The Scottish Premiership has been thrown into chaos following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that capacities for outdoor events will be capped at 500 – leading to talks with the SPFL over bringing the winter break forward and starting it immediately.
A decision is expected later today as crisis talks take place between the clubs and the SPFL over the next steps with Premiership and Championship sides understood to be meeting league chiefs at 3pm today.
Clubs are being asked to vote on one of three options; continuing as planned, starting the break immediately or waiting until after the Boxing Day games before starting the break early.
The SPFL have said little so far with Neil Doncaster saying the news of capacity cap of 500 would be a “hammer blow” but avoiding the subject of postponing games.
“Today’s news will be a hammer blow to clubs and fans across the country, who simply could not have done more to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic,” Doncaster said on Tuesday.
“Our clubs have adapted quickly and effectively to previous restrictions, and we will work with them in implementing the guidance from today’s announcement in the coming days.”
Ahead of this afternoon’s meetings and a decision coming tonight, here’s what clubs have had to say over the last 24 hours.
Matches at Pittodrie over the festive period are traditionally very well attended and are a vital source of revenue for the Club, particularly given the challenges it has already faced in the previous two years. These latest restrictions are likely to cost the Club up to half a million pounds.
Whilst the safety of our supporters — and those in our wider community — are of uppermost importance, the news this afternoon is a huge blow to all at Aberdeen FC and clubs across Scotland.
We are working hard behind the scenes with other clubs and the SPFL to navigate these new restrictions and will provide further clarity to supporters and corporate clients as soon as practically possible.
Following the Scottish Government’s announcement yesterday, Dundee FC have been in constant dialogue regarding the best course of action moving forward.
We understand the difficulties and pressures surrounding the decisions currently being made but we have made our view clear that every possible effort must be made to have supporters inside stadiums for these fixtures.
As such, we are supporting the proposal to bring forward the winter break and allow these matches to be rescheduled.
This is not an easy task and one that will require assistance from many parties.
However, having played through a season behind closed doors and seeing the impact the return of fans has had this season we feel we must try any avoid going back to empty stands where possible.
Football is not the same without supporters.
We have been looking forward to big crowds and great atmospheres over the festive period, culminating in a sell-out Dundee derby in just over a week. To play these matches with no supporters is not something that anyone within the club wants.
Discussions took place last night between the clubs and the SPFL and we expect further talks today.
We will update our supporters when we have more information regarding the coming weeks.
Following last night’s emergency meeting called by the Joint Response Group and SPFL, Dundee United FC would like to confirm that we submitted a request to the SPFL to bring forward the winter break and rescheduled any fixtures affected by the most recent regulations announced by the First Minister recently.
We believe doing so would allow more time to ensure the Government’s vaccination booster programme to take greater effect and assist the whole country in winning the battle with the ongoing pandemic.
Further to this, it is a fundamental to football that fans be allowed to attend matches and support the game and bringing forward the winter break would mean fans will not miss out on attending fixtures over the next ten days.
The club would like to provide a further update to supporters following yesterday’s announcement from the First Minister regarding reduced capacities at football stadiums.
Since that announcement, it has been well documented that discussions have taken place between SPFL clubs with the aim of exploring all options with regard to upcoming cinch Premiership fixtures.
This is not a straightforward process with some difficult decisions for the SPFL to make and no easy solutions, as bringing the break forward may simply delay bigger issues both in relation to Covid and potential fixture congestion.
However, on balance, we are in favour of bringing the winter break forward to give us all time to evaluate and alleviate any potential issues relating to playing once again in front of supporters.
Again, the club would like to thank our magnificent supporters for their continued backing and patience, and we will update you further as soon as we can.
Following the Scottish Government’s announcement earlier today, Hibernian FC has requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the affected fixtures.
The announcement stated football will be played behind-closed-doors for an initial period of up to three weeks, starting on December 26.
That means our games against Dundee United, Celtic, and Hearts would all be affected.
Hibernian FC completely understands that this is an incredibly difficult situation due to on-going pandemic, and with that in mind health and safety should be at the forefront of every decision, which is why the Club has made this proposal to the SPFL.
Alongside this, every effort should be made to allow supporters to watch their team and the game they love. The Club also believes that this will protect the integrity of the competition and would save clubs from the potential loss of substantial revenue.
The Club is now waiting for guidance from the SPFL and will update supporters in due course.
Livingston Football Club are in favour of bringing the scheduled winter break forward given the current situation with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which will come as no surprise given our manager stated this publicly last week at a scheduled press conference.
We believe that this would give us a necessary time to assess and evaluate the changing situation to make better informed decisions across the board.
While we understand the risk associated with this to the fixture calendar, we believe that we need to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to play these games Infront of our supporters. Football Supporters up and down the country have been asked to give up so much since the pandemic started and we believe that taking this decision to give ourselves the chance for our supporters to attend these matches is the least that can be done by clubs.
However, there is a bigger picture here which football clubs are aware of. Scottish Football wants to take its responsibilities seriously in helping to curb the transmission of the Omicron variant. We believe that by bringing the scheduled winter break forward, we can help in slowing down transmission rates due to no supporters attending stadia but also with a reduction in the likelihood of supporters gathering in public places, pubs, restaurants, and households. Furthermore, it takes a lot of pressure away from the players who are extremely concerned that they will be the vehicle for the virus into the football club. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the amount pf pressure placed upon the players in this ever-changing environment who have lives away from football. This also allows players, staff, and fans a window of opportunity to receive their booster jags only helps alleviate the current situation with Omicron.
After all, we want to protect our NHS, protect the wellbeing of our players, staff and supporters and ensure that we come through this wave of Omicron as best as we can.
There is no ideal scenario as we have found out on numerous occasions throughout the pandemic however, we have to be realistic and do everything we can to stop the transmission of this unforgiving virus.
Covid-19 is not going away and we must find ways to slow the spread. But today’s announcement and the restriction to just 500 is incredibly frustrating.
Most pertinently, it is a serious blow for fans who have been through so much and rely on football as a method of supporting themselves mentally with some normality and release. It is also a difficult situation for the clubs themselves who have had such a torrid time trying to keep their head above the water.
Restrictions to this level are, ironically, worse than a full lock out as you retain a significant element of your cost base and have virtually no means to commercialise the event.
You also have the huge issue of trying to select 500 fans from a highly engaged pool of people who are all desperate to attend. Fan versus fan, how do you make that fair? We should start the winter break now, and rearrange these matches when all fans have a chance to attend at a later date when hopefully restrictions are eased.
That way we increase the likelihood (from zero, currently) that fans can watch the gives live, all matches are played under the same parameters and clubs can commercialise the fixtures in line with current budgets. During that time, we put our facilities and platform at the disposal of the local health authorities to ensure as many booster vaccinations can be administered as possible.
St Johnstone has requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the affected fixtures. Due to the government announcement yesterday, we believe this is the best solution for our football club and our supporters
St Mirren Football Club can confirm that it has requested postponements of our upcoming cinch Premiership matches against Celtic and Rangers following further positive covid tests.
We have tried our utmost to fulfil the fixture, however, following further positive covid cases this morning we are unable to field a team for either match with a significant number of first-team players and staff unavailable.
The health and wellbeing of our players and staff remains our utmost priority and we will continue to take every precaution necessary.
We are in continued discussions with the SPFL and we will keep supporters updated as we look for a resolution to this matter.
The Staggies have yet to comment.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.