Football in Scotland outwith the SPFL Premiership and Championship will be extended until next month the Scottish FA have confirmed – despite the original three-week suspension raised serious fears over the future of the season and some clubs.
With increased positive cases of Covid being recorded across the country, the decision was taken to halt all football outside the top two tiers of the professional game and that has now been extended until February 14.
SPFL League One, SPFL League Two, Scottish Women’s Football Premier Leagues 1 & 2, Highland League, Lowland League, East, West & South of Scotland Leagues, Scottish Junior FA Leagues and the North Caledonian League were all shut down at the start of the month.
Scottish Cup fixtures scheduled for February 20 have also been cancelled, leaving two rounds now to be rescheduled and raising question marks over whether the competition will be completed.
The SFA insist they will work with clubs affected to develop league and division- specific plans for a return to training and playing as they look at being unable to realistically resume playing before the start of March.
Scottish FA president Rod Petrie insisted that the extension of the Scottish Government’s own restrictions necessitated the continuation of the suspension, saying:
“The conversations we have had with representatives from the clubs and leagues affected by the temporary suspension have been hugely beneficial. We have been able to further communicate the rationale behind the decision in the midst of an ongoing pandemic whilst also hearing at first hand the most important issues facing clubs and leagues at each level of the game.
“We have also been greatly encouraged by the sense of togetherness shown by the clubs and the robustness with which protocols and measures have been implemented in the interests of player and staff safety within football.
“A number of initiatives have been suggested which may help to make the eventual return to playing efficient without compromising safety.
“The decision to extend the suspension is necessary given the Scottish Government’s own extension of existing lockdown measures. Football will play its part to support the collective effort to reduce the spread of the new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
“We are grateful for the input of all groups involved in our online discussions this week and we will continue to liaise ahead of our next public update on February 10.”
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