PLANS earlier this week for a rare early night were quickly shelved when a last flick through the TV channels revealed that Happy Gilmore was on. And that was that. I was staying up.

I must have watched it at least 25 times. Probably more. Once when I had a part-time job working in the local video rental shop – remember those? – we played it on a constant loop. Never got bored of it.

Adam Sandler is not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s not a film ever likely to find its way into any lists of the greatest movies of all time. But this comedy cult classic about a failed ice hockey player who becomes a golfer who can drive a ball further than most people drive their cars never fails to raise a smile.

My first thought was to message my brother to tell him it was on. We aren’t always great at keeping in touch but daft movies is definitely one of the things we have in common. And, sure enough, it was not long before we were firing lines back and forward to each other, something which must have irritated the rest of the family members on the group chat.

Like Happy and Bob Barker in the movie, my brother and I fought a lot as kids. One time almost fatally. That’s what happens when you share a room with someone for the best part of two decades.

Minor things quickly become a source of irritation and you find yourself squabbling all the time, often over the pettiest of issues. Ultimately, though, you soon realise you are part of the same family and need to get along. Constantly bickering is never going to be productive for anyone in the long run.

Such is the current state of play within Scottish football. Disputes and arguments are naturally part of the game but the fall-out between some clubs has become nasty, verging on vitriolic of late.

The stakes are, of course, incredibly high. Four months on since the season was halted prematurely, and we are no closer to achieving a resolution that would even come close to suiting everyone.

Hearts and Partick Thistle’s fight against their – and Stranraer’s – enforced relegation will rumble on again this week, this time in front of the Scottish FA’s independent panel.

Legal rather than football experts will decide the fate of the three clubs, as well as that of the three divisional champions.

If the clubs pursuing the action can’t get their relegation overturned, they will look for substantial compensation to ease the pain of being dumped into a lower division. An eye-watering total of £10m has been mentioned.

If the decision of the arbitration panel isn’t to the liking of one party or the other, there is the possibility then under Scots Law to challenge it and draw the whole process out even longer.

The only real winners from this sorry mess once it eventually concludes will be the lawyers making fortunes as Scottish football continues to tear itself apart.

Hearts and Thistle’s beef against the SPFL is understandable if they feel they have been unfairly treated. They were never given the chance to save their skins on the park.

It does seem wholly unfair, however, that Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers have also been dragged into the matter simply because they finished champions of their respective decisions.

The price of the trio fighting against having their titles stripped is proving prohibitive, with estimated costs set to reach in the region of £150,000. That sum, Raith claimed, could put them out of business if they had to contribute their share.  

To help cover those legal bills other SPFL clubs have been asked to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign. Hearts and Thistle responded by saying that putting out the begging bowl “created further division” and didn’t tie in with SPFL rules. What a mess.

Some clubs have donated. Others, like Falkirk who would have been promoted had reconstruction been voted through, have steadfastly refused to help.

As Scottish football descends into a civil war with the new season just weeks away, clubs are being forced into taking one side or the other. Given the size of Hearts and Thistle’s compensation claims should they end up going down that road, everyone has skin in this particular game.

Hearts and Thistle insist they are “not in direct dispute” with the three champions but it feels a somewhat hollow claim. It is not a coincidence, also, that the two United fans embarking on a sponsored walk to help raise funds for the fight have chosen Tynecastle as their starting-off point. It will be interesting to see what sort of welcome awaits them there next Saturday.

Regardless of how this all eventually pans out, wounds are being created that will take some time to heal, if at all. The resentment from some of the other clubs at Hearts and Thistle’s actions is clear to see. Similarly, that pair won’t forget in a hurry who helped them and who stood against them in their time of need.

At an already difficult time for the game as it looks to emerge from the pandemic, this sense of rancour and division is destructive and damaging. The Scottish football family has fought often enough over the years. Eventually, though, they need to find a way to pull together once again.