Hearts will be pursuing damages worth several million pounds from the Scottish Professional Football League, a matter amplified by the 2020-21 Championship being reduced to a 27-game season.
Legal objections to the abandonment of league seasons in France and Belgium have strengthened Hearts’ determination according to.
“Now that all other avenues are closed, we are left with no choice but to proceed with a legal challenge,” Hearts said. “The club has tried throughout these last few months to avoid this course of action but we must now do the right thing by our supporters, our employees, our players and our sponsors, all of whom have been unwavering in their commitment and support. We can hold our heads up high as we have acted at all times with integrity, common sense and with the best interests of Scottish football at heart.
“While many weeks have been wasted in trying to find a solution, we must now formally challenge this outcome. The club can confirm that the necessary steps have been taken to begin this legal challenge.
“To our amazing fans, we say that we cannot, and will not, sit idly by and watch the decisions made in the past few months further damage Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Thank you for fighting for us, now allow us to do the same for you.”
Hearts were four-point adrift when coronavirus stopped the season with eight fixtures to play. A subsequent, highly controversial vote by the SPFL allowed its board to identify placings as final.
After that transpired, it was widely discussed expanding the Premiership from 12 to 14 teams but never thought likely to receive the necessary level of support.
Then, on Monday the SPFL formally shut down that path, with Hearts wasting no time in confirming their next move.
The club has now launched legal action against the SPFL, after the reconstruction talks collapsed and their relegation from the top flight was sealed.
Moreover, the SPFL said 16 of its 42 clubs offered indicative support for a 14-team Premiership, as that would have added Kelty and Brora to League 2 to maintain the overall figure.
Neil Doncaster, the SPFL’s chief executive, said: “Now that we have a confirmed structure for next season, the SPFL’s fixturing team will begin work on the Premiership fixture list, which will start on the weekend of 1 August, and the Championship fixture list, which will start on the weekend of 17 October.”
Hearts responded that they were “disappointed, yet sadly not surprised” league reorganisation had failed. “We thank those who were open-minded, pragmatic and willing to come together to try and reach a fair outcome for all. Sadly, there were too few of us.”
The on-field by-product is Daniel Stendel’s probable and impending departure as head coach. The club’s record goalscorer John Robertson and Neil McCann will be the leading candidates to replace the German.
Meanwhile, League 1, where Partick are now destined, has no current start date.
Partick, withdrawn from the Championship on a point-by-game basis despite being two Queen of the South adrift while holding a game in hand, is expected to update their supporters soon.