THE revelation of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster’s contract terms by Herald Sport is particularly eye-catching from a business journalist’s perspective because of his two-year notice period.

Herald Sport revealed it could cost the SPFL in the region of £800,000 if it were to part company with Mr Doncaster, given the league’s longstanding chief executive has the two-year notice period.

According to the latest SPFL accounts, Herald Sport reported, Mr Doncaster’s remuneration was £392,000 in 2022 after bonuses were factored in, up from £388,000 the previous year.

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Contracts of longer than one year are, of course, commonplace on the pitch. And football managers of big clubs often have lengthy notice periods.

Many will remember the issue of long notice periods, and attendant pay-offs, was in the spotlight when Berti Vogts exited as Scotland manager in the first decade of the millennium.

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However, as a business journalist used to analysing the minutiae of the contracts of chief executives of publicly quoted companies, the two-year notice period for Mr Doncaster revealed by Herald Sport sticks out like a sore thumb.

Mr Doncaster’s remuneration of £392,000 last year, while people are perfectly entitled to form a view of whether they think this is excessive or not, does not look particularly out of line for running an organisation of the SPFL’s size and complexity.

Notice periods of longer than one year did figure regularly decades ago for companies in stock market listed companies and were often understandably bones of contention, particularly when it came to the departure of bosses and bumper pay-offs or “golden parachutes”.

Of course, the SPFL is not a publicly quoted entity so it is not covered by the UK Corporate Governance Code, which applies to companies with a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange.

That said, the principles of the code do seem to strike a fair balance between protecting a company executive in the event of them being ousted, while also limiting the resultant pay-off to a year’s remuneration at most. It is therefore worth reflecting on them, even though they apply to a different arena, because they could surely be considered to represent best practice in many contexts.

Furthermore, in the context of stock market listed companies, pay-offs these days will often be reduced, notably if a chief executive finds another job during what will usually be a one-year notice period.

The code states: “The remuneration committee should carefully consider what compensation commitments (including pension contributions and all other elements) their directors’ terms of appointment would entail in the event of early termination. The aim should be to avoid rewarding poor performance. They should take a robust line on reducing compensation to reflect departing directors’ obligations to mitigate loss.

“Notice or contract periods should be set at one year or less. If it is necessary to offer longer notice or contract periods to new directors recruited from outside, such periods should reduce to one year or less after the initial period.”