Steven Gerrard calls on Premiership clubs to help finance coronavirus testing for part-time teams
Lower-league sides will have to test their players for Covid-19 before facing top-flight clubs, it was confirmed on Friday.
The announcement came after concerns were raised over lower division teams taking on top-flight sides without having undergone the same twice-weekly testing protocols which have been in place for the new Premiership campaign since it began at the start of August.
The tournament is due to kick-off with the first group stage matches on 6 October but Rangers, along with fellow Europa League participants Celtic, Aberdeen and Motherwell, won’t enter the Betfred Cup until the last 16 knockout stage at the end of November.
Gerrard feels the tournament could be under threat if the funds are not provided to allow players from all competing teams to be uniformly tested.
If a club are unable or unwilling to test players, or fail to provide sufficient negative results, they will forfeit the Betfred Cup match.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of concerns around the testing,” said the Rangers manager. “I’m sure the football governing bodies and the government will be concerned if there are certain teams coming into certain bubbles who haven’t been tested.
“I also think – and I don’t think the club will thank me for this! – that the big clubs might need to show some support to the part-time teams or other teams lower down that are not in the same financial position, just so that we can continue to make sure that these competitions progress and finish.
“That’s the only way I can see things progressing the way we all want them to progress – if the top clubs or the ones who are higher up support the ones who are lower down.
“That’s just me commenting off the cuff – I’m trying to think of the best way to move things forwards and to try and help the teams lower down who aren’t in a position to pay for the testing.
“Everyone in Scottish football is doing their best to cope with and respect the Covid situation. We’ve had a couple of incidents at certain clubs but everyone in the main is trying to do everything they can to make sure that the game can continue.
“Everyone is desperate to get supporters back in the stadiums and closer to normality as quickly as we can but the priority has to be safety and players’ health.
“So part-time teams or teams in the lower leagues who are not tested, that’s something that needs to be looked into seriously because it could lead to more problems.”
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