SPFL's Doncaster: Null and void "a matter for the clubs", Celtic "should take credit"

By Euan Davidson

January 15, 2021

The SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has made some very interesting comments, from a Celtic perspective.

With Covid-19 once again causing havoc in the Scottish game, Doncaster finally spoke out about a number of options. High amongst those were the potential cancellation of the top flight, as well as Celtic’s ill-fated trip to Dubai.

The Bhoys had been slammed from all corners in Scotland. Pundits, supporters and other clubs have spoken extensively on Celtic’s mid-season training camp. Yet, Neil Doncaster doesn’t see a problem with how the club acted.

Neil Doncaster even praised Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell for his video apology to fans.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Record’s Keith Jackson, Doncaster said:

“Firstly, we very much welcome the stance taken by Celtic. I think it’s been very helpful to express contrition and hopefully that enables the game to move on. The club should take a lot of credit for taking that stance.

“We were aware that the club wanted to go to a training camp. Clearly that trip had been approved at the time by the Scottish government although circumstances in November were very different from the circumstances we find ourselves in now.

“It was their decision to make. The league’s decision was about fixturing and we followed the established procedure for a requested postponement.”

SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster / (Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images)

 

For Celtic fans, Neil Doncaster “null and void” could whet appetit

The SPFL chief also spoke about a potential early finish to the Scottish top-flight. Celtic fans might be happy to hear Neil Doncaster speak about the possibility of denying Rangers a league title.

Albeit, it’s under torrid circumstances.

Doncaster opened up about league protocols, should the Covid situation worsen:

“[Ending the league] is a matter for the clubs. Last year, when it became clear the season couldn’t be completed, the vast majority of clubs accepted it because the Scottish government were not allowing matches to take place. The members decided they wanted the season to be curtailed on a points per game basis.

“No-one has a crystal ball about what may take place this season but, in the event that the games couldn’t be played, then once again the members might have a decision to make.

“You’ve got to bear in mind over 75 per cent of games had been played in all four divisions of the SPFL when the season was curtailed. We certainly hope we will complete 100 per cent of the fixtures in all four divisions this season. It will be for the members to determine what happens in the event they are not.”

“Null and void” debacle would be everlasting

It’s very interesting to see Doncaster refusing to rule out a “null and void” scenario.

The benefits to Celtic are obvious. If there was a way to avoid losing 10IAR and rebuild for next season, the club would grab it. We doubt very much that Lawwell would vote against it happening.

However, the legal and sporting fall-out would surely go on for an age, with claims of tainted titles, or asterisks, and so on. Rangers would feel rightly aggrieved should their efforts go without reward in 20-21.

Still, it’s not just up to Celtic and Rangers. The rest of the league has to vote, should the scenario present itself. Clubs chasing promotion from the second tier, such as Hearts, would feel more than a touch angry if the season was voided.

It’s impossible to predict how the next couple of months in Scottish football will go. It doesn’t mean that the Bhoys should relax, however, with plenty of challenging fixtures ahead.