HEARTS and Partick Thistle could have their respective memberships to the SPFL revoked as a result of bringing legal proceedings against the governing body, according to the organisation’s lawyer.

Gerry Moynihan QC, who was representing the SPFL at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, argued that the articles of association warn that any member who takes the body to court could face expulsion from the professional set-up as a maximum penalty.

Moynihan went on to explain that it was the SPFL’s preference that the case could be settled by arbitration outside the courtroom, arguing that this would be the most expedient option available to the parties involved.

This echoed the argument put forward by Garry Borland QC, who was representing Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers – the three clubs whose promotion would be denied if Hearts and Thistle’s relegations were overturned.

Borland pointed to the two-month delay between the clubs’ relegation being confirmed and the petition being lodged at the court, arguing that the pair were to blame for the relatively short time frame in which the matter must be resolved.

Additionally, he asserted that the decision is clearly a football dispute as the clubs are arguing over their demotion, and therefore falls under the SFA's jurisdiction – and that both Hearts and Thistle have a contractual obligation to comply with the SPFL’s rules.

He explained that this was his interpretation of the SFA and SPFL articles of association - the rules that the 42 member clubs are bound by.

Borland added that he believes the matter “is best left to the football authorities”, and said that under his interpretation, clubs could only bring legal action against the SPFL with the express approval of the SFA.

With the Premiership set to restart on August 1, Lord Clark agreed that concluding the matter before the new season kicks off is of vital importance.

However, David Thomson QC – who is representing Hearts and Partick Thistle – responded by saying that the two clubs had acted as quickly as possible, lodging their petition two days after the bid for league reconstruction failed.

Thomson took issue with Borland’s assertion that the matter should be resolved by the SFA, claiming that there is no basis for this to happen in the current SPFL articles of association. Citing the Arbitration Act of 2010, he said: "Any provision in an arbitration agreement which prevents the bringing of legal proceedings is void in relation to any proceedings the court refuses to sist [delay]."

Thomson also pointed out that Partick Thistle had taken the SPL, the predecessor to the SPFL, to the Court of Session in 2004.

He added that the decision to take the matter to court was only done as a “last resort” once it became clear league reconstruction would not be implemented, and was a statutory right held by clubs as members. The two clubs did “everything in their power to avoid litigation”, the court heard.

Thomson also said that any arbitration process by the SFA could take up to 28 days to organise, therefore suggesting that the most expedient solution to the issue is to go through court.

The case sat for four hours and will continue at 2pm tomorrow, where Thomson will give detailed submissions explaining his argument, followed by further submissions from Borland and Moynihan.