Doncaster: There’s no room in the calendar for more postponements

The SPFL chief executive says more disruption causes danger of 'potential curtailment'.

Doncaster: There’s no room in the calendar for more postponements SNS Group

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has said clubs made the right move in bringing forward the winter break, but warns there’s no room for further postponements.

The league announced on Wednesday that the Premiership shutdown planned for early January would instead start after Boxing Day’s fixtures, a move designed to lessen the impact of the government decision to limit attendances to just 500 supporters.

A revised fixture list has been issued, with rearranged games taking place in midweeks in January and early February, as the league try to fit games around existing commitments.

Doncaster said that solution leaves no wriggle room if there are further postponements, saying teams “simply have to get games played” or risk serious consequences.

“We had two slots that we could use pre-split and we’ve used those already by postponing the December 29 and New Year games,” the chief executive told STV.

“There’s absolutely no more leeway in the calendar and whatever the situation in the New Year, we simply have to get these games played.

“If we can’t then we are in real danger of being in the same situation that we were two years ago with potential curtailment.”

Midweek Premiership games did go ahead, with some fans taking the opportunity to vent their frustration with the government’s decision to impose the limit on numbers as part of measures to curb the spread of the new variant.

Doncaster had sympathy for their position, highlighting the fact that games are played outdoors where risk is lesser than many other places where people gather in large numbers.

“I can understand it,” he said. “All the signs so far are that Omicron is a less serious variant of the illness than the previous variants. I equally understand that the Scottish Government has a responsibility to do what it feels it needs to do.

“I think part of the frustration is that we are seeing full stadia south of the border and people in shops and bars and restaurants.

“We’re certainly keen to have fans back in open air stadia, which are clearly going to be safer than indoor environments. That’s very much the hope.”

One of Wednesday’s games was St Mirren’s match against Celtic, which the Paisley side asked to have postponed because of a Covid outbreak in the squad, only to be told that they could put together a team and so would have to play.

Doncaster said he understood the difficulties teams faced, but was adamant that games have to go ahead even with makeshift teams.

“The board has set a policy at the start of the season that if you have a relatively small number of players then the game goes ahead,” he said. “Clearly we’ve got huge sympathy for clubs who find themselves in the situation where they’ve got Covid in the camp and reduced numbers, having to bring in players who potentially haven’t played in the first team before.

“They simply have to get the game on if they have sufficient numbers.

“We have sympathy but we have a responsibility equally to all 42 clubs to get these games played where they possibly can.”

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