Partick Thistle accepts cruel relegation despite match-in-hand

Partick Thistle
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Scottish Championship side Partick Thistle entered the coronavirus suspension with reason to believe it would escape the drop zone when the season reached its conclusion.

The Glaswegian side sat 10th in the Championship, which is the second-tier’s only automatic relegation spot. They were two points back of the ninth-place playoff spot and five back of safe footing with a match-in-hand on both Queen of the South and Alloa, respectively.

Both teams were left on Thistle’s fixture list, and they went a combined 1W-1L-4D in their previous six matches against Queens and Alloa.

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So Thistle is understandably enraged with the cancelation of the rest of their season and resulting relegation to the League 1. The decision sends their 144-year-old club into the third division for the first time since 2006, but has made a move that’s bound to engender support across the world.

If Thistle were to take legal action they’d have a really strong case, but in doing so the club would sink a lot of money away from its staff while also temporarily stopping the release of awards money to clubs who need it. A number of clubs in Scotland have made embarrassing arguments and/or actions, so it’s refreshing and even shocking to see Thistle react with some grace.

From the club’s official site:

Thistle has always lived in the real world so we also looked at the bigger picture of the life-changing pandemic we find ourselves in. The resulting lockdown is challenging the very existence of some clubs. If we were to take this action to court, there is a risk that might stop the release of much-needed monies to those clubs on Friday.

That’s a step too far for us. Regardless of what’s been inflicted on Thistle, we can’t be responsible for pushing even one club to the brink. It would be hypocritical of us to have espoused “do no harm” as a reason why we shouldn’t be relegated and then do exactly that.

We aren’t looking for sympathy, we don’t need it. We are a well-run, debt-free club with a proud history of rolling with the punches. We may be down but we are not out. When football returns, we will be here, ready to play, regardless of the league we are in.”

They may not be looking for sympathy, but they’ve added an admirer over here. Professional sports are full of fierce competitors and we’re not sure we’d swallow the understandable grief and vow to pick ourselves up by the proverbial bootstraps.

There’s silver lining, too: The club may yet be added back to the Championship as Dundee and others have argued for an enlarged Premiership which would also require more teams for the second tier. Maybe Thistle has assurances of this, but we won’t assume that.