ANN Budge’s threat to take legal action against the SPFL if Hearts are relegated from the Ladbrokes Premiership before the 2019/20 season is completed was last night branded “absolute nonsense” by one former top flight board member.

And the owner of the Tynecastle club, who were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership when football was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been told to abide by the governing body’s decisions or leave the league.

Budge, who has asked staff and players to take a 50 per cent pay cut in order to avoid a financial meltdown, is unhappy at the prospect of the league placings when the shutdown was brought in deciding which team goes down.

Asked by Sky Sports earlier this month if she would consider taking legal action if Hearts are relegated, she said: “Yes, I would have to because I fundamentally disagree with it.”

However, Stewart Gilmour, the former St Mirren chairman who served on the old SPL board during his time at the Paisley club, is vehemently opposed to involving lawyers in football matters and believes the bottom-placed Premiership side must accept their fate.

“The thought of Hearts taking legal action is interesting,” he said. “This is a league that you are invited to join away at the beginning. Clubs taking legal action just shouldn’t be allowed. If you don’t want to go by the league rules or what the league decides that’s fine, go and play in another league.

“Legal action is what’s caused the problems in the disciplinary system with the compliance officer. It’s not about football any more, it’s about legalities. It was set up originally to keep legalities out of football so that football made its decisions about football and football kept the legal process out of football.

“Now everybody turns up at these things with a lawyer. It becomes a legal case. It has made a real farce of the disciplinary system. We are getting legal decisions, not football decisions.

“I was involved when the compliance officer was introduced. At the beginning it worked really well under Vincent Lunny. Vincent was exceptionally well respected by the clubs and players because he questioned officials, he questioned things that happened. They didn’t like that, but it was fair and everyone realised it was fair. It has now become farcical.

“The legalities are what has caused most of the problems. This carry on of Hearts threatening to take legal action for me is just nonsense, absolute nonsense. If you don’t want to abide by what the league decides and the league rules then go and play somewhere else, go and find another league.”

Gilmour, who handed control of St Mirren to Gordon Scott and the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association back in 2016, admitted it would be cruel if Hearts, who still have eight games to play, are relegated by an SPFL decision.

But the former businessman, who is still a season ticket holder at the Simple Digital Arena, feels if the Covid-19 outbreak prevents the 2019/20 league season being played to a finish then the Tynecastle club should go down.

“It is a very difficult decision for the directors of the SPFL to make, what happens at the end of the season,” he said. “It would certainly be harsh (if Hearts were relegated), but we are in uncharted territory at the moment.

“It’s not as if we’ve played six games, or eight games. We have played 30 games. We have played 30 of 38 games. That is a huge amount. There is only 20 per cent of the games to go. After 30 games they have got the poorest record. If the league doesn’t finish they are the team that should be relegated, as simple as that.”