LOWER LEAGUE CLUBS WONT SURVIVE GAMES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Giuseppe Taouss

It has been three months since the last time a ball was kicked in Scottish football. 

However, over the past 4 weeks, football fans have been able to watch the Bundesliga return to action behind closed doors, which made it the first European league to restart following the coronavirus shutdown. 

To describe it in one word-disappointing. Football is the most popular sport in the world and that is because of the sound and energy that fans create at the game. The only sound coming from Borussia Dortmund’s 81,000 seat arena was from the players. A completely different spectacle compared to what you’re used to watching every Saturday. 

Due to the coronavirus, the Scottish premiership will restart initially behind closed doors, meaning that football won’t have any fans attending the games until next year.  

Scottish football is facing an uncertain future. It’s all well and good staging the Premiership behind closed doors, but it is not as simple as that for the lower league teams. Clubs in league 1 and league 2 will struggle to survive as matchday revenue is king and teams in the lower divisions survive off ticket sales and filling hospitality lounges. 

However, there is hope fans will pay to watch a live stream of their team’s home games, which would generate some revenue for clubs, but only for some. It’s doubtful that part-time teams like Alloa, Peterhead etc will be able to get their fans to pay to watch their home games on the TV. Some clubs won’t survive the back of this virus.

At the moment, clubs are investigating how and when the season can resume, even behind closed doors. There is an acceptance that for some clubs, it will be impossible to stage games behind closed doors and if that is the case, these clubs will be mothballed and won’t take part in the next season. 

Peterhead boss, Jim McInally has stated that the prospect of football without fans is “senseless” and reckons Leagues One and Two should miss out next season entirely if fans aren’t allowed back into the stadium. 

“I think we need to have some sort of plan for when we can play again.

“The general consensus is that League One and League Two won’t be able to start with closed-door games.

“The grey area is the Championship, but for a number of their clubs it might be an issue as well.

“Reading between the lines it seems pretty clear that Ann Budge’s proposal will fall on its face.

“What I did take from her proposal was that us in League One and Two need to look after ourselves.

“So I think our chairmen need to get together and get a plan in place to give to the SPFL that they could then give to the Scottish Government for approval that we start in October.”

After Anne Budge’s proposal was rejected this week, this means that under SPFL rules the Championship, League One and League Two would need to complete a 36-game campaign next term. With it looking like the games will need to be played behind closed doors until the new year at least.

But McInally added: “What about the season we’ve just finished? It wasn’t 36 games.

“So that surely kills any argument about 36 games having to be played next season.

“We don’t need any more obstacles. There are enough obstacles already, but we need a way ahead and playing from October could be that way.”

Majority of lower league teams will be forced to commit financial suicide. But, it’s not only the clubs that will suffer. 

In Scotland, football means more to fans than just going to watch for 90 minutes at the weekend. It’s a way of life, it’s a life line, for some people it’s the only time of the week they can spend quality time with friends and family. It’s a rush like no other. My father fell in love with his team because he felt part of something when he moved over as an immigrant. He made friends and had somewhere to go where he felt belonged and was a part of something. Football is a huge part of this country and if it’s taken away from people, they won’t have much left. 

 

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