Hearts manager Robbie Neilson: Football must continue - it's all some people have during Covid pandemic
Robbie Neilson is convinced people need football as a distraction from the Covid 19 pandemic to maintain positive mental health.
The Hearts manager fully supports the decision to continue with the Scottish Premiership and Championship whilst other leagues are suspended until February 1.
The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday that all divisions below the top two must stop as Covid cases spiral out of control. Scottish Cup ties have also been postponed.
Premiership and Championship can go on provided all teams test players and staff for the virus weekly. Hearts are relieved to avoid another halt after last March’s debacle and Neilson explained that football is a necessary diversion for fans.
“We are delighted to keep it going. I believe football has a big part to play in society by helping people through this. It's a distraction from what is going on,” he told the Evening News.
“People need things to keep their minds active – watching games on TV, reading about football and talking about it. If football isn't there, there's very little for people to talk about or do or see.
“There is a pandemic going on and everyone has to be careful, but we also need distractions in life. I think it's really important we keep football going for everyone.
“A lot of people are just sitting in their house unable to get out to work or do anything. There is nothing really to look forward to until the end of this.
“At least having football to watch and talk about keeps them active, keeps them engaged and maintains the social side of it.”
Hearts players on loan at clubs in Scotland’s lower divisions are affected by the temporary shutdown. These include midfielders Connor Smith and Harry Cochrane, plus defenders Cammy Logan and Chris Hamilton.
“I'm disappointed for the lower-league teams because it will be a very tough time for them in the weeks ahead. You have to hope that they get through this okay,” said Neilson.
“We have a number of younger players out on loan who won't get any football for the next few weeks. However, it's good that the Premiership and Championship can continue at least.”