'Heartfelt' interview prompted SFA email consultation with Championship clubs to continue the season

SFA Chief Executive Ian MaxwellSFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell
SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell’s email to Championship clubs, asking for them if they wanted to join League One and Two in a football closedown was ‘an opportunity to consult’, the association has said.

News broke last night of a survey of opinions being undertaken among the second-tier clubs' interest in continuing the season or suspending the season, as League One and Two and non-SPFL divisions were forced to do earlier this week.

However the Scottish FA has now said the email was ‘intended as a communication to clubs’ to demonstrate a ‘willingness to listen and be responsive’ and was prompted by a powerful personal perspective seen by the Joint Response Group in the media this week.

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A statement from the governing body’s chief executive explained: “Scottish FA is acutely aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on the national game: on clubs and, even more profoundly, on individuals.

Hampden Park (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)Hampden Park (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Hampden Park (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“One interview in the media this week prompted a wide-ranging discussion at the Joint Response Group meeting on the ongoing impact of the virus, specifically to those who continue to play and coach within the elite sporting exemption afforded to football. It made people stop, think and take note of a heartfelt personal perspective.

“Given the need for the Championship clubs to undertake a considerable testing regime in order to continue, there was a strong view that Championship clubs should be asked to confirm or otherwise their willingness to play on during the initial three-week suspension. This was predominantly to ensure those clubs and their staff did not feel that they have been thrown-in to a testing regime against their will. It was an opportunity to consult; a process that industries including ours – and governments – wrestle with given the immediacy of decision-making required to thwart new strains of this virus.

“Scottish football remains resilient in the face of COVID-19 but inevitably tough decisions elicit a range of views on their implementation. Decisions – and, yes, missteps – will continue to be made as we navigate uncharted terrain.

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“The decision to suspend was taken by the board to help mitigate the growing spread of the virus and in light of Scottish Government restrictions, which have been strengthened still in the days since the suspension was confirmed.

“There is no perfect solution, but a sufficiently clear distinction exists between the full-time professional game and part-time professional game to enable football to take a responsible and measured approach to minimising the potential community transmission. The suspension is for an initial three weeks and is fully endorsed by Scottish Government.

“The Scottish FA empathises with the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Last night’s email to Championship clubs was, above all, intended to demonstrate our willingness to listen and be responsive.

“It was intended as a communication to clubs but we understand that in these times, everything is a matter of public interest and, above all, public health.”

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League One and Two as well as all leagues outside the top two SPFL divisions were suspended until the end of the month by the Scottish FA on Monday, a move which has angered clubs and sections of the national game.

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