SO, is it a smoking gun after all? Or is it just a damp water pistol?

This was the debate that was raging in Scottish football during the build-up to the release of Rangers’ dossier, where the Ibrox club argued that “Scottish football's credibility has been badly damaged by recent events and the resolution proposed by the SPFL Board and approved by members is seriously compromised”.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right now: the first half of Rangers’ assertion is absolutely correct. There cannot be a single onlooker who has watched the events of the last few weeks unfold and concluded that this is an example of good governance. So much of the all-important detail has been obscured, lost, or only came to light after the resolution to conclude the lower leagues – and continue to monitor the situation in the Premiership – was ratified.

The decision to publish the results of the ballot before Dundee had cast their vote was farcical in every sense. There isn’t a democratic voting procedure in the world that would follow suit. The issue of whether or not concluding the season was the only means of releasing prize money to cash-strapped clubs was only clarified last weekend, when SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster appeared on the BBC’s Sportsound radio programme.

Clubs weren’t given adequate time to read the 118-page briefing document and formulate a response before the vote went ahead. And when it came to the voting procedure itself, clubs were given the option to change from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’, but not vice-versa. The grievances that clubs such as Partick Thistle and Stranraer – both of whom were relegated as a result of the vote, despite having a quarter of the season left to play – have against the governing body are legitimate.

All of these things undermine the credibility of Scottish football. All of these matters are problematic. And, unquestionably, all of these issues demand serious answers. Scottish football and good governance rarely go hand in hand, and this situation was no exception. In this regard, Rangers are right.

But is the resolution seriously compromised? It seems a bit of a stretch to suggest so. Ultimately, clubs were voting for the release of prize money. That’s all that mattered to them. Particularly lower down the SPFL pyramid, teams that have existed for over a hundred years are fighting for their very survival. Clubs are primarily concerned – and rightly so – of simply coming out the other side of this crisis intact. They needed the cash, and concluding the season was the only way to do so.

The release of SPFL funding could only have happened in theory, not in practice, as Doncaster explained. The governing body would not have been able to carry out their due diligence on each individual loan to clubs, and there would be no guarantee that it would have ever been repaid. It would be no surprise if some clubs go out of business before a ball is kicked again in Scotland and for each one that does, it would have been the SPFL that paid the price had the loans been granted. The governing body’s priority is the safeguarding of the future of Scottish football and had loans been issued without terminating the season, it would have done the precise opposite.

The SPFL board in part exists to protect the organisation’s finances, and the decision they came to was the logical one. No bank or lending organisation would issue loans with no guarantee of the money’s return – and in this instance, the result of those fiscal calculations may even have revealed that not only was there no guarantee, but it was in fact likely that some clubs could fold. The SPFL has been burned by such a decision before, Doncaster explained, pointing to the example of Gretna in the 2007/08 season.

The biggest ‘revelation’ from the dossier was the allegation that Doncaster knew that the SPFL could be liable to the tune of £10million if the season was brought to an end, due to refunds being made to BT Sport and Sky for the unfulfilled fixtures.

But isn’t this blindingly obvious? In the event that the season is concluded early, would we really expect television companies to continue to pay to broadcast matches that aren’t being played? The heads of each of the 42 SPFL clubs are all businesspeople – there is simply no way that they would not have realised this. The precise figure may have been in doubt, but the fact that a refund would be due could not have possibly escaped their attention. It’s the same story with the “substantial difficulties” surrounding league reconstruction. The dossier states that this requires the consent of the SPFL’s broadcasting partners – again, is there a single football fan in Scotland that did not know that Sky will demand four Old Firm games a season? It is a stumbling block, sure, but hardly an insurmountable one.

Similarly, it is no secret that clubs conspired before, during and – in Dundee’s case – after the vote was conducted. Club chairmen and CEOs discuss relatively inconsequential ballots among themselves prior to casting their votes; is it really any surprise to learn that they did so during the most important vote that Scottish football has seen in decades?

Have the SPFL covered themselves in glory during this debacle? Absolutely not, and I defy you to find a single person who thinks they have acted well throughout this fiasco. Was the vote conducted to a decent standard? Again, few would suggest that it was. The real burning question at the heart of all of this is whether the SPFL are involved in a nefarious plot to further their own vague agenda, or if they are simply a poorly run organisation. All the available evidence points to the latter conclusion. Quite simply, incompetence should not be equated with corruption.