Dundee could face a number of possible sanctions from the Scottish Football League when they go into administration, including a points deduction, after the governing body tightened up its regulations in the wake of the Livingston relegation debacle in the summer of 2009.
The SFL previously left decisions on punishments for clubs going into administration to its board’s discretion. But a change to the rules now goes someway towards setting fixed penalties for clubs going into administration.
However, the rule remains ambiguous on what the exact penalty may be, leaving open the possibility for varying sanctions to be imposed. A points deduction is by no means a definite penalty and, if it is applied, the amount of points Dundee would lose remains the decision of the league board.
Rule 44.5 in the SFL's handbook, which relates to the functions and powers of the board in such a situation, states: “The board shall have full power to deal with as it thinks fit, including power to deduct championship points before or during a season and/or to impose a player registration embargo on a member whom it finds to be guilty of conduct contrary to the interests of the league and its members, or which is potentially likely to prejudice the orderly progress of the league championship and/or the League Challenge Cup competition in any season.
“For the avoidance of doubt, such conduct may include a member being in or taking steps to enter or being subject to proceedings which may result in the member entering administration, liquidation, sequestration, or having a receiver or judicial factor or trustee appointed to it or to substantially all of its assets, or becoming subject to any other form of insolvency procedure or arrangement or compromise with or for the benefit of its creditors.”
There have been fears that Dundee could be dealt with in the same way as Livingston, who were demoted to the Third Division prior to the commencement of the 2009/10 season whilst in administration. However, league rules firmly only allow such a scenario to occur between league campaigns and not during the course of a season.
If, in a worst case scenario, Dundee go out of business across the course of the season and cease to exist, all of their First Division results will be declared void, something which could have a dramatic effect on the shape of the table.
If results were expunged before the next round of matches, Raith Rovers would move to the top of the league. Dunfermline would drop from first to third and Partick would drop to bottom, with Morton moving up.
In such a scenario, the division would continue with nine teams until the end of the season. The second lowest club in the First Division would then retain their place in the league, avoiding a relegation play-off. The top team in the Second Division would be promoted as normal but would take Dundee’s place, with the bottom club in the First Division taking place in the play-offs.
If a phoenix club was set up in the absence of Dundee Football Club from the Scottish Football League, the new club would have to apply to become a member and would not be admitted until the start of the 2011/12 season.