Britton: Plenty of clubs will look at ‘extraordinary measures’

Partick Thistle's chief executive hopes every club comes out of the coronavirus in as good a position as they can.

Britton: Plenty of clubs will look at ‘extraordinary measures’ SNS

Partick Thistle chief executive Gerry Britton believes clubs will be forced to take extraordinary measures to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The football shutdown means clubs are left without matchday income and will struggle the longer they are unable to go about their normal business.

Hearts have already asked players and staff to cut wages by 50% to stave off financial difficulties down the line and Britton says others will face difficult decisions.

He told STV: “I think that’s going to be a realistic proposition for  a lot of our clubs because if we come out of this situation whenever it is many months down the line, still with the same number of football teams in the country and still with the set up as we know it.  

“We’re in extraordinary times. It’s really uncertain. We don’t really know what’s going to happen next week, never mind next month.

“We have no certainty in terms of when we’re going to be back on the pitch. I think we’re all agreed it’s not going to be any time soon. I think a lot of clubs will look at extraordinary measures to make sure we come out the other side.”

Thistle have been boosted by supporters launching their own fundraising schemes to help and the club has rebranded as Partick Thistle Family Club to emphasise their links with fans and community during the crisis.

Britton said that the club was in a relatively fortunate position financially before the shutdown but thinks that every club will feel the impact.

“It permeates everywhere in football /non football and operations but what I’ve got to say, us as a club the size of our club we’re in a better position than many out there so we’ve got to be grateful for that,” he said. “We’re currently debt- free, we’re working towards a break even budget this season,  we were going to achieve it bar this unprecedented situation.

“To go into a situation like this we are in a better starting point than many clubs but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier for us.

“Any income that you can get at this stage is a welcome boost. The advancement of the licence fees from the SFA is a great help, but still for a lot of clubs like ourselves there will be a lot more difficult decisions to make.”

While health and well-being, and financial health, are priorities, Thistle are also keen to hear plans for how to resolve the fixture crisis. The team is currently at the bottom of the Championship but has hopes of being able to play their way clear of relegation.

Britton said that when decisions are made, he wants the “greater good” to be foremost in people’s minds.

“I think the discussions that are ongoing seems to be that there are a lot of external factors that are going to come into play,” he said. “By that I mean, the Scottish and UK government and UEFA.

“We would love to see a definitive decision made over the next few days, whether that happens remains to be seen. It’s unprecedented and there a lot of other organisations involved.

“From a self interested point of view,  of course nobody  wants to see their club relegated, especially in situations like this, where our points haul we’re still in with a realistic opportunity of getting off the bottom of the league.

“The ideal scenario for everybody for the integrity of the game is that any competition that’s started, finishes. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances here that might prevent that.

“All I would hope would be that the collective decision would be for the greater good of the game and I think that, given the negative experiences that all our clubs will be going through is that nobody is left in a worse off state that they currently will be.”

After a video conference call between clubs and the SPFL, the Thistle chief executive said that league reconstruction had not been discussed but that he favoured a different format.

He said: “I’ve always been an advocate of an enlarged higher division, for developmental purposes, for our players, and for our teams, for our coaches. I think it’s a more attractive proposition for our spectators. But it’s only one of a number of scenarios that the SFA and SPFL will be given to chew over in the weeks ahead.”

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