Coronavirus outbreak at just one SPFL club 'could threaten entire season'

Matches are so far expected to go ahead as plannedMatches are so far expected to go ahead as planned
Matches are so far expected to go ahead as planned
SPFL/SFA group updates members on latest government advice

SPFL Chief Neil Doncaster has warned that an outbreak of coronavirus at just one Scottish football club could put the entire league season in jeopardy.

Scottish football’s Joint Response Group has updated all member clubs on the latest government-issued advice for the sports sector, and while there is currently “no rationale to close or cancel sporting events”, Doncaster added: “First team players and staff should be extremely vigilant – 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.

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“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.”

‘We will do everything possible to complete fixtures’

A statement from the group read: “Following discussions with the Scottish Government, which is liaising with the UK Government, the Group has underlined that the most up-to-date advice for sports organisations – issued by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - is there is presently no rationale to close or cancel sporting events.

“With this in mind, and considering the limitations of the fixture calendar, the view of the Joint Response Group is that the SPFL and Scottish FA should endeavour to complete the season and fulfil their obligations under their broadcasting agreements. “

SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell added: “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.

“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.”

Sporting events ‘not considered a major contributory factor in virus spread’

According to the Scottish Government’s sports-specific guidance, the evidence so far has pinpointed “the home, schools and the workdplace” as the main locations where transmission [of the virus] is most likely.

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Open air sports events [are] less likely to be a problem than shopping centres, pubs and restaurants, the guidance adds.

However, supporters travelling to and from matches, congregating in pubs, and using over-crowded public transport pose “potentially significant risks" and control measures could yet be introduced in a bid to limit the impact of sporting events on the efforts to manage the outbreak.



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