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Sport Hearts fan chief launches attack on SPFL in blistering open letter as he calls for boycott

08:50  05 june  2020
08:50  05 june  2020 Source:   msn.com

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a group of people standing in front of a crowd © SNS Group

Stevie Kilgour spent his honeymoon at Tynecastle and snubbed his sister’s wedding to watch Hearts.

But the Jambos’ fan chief fears football fans are ready to open divorce talks with the SPFL 
over its handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters, has penned an open letter to Scottish football with Bill Alves, chairman of the club’s shareholders’ association.

It contains stinging allegations of a lack of leadership shown from Hampden’s sixth floor in recent months and criticism of the SPFL’s failure to engage 
with fans.

Tynecastle chairman Ann Budge has been left to shape the debate on the reconstruction of the Scottish game, with clubs 
set to snub her pleas for a 
14-10-10-10 set-up in a series of divisional summits today.

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That will almost certainly rubberstamp the relegation of Hearts into the Championship, prompting legal action against the league and its member clubs by the Jambos’ hierarchy.

a person sitting at a table: Hearts owner Ann Budge is leading the talks on league reconstruction © SNS Group Hearts owner Ann Budge is leading the talks on league reconstruction

Kilgour is appalled it has come to this and he revealed members of his supporters organisation are also lobbying hard for a boycott in the coming seasons of the clubs they reckon have conspired against them.

He insists it’s not simply a case of sour grapes as clubs such as Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer bear the brunt of the damage caused by calling the season early.

He believes the SPFL have undermined consumer confidence in their own product by failing to take a firmer grip on the situation when Scottish football was called to a shuddering halt in March.

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He said: “I’m like many fans of many clubs – I’ve been a 
season-ticket holder at Hearts for 40 years and missed only a handful of matches.

“My first marriage was on a Friday and I took her to watch Hearts play Celtic the next day, although I at least bought two tickets for the main stand.

“I told my sister I wasn’t going to her wedding but could make the reception because it was a Saturday afternoon and we were playing Aberdeen.

“Thankfully, they changed the game for television to a Sunday and to this day my nephew still believes I phoned Tynecastle 
and asked them to arrange the fixture switch.

“However, I’m at the stage of asking myself if I want to keep putting my money into a product that’s so clearly broken.

“Per head of population, the Scottish leagues are the best supporters in Europe and our fans put more money into their clubs than anyone else.

“We’re the biggest customers and yet fans are completely ignored by an SPFL leadership that allows self-interest to flourish when it should be 
taking greater control of the sport’s well-being.

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“Neil Doncaster is paid almost £400,000 and all he seems to say is it’s a members’ organisation and he only does what he’s told. I could do that for a fraction of his salary. Leadership at the top is lacking.”

Hearts fans are seeking assurances from the SPFL that all teams can guarantee to play a complete season or else be mothballed for 12 months, without penalty.

Neil Doncaster wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © SNS Group Ross

They are also demanding independent expertise be brought in to review the SPFL for areas of innovation, development and supporter engagement. They are especially scathing of a system that has allowed their own club to head up reconstruction 
talks, which they reckon will always be doomed to failure because they stand accused of naked self-interest.

Kilgour added: “Ann Budge was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. If she hadn’t accepted the league’s offer to take charge of reconstruction then critics would have said we had our chance.

“Ann quite rightly talks about Hearts becoming ‘fan owned, but not fan run.’ On that same basis we believe 
the SPFL should be ‘club owned, but not club run’.”

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Budge has been forced to fend off criticism from lower league clubs who reckon she wants them out of senior football and Ayr United chairman Lachlan Cameron labelled her “smug and condescending” earlier this week.

Recent comments, along with the voting pattern of those who wanted to call the season early, have not been lost on the wider Hearts support.

Kilgour said: “I’ve had numerous emails, calls and messages from fellow fans who want to boycott clubs such as Ayr United and Dundee, as well as clubs in the Premiership who voted against us.

“It’s not the route we’d like to go down, but I understand the feeling. These are people who follow the club home and away, arrange their holidays around winter training camps and take days off work to go to Dingwall in midweek.”

The last resort for Hearts is the legal route and Kilgour insists the club will have no option if reconstruction isn’t agreed.

He said: “Ann has a duty, as a director and on behalf of the 
club, to go down that route and we’re urging her to take every step possible.

“The case for compensation is very winnable, not just for Hearts but also Partick Thistle, Stranraer and all those clubs who were denied the chance of promotion.

“The very fact we may have to take that course of action is a damning indictment of how the SPFL has been run. The Scottish game is a laughing stock.”

Craig Levein predicts vengeful Hearts Premiership return as he warns clubs will reap what they sow .
The former Tynecastle insists the decision to relegate the Jambos, Partick Thistle and Stranraer "stinks". The Jambos’ exit from the Premiership was confirmed after Ann Budge 's league reconstruction proposal was booted out before it got to the resolution stage.

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