Clubs may have to forfeit Betfred Cup tie if they can’t test players

SPFL introduces new rules
The Betfred Cup is due to begin on 6 October. Picture: Ross Parker / SNSThe Betfred Cup is due to begin on 6 October. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
The Betfred Cup is due to begin on 6 October. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Lower-league teams will have to test their players for Covid-19 before facing Premiership sides in the Betfred Cup.

The Scottish Professional Football League has introduced the stipulation following growing unease among top-flight clubs that their stringent approach to keeping players free of the coronavirus could be undermined by playing against untested opponents.

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Top-flight clubs have to carry out tests on all players in the week before a league game with the results submitted to the SPFL by noon two days before kick-off.

But eight of them had faced coming up against teams who were under no such burden when the group stages begin on 6 October. There remains no requirement for routine swab testing in relation to Championship, League 1 or League 2 matches but players who test positive before a Betfred Cup tie will be asked to self-isolate.

The move comes after League 2 side Annan recorded four positive cases this week. They take on Hamilton, who also have four players self-isolating, in the Betfred Cup.

If a club are unable or unwilling to test players, or fail to provide sufficient negative results, they will forfeit the Betfred Cup match with a 3-0 defeat.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The enormous efforts SPFL clubs are going to is a sign of the sport’s determination to do everything humanly possible to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

“The very future of many of our clubs depends on this comprehensive suite of steps to which clubs are rigorously adhering.”

Lower-league clubs will not be asked to test their players before facing Premiership colt teams in the Challenge Cup.

Top-flight clubs who do not want to risk their bubble by exposing their young players to untested opposition can either pay for their opponents to mass-test their squad, withdraw from the competition or forfeit a tie.

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Doncaster said: “The fact that Premiership clubs will pay for Covid-19 tests to be carried out by lower league opponents in the Challenge Cup is very positive.

“Everyone in our game knows we are all in this together and the fact that the game as a whole is taking a very collegiate and mature approach augurs very well for the future.”

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