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Sport Scottish football faces 'catastrophic' collapse in WEEKS as fan KO leaves panicked clubs praying for Holyrood bailout

02:35  23 september  2020
02:35  23 september  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Scottish football could be weeks away from a “catastrophic” collapse after Boris Johnson revealed fans could be locked out of the game for the next six months.

The grave warning came from one senior top-flight figure as part of a special Record Sport probe into the potentially ruinous ramifications of Tuesday’s raft of new coronavirus restrictions rubber-stamped simultaneously in both Westminster and Holyrood.

And we can reveal panic-stricken clubs from all over the country – and across all four divisions – now fear they could be forced to the wall unless they receive an emergency cash bailout from the Scottish government.

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After announcing in the House of Commons the return of supporters could be put on hold until April 2021 the Prime Minister revealed talks over a crisis funding package will take place between England’s major sporting bodies and the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

But while England’s mega-rich Premier League chiefs are expected to be involved in the discussions, there are currently no such plans for Scotland’s clubs to be given similar assistance from the government in Edinburgh.

Attendance at Scottish football is a devolved matter so the final decision rests with Holrood but clubs believe First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is extremely unlikely to let fans back in before Westminster does.

And one Premiership chief executive told us: “This has been a very bleak day for the professional game in this country and the consequences will be catastrophic unless there is urgent government intervention.

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

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

“Then, after all of those cuts have been made, clubs will take it in turns to go to the wall.

“That’s the scenario our game is now facing. If there are no fans then there will need to be a government subsidy of some sort to replace lost revenues. If not then Scottish football as we know it will simply not survive.”

Another prominent CEO added: “If we receive money from government then the games can go on and clubs will survive. If there is no money and no games then the club’s can’t survive.

“Scottish football cannot be expected to exist on thin air so urgent assistance will be required. It’s become increasingly clear to everyone in the game now supporters will not be back inside our grounds any time soon.”

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Record Sport this week revealed concerns were already growing over the ability of the three lower leagues to kick off their campaigns on schedule on October 6 – with particular fears for the sustainability of clubs from League One and League Two.

But one Championship club told us: “The numbers are simply not going to stack up at this level either.

“We’ve already been warned that we might be ordered to pay for Covid-19 testing before we get government approval to play matches. And now we could be looking at six months without any gate receipts. How can we be expected to pay player wages while covering the cost of that added testing when we have no match-day revenue?

“The Championship might start as planned next month but there’s no chance all 10 clubs will still be standing by the end of the season without additional funding of some kind.

“This could effectively kill the lower levels of the Scottish game and if that happens I don’t know if there will be any way back.”

  Scottish football faces 'catastrophic' collapse in WEEKS as fan KO leaves panicked clubs praying for Holyrood bailout © SNS Group

Record Sport understands there was an emergency meeting of the Joint Response Group late Tuesday afternoon to discuss developments both sides of the border as fears grow the Scottish game could be left behind.

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One leading top-flight manager has spoken of his financial fears over Scottish football fans being locked out long-term.

Stephen Robinson is targeting a Euro run to offset the hardship that would follow should supporters remain on the outside.

And the Motherwell boss revealed the Lanarkshire club would already be toiling without Europa League

qualification and the combined £4.5million sales of Steelmen starlets James Scott and David Turnbull.

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

Clubs bank a minimum £2.5m for reaching the lucrative group stage of Europe’s second tier competition and Robinson would love to land a windfall like that.

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

a person standing on top of a grass covered field © Tony Nicoletti/Daily Record

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

“The longer we can stay in the competition the more beneficial it is to the club. No fans would be a bitter blow. Like every other football club, financially it’s going to be massive to us.

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

“If you add that to the third-place finish and the European run, that’s what’s probably keeping the club going. We need fans back as soon as possible as does 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 First Minister and whatever decisions she makes.”

Robinson led Motherwell to two cup finals two years ago and, after coming through against Northern Irish sides Glentoran and Coleraine in the first two rounds, admitted the Be’er Sheva test will rank alongside them.

He said: “This will be up there with the two cup finals but the one thing missing is fans and without that the European occasions don’t seem quite the same. This one is a little different as we’re travelling further afield to a stadium you’re not used to so it has a different feel to it and it’s a pity fans aren’t there to enjoy it.

“Our motivation has to be to try to stay in the competition as long as possible to try to get people back in to enjoy them.”


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SPORTS AGENDA: Premier League clubs need wage cuts to afford bailout .
SPORTS AGENDA - MIKE KEEGAN: There is a growing annoyance among executives at Premier League clubs over pressure to provide a bailout for those in the EFL. Many privately believe that funds should not be handed over until top-flight players agree to take pay cuts.One source explained: 'Lots of money goes into the Premier League, which is well reported, but lots of money goes out of it — most of it to players. It's not like clubs have vast reserves of cash sitting around. Nobody at the clubs is making a killing outside of the football staff.

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