Ian Murray has taken Lachlan Cameron to task after the Ayr United chairman told Hearts to roll over and accept their fate.

The MP for Edinburgh South was staggered to read Cameron’s justification for criticism of Ann Budge’s reconstruction proposals.

The Somerset Park supremo criticised his Tynecastle counterpart for fighting tooth and nail for a reconstruction plan that would see them play top-flight football next season.

The Jambos were controversially relegated when the league was called early and have been dropped into the Championship even though it may not kick off until later in the year.

Cameron said: “Hearts ended up getting relegated so I don’t think you can change the rules just because it’s Hearts.”

But Murray, a former chairman of the Foundation of Hearts, said: “The point he’s spectacularly missing is the rules were changed to demote Hearts in the first place. It’s infuriating to end up in a situation where Hearts have been demoted to a different division and, worse still, one in which football might not be played until later in the year. It’s extraordinary.

“The only reason for changing the rules would be to try to save Scottish football and look after the best
interests of the national game as a whole.

“The only question the SPFL executive should be asking themselves as they sit in their ivory towers is what they can do to ensure every single club is in the best possible shape to get through this crisis.

“The SPFL gives the impression it starts every sentence with a two-letter word – ‘no’. There’s also a four-letter word missing in all of this – ‘fans’.

“They are never mentioned by the SPFL, only by its individual member clubs. The supporters are the ones missing out because the bigwigs have no drive or imagination.”

Murray feels Budge has been caught between a rock and a hard place, left to fight for a new set-up involving 42 or 44 clubs while being forced to fend off allegations of self-interest.

He said: “If the issue is the Sky contract, that the broadcaster is insisting on a 12-team league starting on August 1 or it renegotiates its £127million deal then fine, tell us. If reconstruction is dead in the water because it’s going to be too expensive to renegotiate then fine, we move on. Say it publicly and we can deal with the consequences.

“If it’s not the case then everyone should be working towards having as many clubs as possible ready to play football by August 1, with financial support if necessary.

“As always, the language in Scottish football has been over aggressive and it’s because the SPFL haven’t taken a lead role.

“An individual club has been challenged to resolve the situation on behalf of everyone else when we have a governing body whose chief executive earns more money than the president of the United States.

“The SPFL are wrong to have put the onus on Hearts, or any other club, to come up with a solution under the guise that it’s a members’ organisation. The SPFL should have sat everyone down in a virtual room at the very start and bashed it all out.

“Instead all they have done is muddy the waters of a potential pathway out of this crisis by allowing it to be framed as Hearts trying to prevent relegation.

“Of course, Hearts are making all the running in this because Hearts are one of the clubs most closely affected and sporting integrity must be maintained.

“The SPFL should have ensured the maximum number of clubs are supported and that means no relegation, as well as promotion for everyone who was at the top of the league or in a play-off place.

“No one should have been demoted. For goodness sake, Partick Thistle were put down for effectively having a game in hand because they’d done so well in the Scottish Cup.”

Ayr’s Cameron criticised Budge when she has brought in a white knight in James Anderson whose philanthropy may yet benefit the Championship outfit.

Murray added: “I’d be very surprised if Ayr aren’t one of the beneficiaries from the kindness of James and the most important thing is every senior club in Scotland that wants to play football at the earliest opportunity plays.

“It’s remarkable. Every other sector in the world is currently asking themselves how they get through the Covid-19 crisis with as little damage as possible.

“Meanwhile, the SPFL are asking, ‘How can we do what we’ve always done because that’s the way we’ve always done it?’ Ridiculous.

“If the SPFL continues on this route, with no Championship football until October, the job losses across the game will be significant, including young players who are not exactly on Cristiano Ronaldo salaries.

“The preservation of jobs should be the guiding force in all of this, not the chairman of Ayr deciding he should have a go at Ann Budge. He should be on the phone to other chairmen and football figures instead, asking for everyone to work together to get as many clubs as possible safely through this very difficult period.”