Consideration of the very future of the Scottish Premier League has been postponed to the end of the month. Do not expect a definitive decision then. The SPL and its chief executive will sit in the dock facing hostile public opinion this morning but Neil Doncaster's admission that he and the clubs are "on the sidelines" regarding the unfolding saga of Rangers was as truthful as it was unacceptable to the mass of Scottish support expecting clarity from yesterday's meeting.
The shambles cannot be laid at the door of the SPL. This is an organisation that now has to walk carefully through perilous territory.
In order of no particular importance, Rangers face an inquiry over payments to players by the SPL, are appealing sanctions imposed by the Scottish Football Association and are facing the outcome of a tax case. Any definitive answer on financial fair play yesterday may have been premature and subject to legal challenge.
The delay gives Bill Miller, the US tycoon, more time to construct his newco and Doncaster's answers on this move were the most revealing on a day when clarity was at a premium.
On sanctions against a new company, he said: "In the ordinary course of events, a newco would come in without penalties unless any are agreed to come with it."
This opens the door for a newco Rangers to march back into the SPL with hardly a financial bruise, far less the 10-point penalties of reductions in financial rights that have been proposed. This apparent softening in attitude may have been induced by independent legal advice allegedly offered to the SPL. Reports that a QC had told the body that any sanctions could be illegal appeared in Sunday newspapers.
"I don't think it is appropriate to comment on any legal advice that may or may not have been received by the board," said Doncaster yesterday. This is very far short of a denial.
His insistence of the almost non-existence of a difference between a newco and administration heightened the impression that the way is becoming clearer for Rangers to stay in the SPL in another form. The move to remove the decision from the SPL board is further evidence that obstacles to Rangers are being dismantled. Rangers now need five clubs to oppose their membership of the SPL as the newco vote will be taken on the basis of an 8-4 verdict being sufficient. It would be difficult indeed to imagine five clubs barring the way.
The removal of the onus of making a decision from the board was explained by Doncaster who said the clubs on the board would "find themselves in a very difficult position". He added: "Against that backdrop, all 11 clubs felt the right and appropriate thing to do was for the clubs in the general meeting to make a decision on the matter. It was raised by someone who is not on the board."
The board members are Derek Weir of Motherwell, Steve Brown of St Johnstone, Stephen Thompson of Dundee United and Eric Riley of Celtic, plus Doncaster and Ralph Topping, the SPL chairman.
Doncaster, who could make no predictions about when the SPL inquiry into alleged dual payments would be finalised, was also far from clear about what would be expected of a prospective owner.
"Whatever application comes in from Bill Miller or any other bidder for a transfer of the share, there may be certain undertakings that bidder is prepared to give. The board or the members will have to consider the whole package and that is what we will do. I don't want to speculate on that."
One problem for Doncaster and the SPL is that Rangers are now driving the process. The adjournment yesterday came as a direct result of a request from the administrators, Duff & Phelps. "They expressed a view that any new owner of Rangers should be involved in discussing these issues," he said.
The chief executive simply cannot have a timeline over what sanctions, possibly none, that will be imposed on Rangers and on when a vote can be taken to allow a newco into the league. The SPL must simply wait on an application to come, whenever.
This places Scottish football in limbo. The television deal with Sky is still unsigned, fixtures for next season have to be arranged and the mass of football fans have still to decide whether to renew season tickets.
Doncaster conceded that there was a large constituency of fans who wanted severe sanctions taken against Rangers, including those who opposed any election of a newco to the SPL. "It is a very emotive issue and I have spoken to a lot of people, including lots of supporters, about the situation," he said. He was at pains to stress that "sporting integrity"' was "very, very important" but a clearer hint to his thinking may have been the observation that owners were "concerned with the survival of their clubs".
He was adamant that no assurances had been given to Miller over sanctions that may or may not be imposed, adding: "I have had one conversation with Bill Miller, which was around a fortnight ago. That was not a direct conversation. It was a call he was involved in."
The somewhat weary verdict of Doncaster, who had been involved in talks for five and a half hours yesterday, was: "We are where we are."
To which the only reply the fan can give is: "Yes, but where are we?"