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Coronavirus: SFA and SPFL to complete season but issue warning

Neil Doncaster says infection at one club could affect the SPFL season.

Scottish football’s governing bodies have said that there is no current risk of the coronavirus outbreak affecting fixtures – but warn that infection at just one club could jeopardise the league season.

The Scottish FA and SPFL set up a Joint Response Group this week to react to the threat of the virus, with their first act being to suspend handshakes between players at matches.

Now, the group have outlined the risk that the spread of the virus poses to football, warning of a potential threat to the league season and to club finances if the situation gets significantly worse.

After discussions with the Scottish Government, the group has concluded that there is currently “no rationale” to postpone fixtures and say that their view is “that the SPFL and Scottish FA should endeavour to complete the season and fulfil their obligations under their broadcasting agreements.”

However, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster outlined the potential impact of widespread infection.

He said: “We are taking a pragmatic approach to the current situation and have alerted our members to the fact that, if the outbreak affects the first team of even one SPFL club, it could make completing the SPFL season very difficult, so first team players and staff should be extremely vigilant.

“Whilst the current, clear advice is that matches should proceed as scheduled, we will obviously prepare for contingencies where matches might have to be played behind closed doors, or even be cancelled, as we have already seen with other major sporting events.

“With that in mind, we have alerted the Scottish Government to the dire financial consequences facing clubs if the current situation changes and clubs are unable to generate revenue from ticket sales.”

Scottish FA chief executive revealed that clubs have been contacted to remind them of the importance of good hygiene and to communicate the message to staff and fans.

“Together with our colleagues at the SPFL, we have written to our members to underline that we will do everything possible to complete fixtures, whilst taking fully on board the Government’s expert advice and the guidance of our Medical Consultant, Dr John MacLean,” he said.

“We have also advised our clubs of the absolute necessity of following hygiene best practice at stadiums, training grounds and other premises, as well as providing information to staff, fans, contractors, broadcasters and other media entering club premises.”