ESTABLISHING a consensus to maintain the peace has never been trickier. Being stuck at home for 23 hours a day has taken the already onerous challenge of preserving civil relations and lifted to it a new level altogether.

Bumping into each other at every corner of the house while going increasingly stir crazy have combined to produce a quite toxic brew. It is a simmering concoction of frustration, disaffection and outright hostility.

Even Mo Mowlam at the height of her persuasive powers during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations would have had her work cut out trying to stop the constant squabbling that has become a regular feature of family life during lockdown.

“I want that device! Give me that phone! It’s my turn for the TV! I don’t want to go for a walk! I don’t want that for dinner! Can we not get takeaway? I don’t want a bath!”

And once I’ve aired all my grievances, usually the kids have things they want to

moan about, too. The notion that this will be a period remembered fondly in future years was clearly uttered by someone enjoying the luxury of living alone in peaceful sanctuary.

Scottish football has been getting itself all hot and bothered of late, too. Any sports editor who had been wondering how they might fill their pages when the league went into shutdown needn’t have worried. Our game’s capacity for in-fighting, recriminations and statement-writing with the point buried about 20 paragraphs deep remains unparalleled.

For once, this was a crisis not of its own making. Few could have foreseen a global pandemic that would place everything on hold. But it could have been dealt with a whole lot better.

There was never going to be a solution that would have appeased everybody. And, as previously established in a column about four episodes of this soap opera ago, clubs will always act out of self-interest. Anyone expecting them not to would be as well telling lions not to bite people. It’s just what they do.

Anyone looking to persuade clubs to do something that might not be in their best interests, therefore, was going to have to be either especially charming or willing to indulge in a spot of horse-trading. If you vote for this, then we’ll try to get you that. Give others something to at least consider.

And yet there has been a noticeable lack of both bonhomie and compromise among those lookin;hjli,g to win others over during this seemingly never-ending saga.

Take Hearts, for example. Leading the way on emergency reconstruction plans to try

to spare themselves – and others – from what would be an admittedly unjust relegation was always going to require the best of negotiation and diplomacy skills. And yet we got neither from Ann Budge.

Admitting early on that her preference would be for a “temporary adjustment” to the league set-up didn’t win her many backers from the offset. Save Hearts this season and then relegate three Premiership clubs next year was never likely to find support from the likes of St Mirren, Hamilton Accies, or Ross County.

Although, given how wretched they have been throughout this season, it was also bold to assume that the Tynecastle side wouldn’t have been involved in another relegation battle next year were they to gain a reprieve this time around.

Money talks, too. In a loud voice. Shuffling the pack without adjusting the prize money on offer per league placing was also not likely to find too many voting in favour, especially if two additional clubs were to be welcomed in at the bottom of the pile. Clubs are reluctant to sacrifice revenue at the best of times and asking some to take a heavy cut in a time of crisis and uncertainty was never going to fly.

Few could blame Hearts for trying to find a way to solve this conundrum but, with many clubs fearing for their long-time safety, this was not the time to be reconstructing the divisions. At least not without either some goodwill or a solution that would ease others’ worries. And there was neither.

The reaction from some Hearts fans was to lash out at the other clubs for failing to bend to their will. There was, of course, mention once again of 1986 as proof that it is all an ongoing conspiracy against them. Sometimes, though, good grace and a period of self-reflection would be more appropriate.

They are not the only guilty party throughout this extended period of bickering. The SPFL themselves have not exactly been overflowing in their contrition with regards to the botched vote and Rangers’ valid concerns at how that whole process was handled.

The Ibrox club, too, have failed to bring others with them in their heavy-handed approach to dealing with this matter. If this were a boxing match, Rangers would have been better off with a consistent, steady approach and look to win their argument on points. Doing so may have won more clubs over to their way of thinking. Instead they’ve been swinging away wildly looking for a knock-out blow that they couldn’t deliver.

One day we will return to normal life and it would be nice to think Scottish football will approach the resumption of action having learned valuable lessons on the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. But you wouldn’t bet on it.