Virus: Scottish clubs urged to check insurance policies

The Scottish football authorities have urged clubs to check their insurance policies in case matches need to be played behind closed doors or cancelled.

Last night’s Champions League clash between Valencia and Atalanta was played behind closed doors at the Mestalla.Picture: Uefa pool/Getty
Last night’s Champions League clash between Valencia and Atalanta was played behind closed doors at the Mestalla.Picture: Uefa pool/Getty

However, both the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League have stated they are preparing for matches as normal following advice from the UK and Scottish governments.

The latest official figure was that 23 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, all of whom have travelled or are are linked to other people who have travelled.

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In a joint statement, SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell and his league counterpart, Neil Doncaster, said: “The SPFL and Scottish FA are continuing to work together in the face of the coronavirus threat.

“The Joint Response Group, including the Scottish FA’s chief medical consultant Dr John MacLean, is meeting on a daily basis to consider briefings from the World Health Organisation and to respond to the developing situation across the UK.

“We are aware of the decisions being taken elsewhere in Europe to cancel sporting events and/or hold them behind closed doors.

“However, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced yesterday that, as things stand, there is ‘no rationale’ for closing or cancelling sporting events in Britain because of coronavirus. This has been echoed in conversations that we have had with the Scottish 

“While it is a fast-changing picture and we will continue to be guided by the most up-to-date, expert advice, we are continuing to prepare for matches to proceed as scheduled.

“Member clubs are urged to review the terms of any business interruption insurance they may hold, in the event that future matches may be cancelled or have to be held behind closed doors.”

The authorities will monitor developments across Europe. A number of Champions League and Europa League games are being played behind closed doors this week, while French domestic games are limited to crowds of under 1,000. All domestic sport in Italy, Europe’s worst-affected country, was suspended on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s clubs have been encouraged to get hygiene advice across to supporters to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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“It is vital that we all take whatever measures we can to ensure good hygiene in our premises,” the statement added. “Regular, thorough hand-washing is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of coronavirus and we are urging all clubs to use the channels available to them to push this vital message to fans, staff and players alike.

“If any member club would like advice on measures that can be taken in relation to their first-team squad, to further reduce the likelihood of players contracting the virus, they should contact Dr John MacLean, the Scottish FA’s chief medical consultant.

“We will continue to update you as the situation develops.”

The English Football League has no immediate plans to postpone any fixtures despite Nottingham Forest’s majority owner Evangelos Marinakis contracting coronavirus.

The Greek businessman – also owner of Olympiacos, who are due to play Wolves behind closed doors in the Europa League tomorrow – attended Friday night’s Sky Bet Championship match against Millwall, where he reportedly met with the 
first-team squad.

He revealed on Instagram yesterday morning that he was now following the advice of doctors regarding self-isolation.

Marinakis said: “The recent virus has ‘visited’ me and I felt obliged to let the public know.”

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A club statement said he was diagnosed after first showing symptoms on his return to Greece on Monday afternoon, adding he did not show any symptoms while he was in Nottingham last week.

As of yesterday afternoon, the Greek Super League leaders were still planning on hosting Wolves, but it is understood the Premier League club have asked Uefa to postpone the fixture.

A decision on the last-16 tie is expected in the next 24 hours, with Wolves reluctant to travel to Athens given Marinakis’ diagnosis.

The Greek government has enforced a two-week suspension of spectators attending sporting events due to the outbreak of Covid-19, with the game due to be played behind closed doors.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said: “I don’t agree with playing football behind closed doors. If we have to go there, we will go, but we don’t agree.”

The match is one of a host of Europa and Champions League ties due to take place without spectators.

Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 first leg at Austrian side LASK tomorrow and the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 clash away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, 18 March will both be played behind closed doors as will the second leg of Rangers’ Europa League tie at Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, 19 March.



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