, given the pressure now weighing down on them, it backfired.

Nelms, with the kind of opportunism he will hope his side’s strikers adopt, seized on the chance that was presented. He rushed to tell Drysdale not to re-send the vote, as the secretary had planned to do on being informed that Dundee’s had not yet arrived. At 6pm on Friday the SPFL did receive an email missive from Dundee – one informing them that any attempted vote from the club arriving thereafter should not be considered as having been cast.

This vote – with a tick clearly placed in the “Reject” box – duly arrived later that evening, signed by Nelms. The delay is speculated as being due to the PDF of the scanned slip having tripped the SPFL’s firewall. A mortified Drysdale tried to explain the turn of events on WhatsApp to fellow club officials. He stated he “imagines.. Neil (Doncaster) will have been talking to Peter (Lawwell) just after five, and the SPFL not having received our vote has led to further conversations with John (Nelms) of which I currently have no knowledge”.

Drysdale described the change in circumstances as an “unexpected negotiating opportunity”. Indeed, were it planned, they should put Nelms and Drysdale – perhaps Gordon Strachan too, since we should not forget the Dundee technical director’s potential part in any dealings with Lawwell – in the dugout when football resumes. They are clearly tactical geniuses.

“Are they as smart as that, I don’t know,” asked former St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour on Sportsound yesterday when asked to account for Dundee’s actions – or non-actions.

It’s difficult, on the face of it, to see what Dundee can hope to gain. There’s talk of wanting to push through a 14-team top-flight, which would leave Dundee, currently third in the second tier, as clear favourites to win the Championship next season, whenever that can get underway. But it also means losing out on the big away followings of either Dundee United or Hearts.

A club which, ten years ago, found themselves at the mercy of a vote which condemned them to a 25-point penalty following a second administration event, currently hold a sword of Damocles over their fellow SPFL sides.

Hearts’ fate, for one, remains firmly in the balance. Owner Ann Budge was speaking for many of her peers when she said she had “no more insight than anyone else” as to why Dundee had not yet confirmed their vote.

Even when the Dens Park club do deign to inform us all of their intentions, it won’t stop the strife.

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It's good to see someone from the BBC sensibly highlighting that DFC have been "thrown under a bus" by the SPFL's totally unprofessional & questionable decision to announce the voting 'to the worl

Analysis: Dundee enjoying their status as kingmakers By Alan Pattullo They remain in an unaccustomed position. At the time of writing, the Dens Park club are the kingmakers of Scottish footb

If it is the case that Lawell is involved then Dundee have to stick to the no vote or get cast iron guarantees from Celtic that they will vote in favour of reconstruction that benefits the whole of Sc

Decent article from Patullo although, whilst nice to see a piece not slating us, it's almost as speculative as some of the west based media's stuff. What I'd like to see is something completely unbiased, with all the facts to date, from an impartial journo, though that seems unlikely.

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I really can't get my head around Lawwell's involvement. I appreciate that Celtic are a big club within Scottish Football but they have a vested interest in this resolution being pushed through, really Lawwell should not be part of any discussions as he plays no part on the SPFL board, or the SFA's for that matter. Only those charged with finding a solution (the SPFL board) should've been talking on Friday night.

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13 minutes ago, Reverend Lovejoy said:

I really can't get my head around Lawwell's involvement. I appreciate that Celtic are a big club within Scottish Football but they have a vested interest in this resolution being pushed through, really Lawwell should not be part of any discussions as he plays no part on the SPFL board, or the SFA's for that matter. Only those charged with finding a solution (the SPFL board) should've been talking on Friday night.

Maybe The Rangers claims are based on Lawwell's participation. Its more their style to be paranoid about their twin than anything else.

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23 minutes ago, Reverend Lovejoy said:

I really can't get my head around Lawwell's involvement. I appreciate that Celtic are a big club within Scottish Football but they have a vested interest in this resolution being pushed through, really Lawwell should not be part of any discussions as he plays no part on the SPFL board, or the SFA's for that matter. Only those charged with finding a solution (the SPFL board) should've been talking on Friday night.

I mentioned it yesterday mate...Celtic players on loan for free🤔

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1 hour ago, mitch said:

I mentioned it yesterday mate...Celtic players on loan for free🤔

If it is the case that Lawell is involved then Dundee have to stick to the no vote or get cast iron guarantees from Celtic that they will vote in favour of reconstruction that benefits the whole of Scottish football . We have to be seen to be doing the right thing here , something for the greater good of the game in Scotland even if it is a 14 team top league that we wouldn't be part of next season. If we do this then any right minded person will appreciate that Nelms has went out on a limb for the benefit of the game (Rangers will carry on as usual , seething and blaming everybody else for everything but theres nothing anyone can do to stop that) . If we only  accept sweeteners like loan players to change our vote to suit Celtics agenda then I'm afraid we will deserve all the abuse that will come our way .

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From journalist Moira Gordon-

Comment: The SPFL’s absence of care and disregard for democracy has been alarming

League made Dundee a scapegoat when it decided to publish the results before all the votes were in.

