Dundee managing director John Nelms says he has no regrets over last summer’s controversial SPFL vote U-turn that sent Scottish football into a frenzy.
After the coronavirus pandemic halted the game last March, clubs voted on the governing body’s resolution to bring an end to the season.
Dundee originally cast a vote against, along with a number of other clubs, only for their emailed voting slip to end up in the SPFL’s spam folder.
With rules giving a 28-day period for voting, Nelms had the opportunity to reconsider.
Eventually Dundee cast the decisive vote that saw the SPFL resolution pass, changing their original position and angering many.
Titles were subsequently awarded to Celtic, Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers, while Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer were relegated.
In delaying his decision, Nelms says he came to understand how close some clubs were to “going to the sword” under the financial pressures brought by the pandemic.
And in changing his vote, he allowed money to be paid out from the governing body to all clubs.
Asked if he had any regrets, Nelms replied: “No.
“When I changed my vote I was absolutely, vehemently against it because the way it was presented to us.
“We weren’t trying to help each other out, we didn’t know everything and it was very rushed.
“I wanted to understand more. The fact it gave me the opportunity to pause helped me make my decision – I got more information, I got to talk to a lot people.
‘There was never going to be a good answer’
“People were really struggling at that time. I came to understand it was the only option that would be accepted by the majority of the people.
“At that time of year, you are living hand to mouth in terms of people coming in the gates.
“It wasn’t scaremongering because when you get to that time in the season, the money is thin.
“There were clubs really struggling who needed the money.
“I took the decision to change my vote. The Premiership and board dealt with what would happen there.
“Out of all the votes, around 87% of the teams voted that way. I had a better understanding of how people would handle it.
“I still think we should have helped each other out a bit more – that’s what I was trying to accomplish.
If we had clubs going to the sword, what would we have left at the end of the day? That’s what I couldn’t live with.
“If I didn’t vote that way, would four or five clubs go out of business?
“We didn’t have any good choices. We have 42 clubs you have to try and get facing in the same direction.
“When I changed my vote I thought that was the only opportunity to make that happen, get the vote in and get people paid.
“There will still be some debate but there was never going to be a good answer.”
Speaking last summer after the vote was cast, Nelms indicated his strong support for league reconstruction.
His hope then was to find a way, through a total revamp of the game, that wouldn’t see any club relegated.
However, he says any hope of that was quickly extinguished once it was clear an agreement between all clubs couldn’t be reached.
“Back then we didn’t have enough information,” he added.
“Hindsight is 20/20.
“We were trying to figure out things every day.
“It went from a vote to potentially reconstruction then that wasn’t going to happen and we’re wondering what the league might look like, when would fans be back.
“So you were trying to put structure to something where there are no parameters.
“It was unbelievably difficult.
“My regret is I wish there was a much better solution but I don’t think there was.”
Earlier this week Dundee were promoted back to the top flight after beating Kilmarnock in the Premiership play-off final.
They finished second to Championship winners Hearts in the regular league campaign and will face the Jambos again in the Premiership next season.
Relations between the clubs soured last year after Dundee’s U-turn saw the Edinburgh side relegated.
Nelms, though, says the decision for the Premiership to stop was up to top-flight clubs and not down to his change of heart.
“I didn’t vote for the Premiership to stop, they did and it was unanimous. There was a vote and it stopped,” he said.
“They tried to figure out how to get the games on but we didn’t know about testing and all we can do now back then.
“There was nothing they could do and they voted to stop.
“We’ve done what we can do to help other clubs. There are people we have sent to Hearts and, hopefully, that’s helped.
“There are bigger issues. I understand being relegated is horrific, because we have been.
“But at the end of the day they are back where they are supposed to be and a club that’s financially strong, I imagine.”
Though some clubs were angered by Nelms’ actions, the American says he has received congratulatory messages from nearly every club in the country following Dundee’s win over Kilmarnock.
He said: “After promotion, nearly everybody has sent words of congratulations across the board.
“A lot of people did across the globe, it was amazing how many people said well done.”