Raith Rovers chairman Bill Clark has revealed he took legal advice prior to extending the contracts of every player at Stark’s Park and is “comfortable” with the decision.
It was confirmed today that the Fifers will retain their entire squad until July 31 regardless of whether they are destined to be part of John McGlynn’s plans in the Championship next term.
Rovers will continue to take advantage of the government’s job retention scheme, allowing them to claim back 80 per cent of the salaries for those on furlough.
Raith’s stance differs from the approach taken by local rivals Dunfermline, who released 17 players last week amid suggestions that offering deals on a short-term basis could risk the wrath of HMRC.
Queen of the South and Ross County have also decided against contract extensions.
Clark said: “We are very aware that is totally the opposite route of a number of clubs who have simply released a number of players.
“We are comfortable with our position. It’s the same old story: you get one legal opinion that says one thing, then someone else comes in with a different legal opinion.
“I can say we are very satisfied with the advice we have been given and feel we can justify our actions. I’m very confident we will not be challenged.
“People may question the ethics but we are doing what is right for our players and, indeed, our whole community.”
Clark gave the green light to the new deals following a lengthy Rovers board meeting, citing a “moral obligation” to the players who helped the club win the League 1 title.
Only nine of Rovers’ first-team were initially contracted beyond June 10 and, with manager John McGlynn unable to carry out his duties while on furlough, he is legally unable to make decisions regarding who he wants to keep and release.
Clark says the only solution was to keep the group together in the meantime.
He continued: “The entire squad played a part in winning the League 1 title and get back to the Championship.
“We had a long board meeting where we discussed the ethics of the issue and our moral obligation to our players.
“And because we are not in a position to discuss which players we will retain we came to the decision that the fair thing to do was to give the players another two months’ security and income.
“We have young players starting their careers, we have players with young families and we have one boy who is in the process of having a house built – and I am very content that we are supporting our staff.”
Clark, meanwhile, believes Raith’s resolve to look after their employees will ensure they emerge from the Covid-19 crisis with their reputation – and, as a consequence, their drawing power – enhanced.
He added: “Some of the players have already been in touch to say thanks for looking after their interests.
“I would hope our reputation will continue to be a positive one among players throughout Scotland.
“This is a club that tries to look after its players.”