Football: We Use Votes to Help Us Survive; Exclusive Robinson Admits Self-Interest Is Always Going to Affect SPL

Article excerpt

Byline: By Gary Ralston

HEARTS chief Chris Robinson last night admitted the SPL is peppered with self-interest.

But he denied pushing for Inverness Caley Thistle to ground-share at Pittodrie to keep Stewart Milne sweet for buying Tynecastle.

The Two Jags saga took another twist yesterday when the Dundee clubs formed an axis with Dunfermline to push for Caley Thistle to play SPL football next season at their own ground with temporary seats.

Their motivation is to see competition restored in the SPL via promotion and relegation for the good of Scottish football.

However, it is understood the Dundee clubs are also still smarting after Aberdeen chief executive Keith Wyness rejected their plans to ground-share at Tannadice next season at the SPL general meeting on March 30.

The Pars also lost manager Jimmy Calderwood to the Dons in acrimonious circumstances last month, although chairman John Yorkston has insisted it did not sway his vote.

One observer said: 'It's strange Keith Wyness supports ground-share for clubs 100 miles apart but not two teams 100 yards from each other.'

Robinson raised an eyebrow when confronted with Record Sport's exclusive yesterday on the new proposals, which could go before the SPL later this month.

He said: 'I don't think it can happen in time for next season but nothing ever surprises me in football.'

Robinson admits legal advice should have been given to all clubs in the run-up to the SPL general meeting on March 30 to avoid the farce into which the top 12 have descended.

And he confessed the SPL now has a problem with credibility in the eyes of fans who are currently being asked to fork out for season tickets.

He admits selfishness is a factor but rejected a conspiracy theory he is only pushing for a second vote to maintain good relations with Dons owner Milne who has bid pounds 24million to turn Tynecastle into luxury homes.

Robinson said: 'There's absolutely no truth in that whatsoever. It presupposes Stewart Milne is still a favoured bidder for Tynecastle and it shouldn't.

'Self-interest is inevitable and not peculiar to Scotland - ask clubs down south about votes and the way they go in their league set-up and self-interest is always to the fore.

'Football is a unique business in that clubs all rely on each other for success but if it's a question of survival your self-interest always comes to the fore and the self-interest of one club may be different to another.'

Robinson defended his right to call, with rivals Hibs, for a second vote on the issue of promotion and relegation involving Inverness and Partick Thistle on June 22.

He insists there was never a March 31 deadline for ground--share proposals to be put in place, despite letters from SPL secretary Iain Blair and chairman Lex Gold clearly pointing to the contrary.

Hearts, Dundee, Dundee United, Kilmarnock, Dunfermline, Clyde and Falkirk all put in ground-share proposals at the SPL general meeting on March 30 but Robinson claims his club only submitted because they are well organised.

He said: 'It wasn't some-thing we needed to do by March 31, we chose to do it because there was a meeting coming up and it fitted with our plans. From our point of view it was purely practical to submit our proposals at that stage.

'Perhaps there was confusion because some people read the words stadium criteria and thought it meant ground-share, but there's a definite distinction. …