NEIL Doncaster, the SPFL chief executive, last night insisted that voiding the Ladbrokes Premiership season due to the coronavirus crisis would have led to “highly-damaging” compensation claims and could potentially have jeopardised Scottish clubs’ involvement in Europe next season.

The call to decide the Championship, League One and League Two on a points per game basis and give the SPFL board the power to do the same in the top flight at a later date has angered many supporters in this country – not least fans of second-placed Rangers.

The Ibrox club were 13 points behind leaders Celtic - with a game in hand, two Old Firm derbies and nine matches in total to be played - when football in this country was suspended on March 13 and could mathematically still have caught their city rivals.

The KNVB, football’s governing body in the Netherlands, took the decision to cancel the Eredivisie on Friday and not declare Ajax, who were leading AZ Alkmaar on goal difference, Dutch champions after sporting events were banned until September.

However, Doncaster, who is hopeful the SPFL will be better placed to make a decision on how to proceed with the top flight after a meeting with the Scottish government early next week, is adamant his organisation took the correct course of action.

“UEFA have made it clear that clubs have to be put forward for Europe on sporting merit,” he said. “If you voiding a league it’s quite hard to see how teams can be put forward on sporting merit. We feel deciding a league on a points per game basis is sporting merit.

“There are all sorts of other factors. If it’s voided you would find a number of clubs and the league would face highly-damaging claims for a season that never happened. It could have led potentially to claims being made by partners of the league and of clubs themselves.”

UEFA are keen for leagues to be played to a finish despite the Covid-19 outbreak - but last week they admitted leagues across Europe could be terminated if there was an “official order” prohibiting football being played.

Scottish sports minister Joe Fitzpatrick is set to hold talks with the SFA, SPFL, Scottish Rugby and Sportscotland on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to understanding the government’s position,” said Doncaster.

Rangers had put forward an alternative resolution on the end of the season proposing that clubs were loaned money while discussions were held over how to finish. However, it was deemed not to be effective by the SPFL board.

The Ibrox club have since demanded that chief executive Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie are suspended and have requisitioned a general meeting along with Hearts and Stranraer in an attempt to get an independent inquiry.

However, the chief executive stressed again that Rangers were offered legal advice by the SPFL and reiterated their plan was unworkable.

“There was a desire to work with Rangers and any other club that wanted to put a resolution forward,” he said. “Rod was asked to work with the Rangers company secretary (James Blair) to get something effective.

“But ultimately it wasn’t. What it kept on coming back to was the board offering loans. As Murdoch’s statement (SPFL chairman MacLennan wrote an open letter to all 42 senior clubs yesterday) makes very clear, you can’t”.

Doncaster was widely criticised after Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack revealed the SPFL chief executive had told him that 75 per cent of Premiership clubs had voted in favour of the resolution on the end of the season 20 minutes before the requested 5pm deadline on Friday, April 10.

However, he insisted there was nothing untoward in his actions because he had been in constant contact with Cormack in the build-up to the vote and the United States-based businessman had been attempting to receive assurances the top flight clubs, not the board, would decide the fate of the Premiership.

“There was communication between me and a large number of clubs as there was between different chairmen and CEOs of all sorts of clubs in Scotland,” he said. “You have got to remember that in the ordinary course of events the vote would be held in the auditorium at Hampden and would be done by a show of hands.”

The prospect of this season being played to a finish behind closed doors and next season kicking off without any crowds inside Scottish grounds due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has led to uncertainty over the sale of season tickets and raised the possibility that fans could be offered games online if they are unable to attend in person.

Doncaster, who has this week appointed to an 11-strong broadcasting and innovation sub-group, refused to rule any possibility out amid an unprecedented global crisis.

“You need to keep an open mind about what can be done in Scotland,” he said. “It is a very different environment to south of the border. We are all about the live stadium experience and play within the ground. We have set up a working group to work with broadcasters and engage with clubs and see what we can achieve.”

Doncaster, his colleagues and his associates have been savaged by pundits, the media, managers, directors and supporters for how they have handled the vote on the controversial resolution on the end of the season.

But the Englishman, who took over at the SPL in 2009, believes the Rangers crisis, when the Ibrox club had to restart in the bottom tier after a cataclysmic financial implosion, was a more demanding spell. “I think 2012 was in some ways more challenging,” he said. “That was extremely difficult for all sorts of reasons. But this has certainly not been straightforward.”

Doncaster is hopeful all clubs can put the acrimony and bitterness of recent weeks behind them and work together to ensure that Scottish football survives coronavirus and emerges on the other side unscathed. “It’s absolutely vital,” he said. “We have got a common enemy in front of us, Covid-19.”