Michael Stewart believes that the Scottish football authorities should pay out prize money to help clubs through financial hardship.
Hearts announced yesterday that they were asking all staff to take a 50% pay cut as the financial effects of the football lockdown begin to be felt.
With a lack of gate receipt money coming through the door, and potentially until August (Daily Record), this could be the start of a scary trend right across Scottish football.
And speaking in the Scottish Sun, former Hearts man Michael Stewart has stated his belief that prize money should be dished out but without titles and relegation.
“The rules as they are state the season must be declared over for prize money to be handed out and right now there are a lot of anxious teams out there whose futures depend on that happening as soon as it possibly can. I also totally understand the logic behind the calls to play the season to an end. It’s just fairer.
“And that’s why, in these unprecedented times, I think there is another solution. Let’s do both. Why not pay out the prize money based on where every team is right now? But do so on the proviso that the season will be finished whenever football eventually returns.
“And whatever over or under-payments are made can be redressed at the end of next season when clubs will, hopefully, be on a better financial footing. At a stroke that addresses the issue of clubs needing a lump sum of money now to make it through to the summer.”
Could we start seeing clubs fall all around us?
This step by Hearts is incredibly drastic considering we’re only a week or so from the decision being made to shut Scottish football down.
Granted, this was likely a decision made to plan for the long haul without any games being on. Therefore, how much a lump sum for finishing 12th in the Premiership would help Hearts is debatable.
But Stewart could be on to something here. The likes of Kilmarnock, Motherwell, and St Johnstone are all examples of good community clubs who rely a lot on getting punters through the gates. How they can afford to operate without that money dropping into their account is anyone’s guess.
If the SPFL/SFA gave out prize-money just now to many of them, it would perhaps help them with their long-term planning.
Granted, what it could lead to is a real mess come the actual end of the season when places have been confirmed in the table. Clubs may not be in a position to pay the authorities back. Nobody knows how certain clubs will be affected a few months down the line.
Stewart’s verdict on this feels a bit messy, but he’s putting the future of Scottish football clubs first. Will it catch on? Doubtful to say the least.