Football: Scottish breakaway descends into farce

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The Independent Online
The proposed breakaway by top Scottish clubs was thrown into further chaos yesterday when an important ballot was dismissed as "pointless and meaningless" by the breakaway sides.

The Scottish Football League management committee had voted in favour of requesting the institution of court proceedings on behalf of the League against the president and the five elected representatives of the Premier Division teams. The proposal was carried by six votes to five, but the Premier Division sides claim that the ballot was affected by the non-attendance of Eric Riley, because of a delay in flights from the United States.

The six want to overturn a decision at the last committee meeting when the Premier League breakaway 10 got the go-ahead to put their wish to retire from the league to a special meeting of all clubs next Tuesday.

But, even before that action is taken in the courts, Premier representatives have called another meeting of the management committee next Tuesday to overturn what happened today.

Lex Gold, spokesman for the Premier teams, was swift to denounce the vote. "Today's vote is both pointless and meaningless. Having taken the detailed advice of senior counsel, we are extremely confident that this declarator will not be granted by any court as it, in effect, seeks to ask the SFL to sue itself. This is beyond the powers of the League Management Committee.

"At today's meeting, we tabled legal advice prior to the vote being taken which showed that the motion was incompetent. This was done to allow the representatives from divisions one, two and three to pull back from the brink.

"We are going to proceed on the time frame we were on and that decision will be shown to be incompetent, so it will not be getting in the way.

"You cannot have clubs suing themselves, which is what they are looking for. And, technically, it is not going to make any difference. Alongside that, we are now starting to get discussions with a range of clubs - although not necessarily in the formal representative phase we have been going through.

"We are just saying we are wasting time with this procedural wranglings. Be aware that it is going to happen."

The Celtic defender Alan Stubbs has not fractured the bone around an eye socket, as was first feared. Stubbs was carried off just 15 minutes into Saturday's Old Firm meeting with Rangers at Ibrox after an accidental mid-air collision with Marco Negri.

Tests were delayed until yesterday to allow the swelling around the eye to settle down. The verdict will be a relief to Stubbs, who had feared being out for up to six weeks after the initial reading of the damage from the Celtic physiotherapist, Brian Scott.

Such was the intense pain that Stubbs admitted he feared a break. However, despite the positive medical report, Stubbs will not be in line for an immediate return as heavy bruising remains around the eye.

The main concern will be in heading the ball again, and the former Bolton man is unlikely to have recovered by this time next week.

That effectively rules him out of contention for this season's second Old Firm league game at Parkhead on 19 November. A more realistic target is the Scottish Coca-Cola Cup final against Dundee United at Ibrox on 30 November.

The Celtic general manager Jock Brown said: "I am pleased to say the specialist has confirmed Alan does not have a fracture. However, the eye socket remains swollen and tender. The timescale for recovery is uncertain, his condition will be monitored daily."