IF anything, petty point-scoring over who has won what, and when, feels as if it has become a trifling irrelevance in the face of a global pandemic. It won’t stop Scottish football from attempting to eat itself, though. 

No more so than in the days that are to come – and not least when we are expected to have a denouement to the 2019-20 lower-league season shortly after 5pm this evening that will undoubtedly have ramifications for the top flight thereafter.

With a number of lower-league outfits on the brink financially – it is believed some relatively high-profile clubs won’t last beyond June if money from the SPFL is not released urgently – the body announced on Wednesday plans to throw them a financial life-jacket. The boat will be rocked whatever happens. 

Championship club Partick Thistle will be relegated; so too will League One outfit Stranraer, while Falkirk, a point behind Raith Rovers at the top of the same division, will miss out on promotion. 

It is by no means certain that the vote will pass with clubs said to be “50-50” on the proposals with those sitting in second place and those propping up their respective tables, not surprisingly, believed to be against the plans. 

It will act as a plebiscite for what will happen next in the Premiership. A precedent will have been set if 75 per cent of clubs vote for the proposals which will end the Championship, League 1 and League 2 effective immediately thus triggering end-of-season, payments to every club. Following that precedent, Celtic would be crowned champions and Hearts would be relegated. It prompted a pointed response from Rangers on Wednesday evening. 

Yet the outrage emanating from Ibrox does not stand up to substantial scrutiny. 

On February 14, Steven Gerrard said his team would never give up in the title race after a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock but by the time his side were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Hearts a little more than two weeks later he appeared to be considering his future at the club, saying: “I am desperate to win here, but looking from the side today I didn’t get the impression that the feeling among my players was the same.” 

Back then, what feels like an eternity ago, it was taken as an admission that the league had long since gone for Rangers. Privately, Rangers and their fans will be delighted at any outcome that calls the league early.

The club receives its prize money for finishing second and secures a place in next season’s Europa League while some supporters get to place an asterisk of their own beside Celtic’s league win – one to point and pick at when incessant talk over tainted titles inevitably resumes on social media and message boards. 

For those of a Rangers persuasion back in 2012, the consensus was that “sporting integrity” was a cloak of convenience to administer maximum damage to the club. The reality was that the SPL rule book was quite clear on what should happen with newly formed entities. 

In this latest instance, we are told that the concept of sporting integrity is to be upheld in the most vigorous manner. “Nothing is more important than protecting the future of every club in Scotland as we are cognisant that this has a direct impact upon people’s livelihoods,” a statement read. 

“It is abhorrent that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the current SPFL proposals were implemented. We must future proof the Scottish game. 

“Any restructure of the SPFL or other solutions to the current impasse must be afforded time to scrutinise in detail and consider all options. The consequences of forcing through change without due care and attention will have severe consequences for the Scottish game.” 

A simple solution would be to expand the league structure from 42 to 44, or even 46 clubs. Opposition to this has traditionally come from clubs worried about diluting the pot of money on offer. Yet, when Motherwell, Rangers and Celtic received their recent mid-season interim payments from the league the clubs got £395,000. Some clubs in League 2 were given £1500. 

That is an issue for Neil Doncaster to address but whether he does is another matter. With a new Sky TV deal around the corner, BT Sport may come looking for monies owed in front loaded TV payments but this opportunity gives Doncaster and his member clubs the chance to reinvent the product, end the four-game marathons clubs face each season, regionalise leagues, and create a more exciting, dynamic offering. 

The appetite for change is in the air. Recently Steve Farrell, the Stranraer manager, suggested that an expansion that involved promoting four clubs from each division plus two each from the Lowland and Highland Leagues would solve the concerns surrounding the issue of relegation affecting his own club and those of Hearts, Partick Thistle and Brechin City. 

The Glebe Park outfit provide a case in point. Their chairman Ken Ferguson sits on the SPFL Board and SPFL Competitions Working Group. It presents a conflict of interests when his own club is in the mix for relegation out of League 2. 

It is unavoidable when a body is made up of representatives from clubs, nevertheless it is not a good look when circumstances conspire against you and one of those board members is overseeing difficult decisions concerning his own club. 

For example, the proposed decision to scrap the division’s promotion/relegation play-off has infuriated the Highland League. Last season, Cove Rangers emerged from that particularly elongated process after two-legged wins against East Kilbride and Berwick Rangers before establishing a 13-point lead in League 2 table before Covid-19 halted play. 

Perhaps mindful of that, Brora Rangers will be denied the opportunity to emulate them. 

In any other league, finishing bottom would mean instant relegation yet in Scotland the club occupying the basement in League 2 is given a get-out-of-jail card in the form of a play-off; one final, baffling chance at a reward following a season of abject failure. 

Indeed, it happens across the SPFL structure. It smacks of protectionism and creates the false impression that clubs are worthy of salvation. With Partick and Stranraer demoted, it also prompts claims of hypocrisy when Brechin are deemed safe. 

Those clubs in the Lowland League such as Kelty Hearts will hardly be ecstatic about it either, having invested significantly in a promotion push. And, perhaps, therein lies part of the problem: there are just too many clubs or, more accurately, ones afraid of meaningful change. 

It was an issue when league reconstruction was last on the table in 2013 and remains one now, there is an aversion to the unknown, a fear of signing a suicide note. 

But it might just provide Scottish football with a lifeline when all of this is done.