Scotland want blank club weekend before Euro play-off

But Steve Clarke’s please may fall on deaf ears

Scotland manager Steve Clarke thinks it would be 'realistic' for SPFL clubs to agree a postponement. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Scotland manager Steve Clarke thinks it would be 'realistic' for SPFL clubs to agree a postponement. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Scotland manager Steve Clarke says it is “realistic” to expect the SPFL to leave the weekend before the rearranged Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with Israel free of top-flight games.

The SFA wanted the SPFL to postpone the Sunday fixtures prior to the original date for the game in March. But that looked set to be ignored before football was suspended in mid-March.

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The game is now scheduled for Thursday 8 October and the SFA feel they are entitled to expect some assistance this time in view of the fact the SPFL are still drawing up the fixture list, with the new Premiership season set to begin on the first weekend in August.

Clarke also hopes the SPFL will leave a provisional free weekend before the play-off final on 12 November, when Scotland will face an away fixture against either Norway or Serbia, if they overcome Israel.

That would be the first of a challenging run of three away fixtures in the space of six days, with Nations League games against Slovakia and Israel scheduled for 14 and 17 November.

Clarke said: “We have already made representations to the SPFL.

“They obviously haven’t released fixtures for next season yet but we have asked them to treat us as kindly as they possibly can in the lead-up to those games.

“Realistic terms would be cancellation of the SPFL fixtures for the October game. A free weekend would give us more than half the squad free and nice and relaxed into the Israel game.

“And a provisional cancellation for the second game in November because, if we get through the first game, the second game becomes really important. That is what we would hope for.

“I understand the complexities of fixtures and scheduling and the needs of individual clubs with European games. You will have all the problems that we had leading up to the March game in October and November but, hopefully, we can find a sensible solution.”

Clarke is sanguine about the prospect of the plea falling on deaf ears as the SPFL have not proved overly helpful in the past.

The SFA have already failed in a request for Slovakia to switch the home and away Nations League ties so Scotland could at least have one fixture at home during this potential triple-header.

The SFA were originally asked by Police Scotland to ensure Scotland played away from home in November to avoid a clash with the since-postponed UN Climate Change conference which was due to be in Glasgow in the middle of that month.

Clarke added: “Ian [Maxwell, SFA chief executive] spoke to one of the other countries and asked if they would be willing to switch their fixture but they politely declined because it would have put them in the same situation that we’re in.

“It’s something we are going to have to deal with. Hopefully it is three games in six days because that will mean we have been successful and qualified for the final. If that’s what it is, we will deal with it.

“We don’t look for excuses,” Clarke added.

“We will find a way to deal with it whether it means staying away from home and going from country to country or one flight back to Scotland for an overnight here before we travel off again. It is something we’ll discuss with the larger staff and medical people and sports scientists.”


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