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SPFL board will decide on moving Premiership winter break

Moving fixtures ahead of the 500-fan limit would not require a vote from clubs.

SPFL board will decide on moving Premiership winter break SNS Group

The decision on whether to move forward the Premiership winter break will be taken by the SPFL’s board and not through a formal vote from member clubs, STV has learned.

The league body and top flight clubs have been in crisis talks since the Scottish Government announced that a maximum of 500 fans would be allowed to attend sporting events from Boxing Day as a measure to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

Premiership sides are in one of the busiest spells of the season, with games on December 26 and 29 before a round of fixtures that include the Old Firm match and Edinburgh and Dundee derbies early in January. The top flight would then go into a two-week winter shutdown.

The majority of Premiership sides have called for the break to be moved and start ahead of this weekend’s games, allowing clubs to potentially avoid the worst of the impact from the crowd limits. Games could be rescheduled for January when the break was meant to take place.

It’s understood there are three options on the table for the top flight: To stop games after Wednesday night’s three games and begin the winter break immediately, to wait until after Boxing Day and shut down the league from that point, or to continue playing the festive fixtures and break as scheduled after January 3.

Talks between the SPFL and representatives from all Premiership sides took place on Tuesday night but a final decision will not require a vote from clubs.

While an ordinary resolution to make major changes to the competition would require nine of the 12 Premiership sides to be in favour, as well as 75% of Championship sides and 75% of League 1 and 2 combined, STV understands that moving fixtures does not require that endorsement. Instead, the board can make the decision without the need for calling a general meeting and vote.

The current board is comprised of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, chairman Murdoch MacLennan and independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey along with club representatives.

From the Premiership, Hibernian’s Ron Gordon, Ross County’s James McDonald and Rangers general manager Stewart Robertson all sit on the board. Hamilton’s Les Gray and Dunfermline’s Ross McArthur are the Championship representatives, with Forfar’s Alastair Donald the League 1 and 2 body on the board.

The league executive is canvassing the opinion of clubs from across all four divisions and could make a decision on Wednesday.

The league’s contract with Sky to show games live is not understood to be a major issue in the decision making, with the broadcaster still maintaining its agreed number of fixtures for television.