Clubs draw up attack plan in bid to tackle covid crisis

As covid restrictions take their toll, there are appeals for greater support

By Moira Gordon
Thursday, 1st October 2020, 7:30 am
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster joined meeting with top tier clubs to discuss devastating impact of covid restrictions. Photo: Ross Parker / SNS Group
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster joined meeting with top tier clubs to discuss devastating impact of covid restrictions. Photo: Ross Parker / SNS Group

Scottish clubs have agreed to take a two-pronged approach in their fight for survival during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Representatives of the Premiership sides held a meeting on Wednesday and were joined by Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPFL, and his SFA counterpart Ian Maxwell. They sought to address the spiralling costs faced by clubs as they are forced to play fixtures without revenue from gate receipts and hospitality while carrying out expensive Covid-19 testing.

The situation, which has put a strain on clubs since leagues were halted and the country was placed into lockdown in March, has reached a devastating level since the new season started minus supporters.

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Many had hoped that shutting out fans would be a temporary measure and that a relaxing of restrictions would see their gradual return.

The success of pilot games with 300 fans, staged by Aberdeen and Ross County, had fuelled that belief, albeit with an understanding that numbers would be limited and strict social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks would apply.

But those plans have been placed on hold and clubs who had budgeted for fans being back in grounds by October, including lower league teams who postponed the start of the season in anticipation of the return of supporters, are now fearful of how to negotiate the next few months and see through the remainder of the campaign without some kind of financial assistance.

Wednesday’s meeting was a call to arms, with clubs agreeing to mobilise and work together.

The dual aim is to get across an unequivocal message to their own supporters as well as politicians as they draw up a clear timeline detailing exactly when the situation will move from dire to critical – or even fatal – if the current protocols are not loosened.

More meetings are planned over the next couple of weeks as the clubs plan the best way to secure the ongoing backing of football fans and win government support.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster had warned that clubs face going to the wall if no action is taken, while those that survive could take up to a decade to recover from the current monetary blows.

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