Kane Hemmings faces an uncertain future at Dundee after refusing to take a pay cut amid financial hardship at Dens Park sparked by the coronavirus shutdown.
The 29-year-old is the only member of James McPake’s first-team squad who hasn’t agreed new terms proposed by the Dark Blues hierarchy as they fight to balance the books.
Last week it emerged Dee were prepared to invoke “clause 12” in player deals, allowing clubs to stop payments if the SFA halt football.
Those yet to take temporary drops in salary were sent emails warning them of the consequences of failing to accept salary reductions.
The clause states: “In the event of the Scottish FA deciding that the game shall be suspended, either entirely or in any district or districts as provided for in the articles of association of the Scottish FA, this agreement shall be correspondingly suspended, unless the club is exempted from such suspension or the club otherwise determines.”
Dundee players were given a deadline of midnight on Friday to respond.
A day later former Rangers kid Hemmings – in his second spell in the City of Discovery – was named as the only Dark Blues ace refusing to say ‘yes’ to cuts.
He is backed by PFA Scotland, who asked a QC to look at “clause 12” earlier this year when Hearts threatened to invoke it following advice to teams from SPFL lawyer Rod McKenzie.
Union boss Fraser Wishart has urged clubs and their stars to work together to find solutions during the Covid-19 crisis.
But unless Hemmings has a change of heart, Dundee will move to suspend his contract.
Last month Jordan McGhee replaced Josh Meekings as skipper after agreeing fresh terms, with new vice-captain Paul McGowan also accepting salary reductions.
Meekings, 27, had come to the end of his contract and left as a free agent, having failed to strike a deal with Dee chiefs.
Hemmings – who departed for Oxford United in the summer of 2016 – returned to Dundee on a three-year contract last August.
He scored ten goals in 27 appearances in 2019/20 before the campaign was cut short.
The Dark Blues squad has been on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since April, with the salary of furloughed players topped up by the club.
But they have lost revenue worth over £500,000 since football was suspended a month earlier and face at least three more months of severely limited income, with the Championship not set to kick off until October.
A month ago, managing director John Nelms spoke of the “difficult conversations” and “tough decisions” that lay ahead.
Ex-Man United, Rangers and Northern Ireland defender Jimmy Nicholl, boss McPake’s No2 last season, and sports scientist Cammy McDermid were the first victims of cost-cutting at Dens while the youth academy also faces a restructure.
Speaking on BBC Sportsound, former Hibs, Inverness, Falkirk and Raith manager John Hughes urged players to make sacrifices.
He said: “You have to help your club. If the club’s struggling, put a bit back in.
“I’m all for deferrals and wage cuts to help clubs, as long as it’s not wage cuts and then they go out and sign new players and all that stuff. You have to be very careful.
“But it’s a pandemic and you have to keep your club in business.”
Former Dundee United midfielder John Rankin also had his say on the dilemma facing the Dundee player – not named on BBC radio – yet to commit to taking a pay cut.
He said: “We don’t know the situation. He might need every penny he gets in that month.
“He could have a young family, a mortgage…you just don’t know that rebel’s situation.”
On June 19, Dundee chief Nelms addressed the impact of the football shutdown in a message to fans.
He said: “We have been working diligently, doing all we can to sustain the club for future generations.
“It has not been easy negotiating our way through an unprecedented situation, but we were committed to keeping our staff fully paid throughout the brunt of the crisis, topping up their wages whilst furloughed.
“Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we have lost out on revenues equating to over a half a million pounds.
“Although we have a start date for the 2020/21 season, there is no clear indication of when we will be able to have you, the life blood of Dundee Football Club, back in your seats.
“Some optimists think the stands can be filled in October. Others say it is likely to be in 2021.
“Either way, there has been, and there will continue to be, a significant and unsustainable stress on the club’s finances.
“Our latest budgets show that in addition to the half-million pound loss for the shortened 2019/20 season, our revenues for the upcoming season will be more than halved as a result of the measures taken to contain coronavirus.
“While we have the strongest possible bespoke resilience wording in our insurance policy, we do not expect to see any initial payment on our current insurance quantum until the Financial Conduct Authority obtains a ruling from the High Court.
“This hearing will determine the extent of liability the individual insurers have and is scheduled for late July/early August.
“It is our sincere hope that the insurance comes through, and for the full amount claimed, but unfortunately there are no guarantees for any of it.
“In the event that our claim is successful, we will be in a stronger financial position; however, it will be months before we recover our loss of revenue from the past financial year, and it is likely we will not be able to collect on this financial year’s losses until well into the 20/21 season.”