SPFL clubs fired crowd warning: 'I don't believe fans will be back in three weeks time'

Ross County manager Malky Mackay fears it will be a long time before big crowds are back in Scottish football grounds.

Malky MacKay celebrates Ross County's midweek win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Malky MacKay celebrates Ross County's midweek win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

County and Rangers were the only two cinch Premiership clubs who wanted to play the festive fixtures as scheduled in the wake of new Scottish Government restrictions which limit crowds at outdoor events to a maximum of 500.

In the end, the Scottish Professional Football League board found a compromise that will see Boxing Day games go ahead in near-empty stadiums while the other two rounds have been put back several weeks until after the winter break.

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However, Mackay fears the three-week restrictions will be extended as the Scottish Government bids to keep the latest wave of the pandemic to manageable proportions.

Mackay, whose team beat St Johnstone 2-1 on Wednesday night, said: "I think the SPFL board have advised well because had Boxing Day gone, there's not another spot left to actually play that game. So fixtures wouldn't be finished. Whereas there's two spaces for the other two games.

"Overall, I genuinely think, and it's my own opinion, that it might be a while before we see big crowds in stadia again.

"I don't see governments changing that for a while. So we are going to having to be doing this anyway.

"I get why the break was brought forward but I also don't believe, in three weeks' time, everybody is going to be back in stadia again."

County had 151 supporters at McDiarmid Park as 2,249 fans defied government calls to consider whether to go to games ahead of the restrictions coming into force on Boxing Day.

Mackay, whose team face Hearts at Tynecastle on Boxing Day, said: "We love playing with fans in stadiums. Last Wednesday night when Celtic came up with 3,000, the stadium was rocking.

"It was great that our fans went to Perth on Wednesday night, I was absolutely buzzing. It was fantastic that three days before Christmas that amount of our fans decided to come down. There is a real young group who are starting to follow us with real excitement.

"But overall it's tough times for everyone and we have all just got to make the best of it.

"The 12 chairmen came to an amicable decision with the SPFL and there was a compromise for everyone to play Boxing Day.

"And then I think we will be going back into fairly empty stadiums after that, unfortunately."

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