SPFL chief Neil Doncaster issues 'no room' warning to Premiership clubs over fixture calendar

Neil Doncaster has warned Scottish Premiership clubs that there is no scope to make further changes to the fixture calendar following the decision to bring forward the winter shutdown.

SPFL chief exec Neil Doncaster has warned there is no room to make further changes to the Premiership fixture calender. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
SPFL chief exec Neil Doncaster has warned there is no room to make further changes to the Premiership fixture calender. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Ten of the 12 top flights sides voted to start the break early in light of the incoming restrictions on crowds after the Scottish Government imposed a limit of 500 spectators for up to three weeks from December 26 onwards.

Clubs will play their Boxing Day fixtures as planned but the following two rounds of matches due to be played on December 29 and January 2-3 have been put back to January 17-18 and February 1-2 respectively.

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While pleased a consensus was reached, SPFL chief executive Doncaster admitted that clubs may have to accept playing in front of limited crowds if the restrictions are not lifted by the time the action resumes.

"It's been a bad week for Scottish football in terms of the restrictions but a good week in terms of the democratic process and the league being able to respond to clubs' requests," Doncaster said.

"There was an overwhelming view there should be postponements with the majority of clubs wanting to postpone all three festive fixtures.

"But we only have two available slots prior to the league split so the compromise of playing on Boxing Day but postponing the December 29 and New Year's games was the right approach to take.

"We know it causes difficulties with congestion but the responsible thing from the Board was to listen to the majority and respond.

"I'm pleased with the compromise put forward, but it now means there's no further room to delay games - we've used the two available slots that exist and there simply isn't any more space."

With the crowd limits set to hit club finances, Doncaster confirmed that the Scottish government has pledged financial support to those affected.

"The situation has been and continues to be crippling for SPFL clubs so it's vitally important we get as much financial support as possible from the Scottish Government in the light of these restrictions," Doncaster told Sky Sports News.

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"We've been told very clearly there will be support and I think the Scottish government do understand how critical finances are within Scottish football and how important it is to get as much funding as possible, as quickly as possible.

"In the meantime, we have to make the best of the situation and continue to liaise with the Scottish government to hopefully get back to full crowds as soon as possible."

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