THE SPFL’s declaration they had no power to punish Rangers again for their use of Employee Benefit Trusts after the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of HMRC in the Big Tax Case in 2017 was greeted with outrage.

There was an appetite among a considerable number of Scottish football fans, those of their rivals anyway, to strip the Ibrox club of all of the titles and trophies they had won between 2001 and 2010 while their players were being remunerated with EBTs.

Yet, after taking legal advice from Gerry Moynihan QC, the SPFL decided that, because the SPL had no rules in place that enabled them to discipline their members for the non-payment of taxes during that period, no further action could be taken. 

An SPL commission headed by Lord Nimmo-Smith in 2013 found the Glasgow outfit had been in breach of player registration rules and fined them £250,000.

“It’s not an area which the SPL as was, or the SPFL as is now, is allowed to get into,” said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster at the time. “Neither UEFA, nor other leagues across Europe, had rules to cover this sort of thing. Rules concerning financial fair play and non-payment of tax are fairly recent innovations.”

Those who were still baying for blood in the wake of Rangers’ meltdown in 2012 - an event they are still, more than eight years on, striving to recover from – were not impressed to say the least and the ill-feeling and suspicion lingers to this day.

The SPFL regulations now, however, are quite different as a direct result of the sorry affair. If a club is found to have defaulted on their tax obligations during the course of a title success or cup triumph they face having the honour taken away from them.

It shows they can learn invaluable lessons from past disputes and introduce measures which ensure the issues which led to them arising can be dealt with far more effectively should they recur. 

That is certainly what they are endeavouring to do by asking all 42 of their affiliated clubs for their views on how to proceed if the 2020/21 campaign has to be curtailed at some stage in the coming months due to disruption caused by Covid-19.

A questionnaire has been circulated in an attempt to determine, among other things, how many games need to be played for a season to be considered valid and if the SPFL board should have the ability to declare final placings in a division if it is and void a league if it is not.

The move comes after a resolution that would have given the board the ability to address coronavirus related disruption without having rule amendments approved by clubs was defeated back in July.

The unhappiness with how the organisation handled the curtailment of last season was clearly a factor in that. And little wonder. The final outcome that was arrived at was, even if Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer were extremely hard done by, the best solution amid an unprecedented crisis. But the way it was handled left a great deal to be desired.

Having the clubs, a number of whom have intimated they have changed their stance since the summer following numerous positive tests and match postponements, themselves decide what route to go down is a far better approach. They should be involved in the process, not dictated to from up on high. That was one of the reasons for such widespread discontent last time around.

  A new resolution will, as with all SPFL votes, require 75 per cent of the members at each level to back it. That is nine of the 12 Premiership clubs, 8 of the 10 Championship clubs and 15 of the 20 League One and League Two clubs. Getting the necessary backing may not be easy to achieve. It certainly wasn’t last time around.

But if it is the clubs themselves who devise the plan of action it stands a far better chance of getting through. Having a clearly defined contingency plan in place will mean all of the acrimony and controversy that contaminated the game in this country for months is avoided in the unfortunate event the season is once more unable to be completed.

SPFL chief executive Doncaster, chairman Murdoch MacLennan and lawyer Rod McKenzie were lambasted from all sides during the bitter civil war that was waged following the football shutdown. At no stage, though, did any of their critics suggest they were negligent for failing to have prepared for the first global pandemic in a century.

There is no excuse, however, for not doing so now. Players who are tested on a regular basis and working in bio-secure environments are becoming infected and being forced to quarantine at an alarming rate. Every few days some fixture or other is being called off as a result. It would be irresponsible not to anticipate the unthinkable prospect of another curtailment.   

If a new resolution can’t be agreed upon or isn’t passed then clubs who miss out on a title, lose out on promotion or end up being relegated will have no cause to complain about their fate.