Scottish football faces ‘catastrophic’ collapse in WEEKS as knockout fan leaves panicked clubs praying for Holyrood’s rescue


Scottish football could be weeks away from a ‘catastrophic’ collapse after Boris Johnson revealed fans could be excluded from the game for the next six months.The grave warning came from a high-profile figure as part of a special Sports record investigating the potentially ruinous ramifications of Tuesday’s string of new coronavirus restrictions approved simultaneously at Westminster and Holyrood.

And we can reveal distraught clubs across the country – and all four divisions – now fear they will be forced to stick to the wall unless they receive an emergency cash rescue from the Scottish government.

After announcing in the House of Commons that the return of supporters could be suspended until April 2021, the Prime Minister announced that talks on a crisis funding program would take place between the main English sports bodies and the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports.

But while England’s mega-rich Premier League bosses are expected to be involved in the talks, there are currently no such plans for Scottish clubs to receive a similar aid from the Edinburgh government.

Participation in Scottish football is a decentralized matter, so the final decision rests with Holrood, but clubs believe Premier Nicola Sturgeon is extremely unlikely to let fans return before Westminster.

And a Premiership general manager told us: “It has been a very dark day for professional gaming in this country and the consequences will be dire unless urgent government intervention is taken.

“Six months without fans? Let’s be frank, we don’t have six months. The clubs are going to go bankrupt – a lot of them – and probably some of the biggest clubs we have. The next two months are going to be critical.

“First, the academies will have to be stopped, player development will have to be stopped and all community coaching programs will have to be stopped.

“Then, after all these cuts, the clubs take turns to go to the wall.

“This is the scenario our game is now facing. If there are no fans, it will take a government grant to replace the lost income. Otherwise, Scottish football as we know it simply will not survive.

Another top CEO added: “If we get money from the government, the games can continue and the clubs will survive. If there is no money and no games, the club cannot survive.

“Scottish football cannot be expected to exist in the air, so urgent assistance will be needed. It has become increasingly clear to everyone in the game that the supporters will not be back on our pitches anytime soon.

Sports record This week revealed that concerns were already growing about the ability of the lower three leagues to launch their campaigns on schedule on October 6 – with particular fears for the sustainability of League One and League Two clubs.

But one championship club told us, “The numbers just aren’t going to add up to this level either.

“We have already been warned that we could be ordered to pay for Covid-19 testing before we get government approval to play matches. And now we could look at six months without any receipt at the door. How can we expect to pay player salaries while covering the cost of these additional tests when we have no match day income?

“The Championship could start as planned next month, but there is no way that all 10 clubs will still be standing at the end of the season without additional funding.

“It could actually kill the lower levels of the Scottish game and if that happens I don’t know if there will be a way to go back.”

Record of sport It is understood that there was an emergency Joint Response Group meeting late Tuesday afternoon to discuss developments on both sides of the border as fears grow that the Scottish game will be left for account.

A prominent executive has spoken of his financial fears over the long-term lockdown of Scottish football fans.

Stephen Robinson is aiming for a euro race to compensate for the difficulties that would ensue if the supporters stayed away.

And the Motherwell boss has revealed the Lanarkshire club would already be in trouble without the Europa League
qualification and the combined sales of £ 4.5million of Steelmen starlets James Scott and David Turnbull.

Fir Park’s side fly to Israel today for their third qualifying round against Hapoel Be’er Sheva with the incentive for a home play-off against Czech team Viktoria Plzen or Danish club SonderjyskE.

Clubs are racking up at least £ 2.5million to reach the lucrative group stage of second tier European competition and Robinson would like to win such windfall.

It comes at a time when clubs fear fans won’t be coming back through the turnstiles anytime soon with the Prime Minister tightening lockdown restrictions in the fight against Covid-19.

Robbo said: “Europe have already brought money to the club through two rounds and finishing third last season has helped tremendously.

“The longer we can stay in the competition, the more beneficial it will be for the club. No fan would be a big blow. Like all other football clubs, financially this is going to be huge for us.

“We don’t have a big benefactor, we don’t have anyone pumping millions of pounds into the club and without Scott and Turnbull’s sales this year we would be in trouble.

“If you add that to third place and the European race, that’s probably what keeps the club going. We need the fans as soon as possible, as do every other club in the league.

“But in the context of the world and what’s going on there, we have to be governed by the Prime Minister and whatever decisions she makes.

Robinson drove Motherwell to two cup finals two years ago and, after facing Northern Ireland sides Glentoran and Coleraine in the first two rounds, admitted that Be’er Sheva’s test would rank alongside them.

He said: “It will be up there with the two cup finals, but the only thing missing is the fans and without that the European chances don’t look quite the same. This one is a little different as we are traveling further to a stadium that you are not used to so it has a different feel and it is a shame the fans are not there to enjoy it.

“Our motivation must be to try to stay in the competition as long as possible to try to bring people back to enjoy it.”


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