SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster has warned that season 2020/21 could be more challenging than 2019/20, in terms of managing the ongoing public health crisis, speaking to broadcaster STV today.
As we know, drama off the pitch ended up defining the season that’s just ended, with Celtic and the rest of Scottish football unable to complete a full schedule of games.
It has been an unprecedented and worrying time across all facets of society.
Football has been no different and clubs have had to take drastic financial steps, such as wage deferrals and furloughs, to ensure they are able to weather the storm.
However, Doncaster has warned that next season could be the one thought of as the campaign of crisis in future.
As quoted by STV, the league chief said: “There is going to be huge stress in the coming season. We may all look back at season 2019/2020 as being the season of crisis, but I don’t think that will prove to be the case.
“I think we’ll be looking back and saying season 2020/2021 was where the real problems were.
“Getting the game up and running, starting the season on time, getting clubs through the season – I think that’ll be very challenging. This crisis threatens clubs from the very top through to the pyramid system.
“Never have we faced a crisis of this magnitude. This is something which is unprecedented, which really does threaten the existence of the game in this country.”
It really sounds as if the stakes are high then as the footballing authorities in Scotland prepare for another round of meetings with the Scottish Government.
If the game’s very existence is at stake then there is little margin for error when it comes to the big key decisions to come such as training start dates, new league season dates and when crowds might be allowed back through the turnstiles.
Public health is always going to come first, and rightly so, but the SPFL are clearly trying to reflect to the wider public that football is really at risk across all levels.
If we thought the drama of league-wide votes and statements in recent months was notable, it seems we’ve not experienced anything yet.