Inverness CT chief reveals Dundee messages in SPFL vote controversy

Inverness CT chief executive Scot Gardiner laid out the communications between Championship clubs via WhatsApp
Inverness CT chief executive Scot Gardiner laid out the communications between Championship clubs via WhatsApp

A remarkable Saturday afternoon in Scottish football started with confusion about whether Dundee had cast their decisive vote on league plans to curtail the season, and ended with Rangers calling for the suspension of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

The Dens Park club intended to vote against the proposal, but the league say their slip never arrived.

There has been silence from the club, while Rangers say they have evidence that raises "serious concerns" over the voting process.

So what on earth happened in the lead-up to the Friday evening deadline?

Of the nine Championships clubs who have voted, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Partick Thistle are the two who went against the plans. And they were relying on Dundee's promise to vote with them to bring down the resolution, which requires eight of the 10 second-tier clubs to favour it.

The SPFL have already secured enough votes from the Premiership and Leagues One and Two.

Speaking to BBC Scotland's Sportsound, Inverness CT chief executive Scot Gardiner revealed there was a WhatsApp group of Championship clubs used to communicate plans on voting.

We take you through what he laid out.

Showing solidarity

Gardiner said Inverness CT, Partick Thistle and Dundee had co-ordinated a plan to vote together in solidarity, but due to logistical reasons agreed it was impractical.

"Partick Thistle, ourselves and Dundee had all spoken openly and said we could not vote for this resolution," he said.

"We agreed we wouldn't vote at the same time, but we just send in our vote and we would all circulate that vote so everyone could see it."

'DFC vote submitted'

"Thistle were the first club to vote," Gardiner continued. "[Chief executive] Gerry Britton sent his voting slip to all of us - not just the three clubs, there were other clubs in this WhatsApp group so we're not the only ones who've seen this - Partick Thistle sent their voting slip at 14:52 which was signed and dated.

"At 16:24 we received Dundee's voting slip signed and dated and we all received that, I've got the photograph of that voting slip signed and dated by John [Nelms].

"At 16:39 I signed and dated our voting slip, and I published that to the group and I submitted our vote.

"At 16:52 we then got a message from Dundee's club secretary [Eric Drysdale], and the final line is 'DFC vote submitted'. That's the facts of the matter as we were concerned."

'It became quite alarming'

BBC Scotland has also seen a voting slip rejecting the SPFL's plans which was signed by Dundee managing director John Nelms
BBC Scotland has seen a voting slip rejecting the SPFL's plans which was signed by Dundee managing director John Nelms

Gardiner said he spoke to executives at Partick Thistle, who were quite emotional given the circumstances, but added there was relief the votes had been cast. But soon, word began to filter through that Dundee's vote had not come in yet.

At 17:52, the SPFL released a statement declaring the votes, with only two Championship clubs stated as against the motion.

According to the league, Dundee emailed them after the deadline saying: "Please do not consider our vote cast at this time."

"I was saying to people there must be a glitch in communication because I have the vote in front of me," said Gardiner. "I was looking at it. So I was quite relaxed.

"We then received a message at 18:07 from the Dundee secretary saying that their vote wasn't received but he gave us his solemn word that it was sent. At that stage it was quite alarming. I replied with a question at 18:12.

"Jacqui [Low, chairman] from Partick Thistle said the 5pm deadline isn't statutory, it's advisory, you can just resend it and it still counts, as the deadline isn't for 28 days.

"At that stage we were told he [Dundee's club secretary Drysdale] had been instructed [by John Nelms] to hold off on resubmitting their vote."

'We're all in the dark'

Gardiner described the conversation at this point as "pretty fraught", and laid out his messages to Dundee.

"I replied to Eric's message, at 18:23, saying 'If the SPFL contacted you to say we have not received your vote Eric, wouldn't you have just resent it?' He said 'I would have, I am extremely confused.'

"He replies saying no one contacted him and he assumed the vote had been cast and was waiting an acknowledgement. He then heard the SPFL's statement, and he was cursing who hadn't voted."

After this, Gardiner says clubs have heard nothing further from Dundee in the group.

"It's radio silence," he added. "We have no idea what's going on now, it's baffling to us.

"We are now all in the dark. I have not spoken to the league. I don't know what's happening. Only one club knows in relation to this. I have it here, Dundee vote submitted. After that, who knows."

BBC Scotland contacted Dundee for comment, but the club would not do so at this time.

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