HEARTS and Partick Thistle are ‘incredulous’ after being served a Notice of Complaint by the Scottish Football Association. 

The clubs were hit with the charge after taking their dispute with the SPFL over their respective relegations to the Court of Session.

Both clubs are accused of breaching rule 78 of the judicial panel protocols, which states that ‘no member or Associated Person shall take a dispute which is referable to arbitration . . . to a court of law except as expressly permitted’.

The principle hearing date for both clubs is August 6, with punishments ranging from a small fine to a maximum penalty of 'termination of membership' if found guilty, although the latter of those reprimands is understood to be highly unlikely to be handed down.

In a joint statement, Hearts and Thistle raged against the timing of the charge ahead of the commencement of the SFA arbitration process next week.

The statement read: “We are incredulous to have received a Notice of Complaint from the SFA in the circumstances. 

“It is oppressive of them to require submissions from both clubs by 20 July when we are, in terms of their own articles of association, actively engaged in arbitration.

“As our focus must be squarely on that, we have already requested the SFA to review the timing to allow us to be properly prepared and represented. That is the very least we should expect from the process.”

The period cited by the Scottish FA runs from June 17, when the petition against the SPFL was lodged, and July 3, when Lord Clark judged that the case must be referred to arbitration rather than heard in open court.  

The clubs pursued a legal avenue - as Hearts owner Ann Budge had repeatedly threatened - when reconstruction talks finally broke down on June 15 due to only 16 of 42 clubs backing a 14-10-10-10 structure.  

The Jambos and Jags were seeking to overturn their relegations from the Premiership and Championship respectively following the controversial SPFL members vote in April.

That vote has gone down in infamy due to Dundee’s U-turn and is likely to be the focus of much discussion and analysis during the arbitration process.   

In the event they do not succeed on that count, they are pursuing a combined £10 million in compensation. 

Although that will no longer be decided in a courtroom, those remain the goals for both parties when the Scottish FA’s independent arbitration process begins. 

Promoted trio Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were all named in the petition due to being beneficiaries of the vote to curtail the 2019/20 and have felt obliged to defend their positions. 

They revealed last week that their legals costs could run to £150,000 by the time the saga is concluded.