When the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg revealed that postal votes painted a grim picture for Labour during the most recent general election, she prompted the Electoral Commission to release a statement which warned that “it may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed”. They
appealed to anyone with knowledge of any insider trading in advance of voting to report it to the police. Serious stuff, but it shows how strong the desire remains to protect democracy in this country. The SPFL apparently have no such qualms.Just 48 hours after a 120-page document on their resolution to end the Championship, League One and League Two seasons and divvy up the prize fund had been doled out to member clubs, the runaround lights started flashing and, still in semi-darkness, metaphorically speaking, those involved were asked to pick their spot; either for or against, The request was that, if possible, votes should be cast before 5pm on Friday. Given the urgency of clubs’ financial position, there was an attempt to get the voting slips in by then. But company law means that those involved actually had 28 days to arrive at their conclusion. With that in mind, it would seem ridiculous that anything but a full quota of votes, or a definitive victory one way or the other would be signalled prematurely. Scottish football, though, has a fabulously-predictable propensity for the ridiculous.The SPFL – a body not known for its swift thought or actions or an insatiable desire to propel its business into the public domain – released a statement before 6pm on Friday to say that it had already held a board meeting to consider the responses to the resolution and went on to reveal that, having received a significant percentage of the votes required in the Premiership and Leagues One and Two, there was still one Championship side who could veto the proposal. Stating the vote was poised at 7-2 in favour, it was clear that one club now held all the power.It was also clear, in that minute, that the body which is supposed to serve the clubs and look out for the good of the Scottish leagues had failed in it’s duty. Straying from its secret squirrel modus operandi, it was chucking yet another club under the bus. Put aside the SPFL’s desire to push through a resolution that sees it fail clubs who will be unfairly relegated, when their points tallies, games in hand and scheduled fixtures would still offer each and every one of them the opportunity to escape. Forget that others will be denied promotion via play-offs and the pyramid system and that the consequences for these clubs of such an inequitable solution could be dire. Also,for a second (and only a second), park the fact that it was effectively placing a gun to the head of cash-strapped clubs by entwining the premature conclusion of the league season with prize-fund payouts, when, as a members’ organisation, few believe that a rule change would not allow for the latter to be extricated from the former, giving it time to find a fairer solution to the current crisis. But, regardless of your views on the resolution, it is the handling of the process that has been, at best, irresponsible, at worst utterly Machiavellian.Why else would the SPFL release the voting numbers before the polls were closed? Why else would it then go to ground, only reappearing briefly to hit back when the actions of chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie, pictured inset, were called into question yesterday?. Quick to defend themselves, they happily hung others out to dry by revealing that one club now has all the power. It invited a backlash, with the Twitterati originally and, as it turns out, unfairly hitting out at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who have come out of this mess as honourably as anyone. But the real identity of club “X” eventually got out and the entire football community turned its sights on Dundee. With their anonymity stolen from them and everyone now watching which way they finally sway, Dundee have been set up as the scapegoats. Let’s be honest, given the promises made and their subsequent admission that self-interest saw them stall their vote once they realised their bargaining power, the image of the Dens Park side as a cloaked, cackling, moustache-twiddling baddie may be unavoidable now. But, the truth is, like every other club, they have the right to jump either way. But, thanks to the SPFL’s absence of care and disregard for democracy, the public have now seen the voting slip, signed by managing director John Nelms, and they have heard the tale about it being submitted by secretary Eric Drysdale only to discover that the SPFL had somehow not received it. If, after a weekend listening to inducements, Dundee stick to their guns, those who have wasted time wooing them are not going to be happy. But if they change their mind they will be cast as backstabbers and, while they will get their share of the prize fund, the club will have a reputation worth little. This is a test of their character and how highly people can value their word. And when this is all over, they will only have the SPFL to thank if their relationships with others is strained. Did the SPFL reveal the voting numbers knowing that a bit of digging would quickly expose Dundee and leave them in this tricky spot? Did they accede to pressure from key players in the Scottish game to effectively out the team whose vote so conveniently wasn’t cast, despite being submitted? Or were they just careless?. Whatever the case, should Dundee now change their mind, the outcome cannot be considered just.There is a reason polling stations synchronise opening times, a reason why postal votes are not counted until the last booth is shut. The SPFL didn’t just expose Dundee on Friday, they undermined democracy and cast doubt on the credibility of the result. For that, they deserve all the criticism coming their way.

 
 
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Seems a fair summary, Dundee either extract as much as they can from the SPFL for the good of all the clubs or stick to their original vote. For me, they need to get rid of any relegations as the bare minimum or its 'no deal'.

As for the SPFL, I hope this brings about some proper reform, I'd hoped once the old SFL was absorbed into a larger body things might improve but its not looking like it.

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People can’t be serious that we work on a deal with liewell for players etc lol 

 

sell your soul to the devil 

Edited by Bobby Dee
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10 minutes ago, Bobby Dee said:

People can’t be serious that we work on a deal with liewell for players etc lol 

 

sell your soul to the devil 

The rumour was that Dundee would receive loan players for free if they changed their vote..if true , somebody needs to be pulled up in front of the judge 

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6 minutes ago, mitch said:

The rumour was that Dundee would receive loan players for free if they changed their vote..if true , somebody needs to be pulled up in front of the judge 

What judge?

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