Coronavirus: Scottish lower leagues, women’s divisions and cup games all cancelled

The escalating Covid-19 situation in Scotland has forced the Scottish FA to cancel all football below the SPFL Championship for three weeks.
League One sides East Fife and Falkirk have had their league campaigns postponed. But Raith Rovers can continue theirs. Pic by Michael Gillen.League One sides East Fife and Falkirk have had their league campaigns postponed. But Raith Rovers can continue theirs. Pic by Michael Gillen.
League One sides East Fife and Falkirk have had their league campaigns postponed. But Raith Rovers can continue theirs. Pic by Michael Gillen.

The move will see League One clubs such as East Fife and Falkirk put into cold storage until January 31 when a review of the position at that time will be taken.

Motherwell in the Premiership can continue as can Raith Rovers in the Championship.

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As part of the new measures, the Scottish Cup ties will also be postponed temporarily with the domestic competition included in the list of cancelled competitions.

The Scottish FA board met on Sunday night to discuss the situation and say it gave “extensive consideration” to making decisions in the interests of public health, taking into account the government’s wish to reduce travel and contact with others whilst safeguarding commercial broadcasting contracts which sustain the professional game.

Following a meeting between the Scottish FA and the Minister for Public Health Sport and Wellbeing, both parties have agreed to impose a temporary suspension of all football beneath the Scottish Professional Football League Championship, encompassing all predominantly part-time tiers of the Scottish professional pyramid, from midnight tonight (Monday).

The impacted leagues are: SPFL League One, SPFL League Two, Scottish Women’s Football Premier Leagues 1 and 2, Highland League, Lowland League, East, West & South of Scotland Leagues, Scottish Junior FA Leagues and the North Caledonian League.

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Based on the imperatives of acting in the best interests of public health and participant safety, whilst ensuring professional clubs’ survival, the SPFL Premiership will be exempt from the suspension, provided it continues to adhere to the stringent testing protocols.

The SPFL Championship will also be able to continue provided it commences weekly PCR testing.

Scottish Cup matches scheduled to be played prior to the February 1 will be rescheduled in due course.

Rod Petrie, Scottish FA President: “The Scottish FA is well aware of the efforts all clubs take to comply with the exacting protocols that were conditional on elite football being given an exemption to continue amid the pandemic.

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“None the less the continuation of football at all levels has weighed increasingly heavy on me as president, my colleagues on the board and the Joint Response Group as we have watched the new strain of the virus spread rapidly.

“While the national sport has been afforded the privilege of elite sporting exemption, the risk of mass transportation of untested, largely part-time players is something that cannot be sustained as the cases continue to rise and available hospital beds become increasingly scarce.

“After discussions with the SPFL, the Premiership and Championship will continue on the proviso that both adhere to the existing testing regime. The vast majority of teams in those divisions are full-time professional clubs and so the risk of transmission remains manageably low. The cost implications to lower-division clubs was one factor but so too the realisation that many – with some notable exceptions – consist of part-time players who are either prevented from working due to the virus or have to work.

“In either case, the risk is currently too great amid the developing nationwide spread of the virus.

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“Much has been said of football’s relationship with the Scottish Government during the pandemic. As president of the Scottish FA and Chair of the Joint Response Group, I am grateful for the clinical expertise provided by government specifically to football and for the timely award of £30m in grant and loan funding for the game.

“We reiterate our commitment to playing our part in the collective effort to eradicate the virus.”